iCal events launched from Spotlight search results do not open in iCal

A bug in iCal® Version 2.0, distributed with the initial release of Mac® OS X 10.4 Tiger®, could cause iCal to not display events that are launched from Spotlight™ search results.

This FAQ provides a fix and a detailed explanation of the cause of the problem.


  1. You search for an event using Spotlight.
  2. You double-click the event in the Spotlight search results.
  3. Focus switches to iCal but the event is not shown: the iCal window does not change.


A bug in how iCal 2.0 created individual, event-specific files for subsequent indexing and retrieval by Spotlight. Specifically, some event-specific files did not include data indicating the iCal calendar to which the event belongs.


If you are using Mac OS X 10.4.1 or later, which includes iCal 2.0.1, you can fix the problem as follows:

  1. Quit iCal if it is open.
  2. Open your Home > Library > Caches > Metadata folder.
  3. Trash the iCal folder therein.
  4. Empty the Trash.
  5. Launch iCal.


iCal saves all events for a given calendar in a calendar-specific database. These databases can be found within folders in your Home > Library > Application Support > iCal > Sources folder. However, Spotlight can neither index nor search these databases.

So that Spotlight can index and search for iCal events, iCal 2.0 creates a separate collection of files, each containing a single iCal event, for every event in every calendar you have defined. This collection is saved in calendar-specific folders in your Home > Library > Caches > Metadata folder. This process occurred the first time you launched iCal after installing Tiger.

Apparently, the process of creating these single-event files under iCal 2.0 sometimes omitted key information from the event-specific file: the calendar to which the event belongs. When such an event-specific file is launched from Spotlight search results, iCal is unable to determine the calendar for the event. Accordingly, iCal does not display the event.

It seems this bug was fixed, but unannounced, in iCal Version 2.0.1, which was distributed with the Mac OS X 10.4.1 Update. The solution detailed above causes iCal to recreate the event-specific files containing all of the information required for iCal to display an event launched from Spotlight search results.

Did you find this FAQ helpful? You will find a wealth of additional advice for preventing or resolving Mac OS X problems in Dr. Smoke's book, Troubleshooting Mac® OS X.
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