Mac OS X: Unexplained Hard Disk Activity Produced By "find" Process

You may notice brief periods of intense, unexplained hard disk activity as a result of normal operating system maintenance.

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  • You hear a brief period of intense hard disk activity, lasting up to about a minute. There is no alert message to explain the activity. This may occur when no other applications are open or when all other applications are idle.
  • If you look in Process Viewer or use the top command, you see that the process "find" is using significant CPU time during this activity.
  • Users familiar with Sherlock scheduled indexing may confuse this activity with that feature.


The disk activity generated by find is a normal part of file system maintenance, used for tasks such as removing invisible temporary files that are used by the system. It is scheduled to occur early in the morning at 03:15 everyday, 04:30 on Saturdays, and 05:30 on the first day of each month.

For information on how to manually run these jobs at a time of your choice, see technical document 107388, "Mac OS X: How to Force Background Maintenance Tasks (Logs and Temporary Items)".

These scheduled tasks should not be confused with the Sherlock scheduled indexing feature. For more information, see technical document 106190, "Mac OS X 10.0: Performance Slower When Sherlock Updates or Creates an Index".

Note: Mac OS X 10.2 replaces the Sherlock indexing feature with a find by content option in the Find dialog of the Finder.

Published Date: Oct 10, 2016