Spotlight Search is basically a “Google” for your iPhone. When you type in a search, Spotlight Search will scour your entire phone for whatever it is that you searched for. You can search for things like contacts, apps, music (including songs, albums, and artists), notes, events, podcasts, and more. This can be a real timesaver if you have a lot of music and want to quickly play a song or if you have downloaded a lot of apps and can’t seem to remember where the app is on your homescreen. All you have to do is start typing the name of the song or the app and Spotlight Search will bring it right to you!
This tutorial will teach you: (1) how to use Spotlight Search, and (2) how to customize your search results by excluding specific categories of items from the search results (like excluding music or contacts from your search results).
Using Spotlight Search
Using Spotlight Search is easy and can save you a lot of time. Here’s how to use it:
When on your homescreen, swipe from the left side of the screen to the right.
Keep swiping until you get all the way to the left and your homescreen is replaced by a search box and a keyboard.
In the search box, type in whatever it is that you are looking for. You will notice that, as you type each character, Spotlight Search is providing instant feedback.
If, at any point, whatever it is that you are looking for appears in the list, just tap it to be taken to that item. (I could have tapped “Simple iPhone” in the earlier screenshot where I had only typed in “Sim”.)
If what you typed in the search box is something that cannot be found on your iPhone, Spotlight Search will provide buttons that, when tapped, will use your search terms to search the web or or to search Wikipedia.
Spotlight Search is continuously working to provide better, customized search results for you by learning from your prior searches. For example, if you often search for the “Calendar” app, that result will begin to appear when less letters are typed into the search box than before. (In other words, the “Calendar” app may start appearing in the results when you type “Ca” instead of only appearing after you type “Calend”).
Now you know the basics of using Spotlight Search!
Customizing Spotlight Search Results
You may not like certain items appearing in your Spotlight Search results. For example, you may not want contacts or emails to show up in your search results. Fortunately, Apple has provided a way to customize which categories of items will be included in your search results. In the Spotlight Search settings, you are able to enable or disable certain categories of items–effectively adding or removing everything included in those categories from the search results. (Choosing not to include certain categories of items in the Spotlight Search results will not delete those items. Rather, items from disabled categories will simply not appear in your Spotlight Search results, even if you type in the exact name of the item.)
To customize your Spotlight Search results, first tap your “Settings” app.
Find and tap “General”.
Scroll down until you find “Spotlight Search”. Tap it.
Here you will see a list of all of the different categories of items that you can choose to appear or not appear in your Spotlight Search results. A checkmark appearing next to a category indicates that items from that category will appear in your Spotlight Search results. Conversely, if there is no checkmark next to the category, then items from that category will not appear in your Spotlight Search results. Additionally, the three lines you see on the far right of each category are little “grips” that enable you to change the order in which the categories of items will appear in your Spotlight Searches (for example, having the “Contacts” results appear before the “Applications” results).
I will first explain how to enable and disable specific categories from appearing in your Spotlight Search results. After that, I will explain how to change the order in which various categories of items appear in your search results.
Let’s get started.
If you wanted to keep the contacts on your iPhone from appearing in your Spotlight Search results, simple tap on “Contacts”.
That’s it! The contacts you have stored on your iPhone will no longer appear in your Spotlight Search results.
If you change your mind and decide that you do want your contacts to appear in your Spotlight Search results, simply tap “Contacts” again.
The contacts stored on your iPhone will now appear in your Spotlight Search results.
Now I will explain how to change the order in which items from the various categories appear in your search results.
If you want results from your “Mail” application to appear first in your Spotlight Search results, simply tap and hold on the three lines to the right of “Mail”.
Drag the “Mail” category up to the top of the list. Let go once you reach the top of the list.
Congratulations! You have successfully customized your Spotlight Search results to have results from your “Mail” app appear before results from other categories.
That’s all there is to it. Now you can use Spotlight Search to save time and find those apps or songs your were looking for quicker than ever!