How to Use Spotlight Searches on Your iPhone - dummies

How to Use Spotlight Searches on Your iPhone

By Joe Hutsko, Barbara Boyd

Spotlight is iPhone’s search feature for finding things stored on your iPhone or on the web. To access Spotlight from any Home screen, flick down from the middle of the screen. Spotlight Search opens on top of the Home screen.


Your search criteria can contain numbers, so you can search for a phone number, date, or address. Spotlight searches the apps, which you specify in Settings, on your iPhone for the word, phrase, or number you type.

For example, if you type in the name Bonnie, a list appears showing all the places where that name was found: contacts named Bonnie, songs by Bonnie Raitt, the Burl Ives song “Wee Bonnie Lass,” e-mails exchanged with anyone named Bonnie, appointments with Bonnie or Bonnie birthdays, and any notes you may have jotted down about Bonnie.

If Spotlight finds an app with the word you’re searching and it’s in a folder, the name of the folder is displayed to the right of the result.


You also have access to Spotlight within many apps using the Spotlight search field at the top of an app’s screen. In the Mail, Messages, Reminder, or Safari apps, tap the status bar to open Spotlight. In Contacts, the Search field is always visible.

In other apps, any time you see the magnifying glass icon, you can tap it to open Spotlight. To search for something within an app, do the following:

  1. Tap in the Spotlight field.

    If you don’t see the Spotlight search field — on app screens that support Spotlight — tap the status bar at the top of iPhone’s screen to make the Spotlight search field appear or pull the app screen down to unhide the Spotlight search field when you don’t see it.

    The blinking cursor appears and the keyboard opens.

  2. Type in your word or phrase and then tap Search.

    Spotlight searches within the app you’re using and displays any items that match your search criteria.

  3. Tap an item in the list to view that item’s contents.

When you search from within an app, iPhone searches only in that app.

You can alter the Spotlight settings to limit your searches to certain apps or priority order in which the apps are searched. To change Spotlight settings,

  1. Open Settings→General→Spotlight Search.

    The Spotlight Search list opens.

  2. Tap the name of the app in the list to make the check mark on the left appear or disappear.

    A check mark means Spotlight will search that app when looking for something from the Spotlight search screen or within that app.

  3. To change the order of the apps, press and hold the rearrange icon to the right of the app, and then drag up and down to move it.


    Spotlight searches in the apps at the top of the list first when doing a search.