After upgrading to the Mac OS X Leopard (10.5.8), I’ve noticed the Spotlight icon has gone missing from my menu bar (see attached picture). After poking around the system, I found that some directories are with invalid permissions. I have no idea as how this happened, maybe it occurred during the upgrade process?
Anyway, I run the Disk Utility ( Applications -> Utilities ), select the startup disk (the disk where you have OS X installed) and then click on Repair Disk Permissions. It found quite a few errors and then fixed them accordingly. After the repairing process and reboot the OS X – guess what, the Spotlight icon appeared once again on the menu bar and functioning correctly. It seems that those incorrect permissions somehow prevent Spotlight to appear and function properly. I guess it’s always a good idea to run a Repair Disk Permissions whenever you upgrade the system anyway.