How to search your iPhone or iPad using Spotlight Search

what to know

  • On the Home or Lock screen: Swipe down from the center > Enter a search term > Select a result or tap Show more .
  • iOS 16 and later: Click Search at the bottom of the Home screen and use the shortcut in the search results.
  • iOS 17 or later: Take quick actions in Spotlight's search results.

This article explains how to use the Spotlight search feature on an iPhone or iPad running iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 and later.

Instead of searching through pages and pages of apps, use iPad's search feature to quickly find what you're looking for.

Spotlight Search searches your entire iOS device, including music, contacts, and email, and searches beyond your iPad or iPhone to bring in results from the web and the App Store.

To open Spotlight search on your iPad or iPhone, swipe down from the middle of the screen to see the search field.

You can turn on Spotlight on the Lock screen or Home screen in iOS 16 and later.

On iPad, you'll see the Spotlight search screen and search bar at the top of the display. This box also contains other options, such as Siri suggestions, weather, and calendar events.

On iPhone and iPad, you can choose which apps appear in Spotlight searches through Settings > Siri & Search > Selected Apps > Show Apps in Search .

On iPhone, this search bar appears in the middle of the home screen, with results displayed above the search field.

You can search anything on your iPad or iPhone, including contacts and emails. Spotlight search also works within apps, so you might see results from the Recipes app or phrases saved in Notes or text messages.

You have several options when searching and interacting with Spotlight search results. Here are some.

Open the Spotlight search screen and start typing the name of the application in the search field. To open the app you're looking for, click the icon that appears in the search results.

Some apps provide useful shortcuts and quick actions for Spotlight search on iPhone.

For example, in iOS 16, searching for the "timer" app brings up a timer shortcut that you can set up and monitor directly from Spotlight.

In iOS 17 or later, you can perform certain app actions directly from Spotlight. Options include:

  • If you search for airplane mode, the toggle feature will appear as a top result.
  • You can also search for Shazaam in Spotlight and use the Identify Music quick action to learn more about the song.

This feature also saves you time browsing your device's song library. Instead of opening the Music app and scrolling through a lengthy list of specific items, open Spotlight Search and start typing the name of a song or band. Search results are narrowed down quickly, and clicking on the name launches the song in the Music app.

You can also search for nearby businesses, such as restaurants.

For example, if you enter a specific restaurant name or dish into the search field, you might see nearby recommendations, the option to search the web, or see locations and driving directions in some apps like Yelp or Doordash Search map options.