Spotlight Search is one of the most underrated features of iOS. It defines the ‘iPhone experience’ for me. While iOS 15 boasted many features, like FaceTime Links, Offline Siri, and Live Text, one of the silent improvements Apple made was to the Spotlight Search. It is now more powerful and accessible.
Let’s look at how to use Spotlight Search, its excellent features, and how it helps make your life easier.
- How to turn on or off Spotlight Search in iOS 15
- Spotlight Search features introduced in iOS 15 on iPhone
- How to delete history in iOS Spotlight Search on iPhone
How to turn on or off Spotlight Search in iOS 15
By default, Spotlight Search is enabled on your iPhone. You can swipe down on your Home Screen to access it.
For some reason, Apple doesn’t allow you to disable Spotlight Search altogether. However, you can remove Siri suggestions from Search. Here’s how;
- Open iPhone Settings.
- Scroll down until you see Siri & Search.
- Under Siri Suggestions, toggle on or off;
- Suggestions while Searching: This will stop Spotlight Search from completing the sentence while searching for something.
- Suggestions on Lock Screen: Your iPhone, based on your usage, offers recommendations for apps, notifications, others on Lock Screen. You can disable them by toggling off this option.
- Suggestions on Home Screen: Similarly, iPhone also offers some recommendations on the Home Screen. Turn off to disable it.
- Suggestions when Sharing: Have you noticed how your recently contacted friends come up when you share a photo or anything via Share Sheet? If you don’t want someone specific to show up in the Share Sheet, disable this toggle.
Spotlight Search features introduced in iOS 15 on iPhone
- Install, move, and delete apps directly
- Search text within photos
- Access Spotlight Search from the Lock Screen
- More options for contacts
- Quickly search for movies and TV shows
- Search for objects, places, animals, and more in Photos
- Access App Clips from search results
- Find a location, calendar event, files, and more
1. Install, move, and delete apps directly
In iOS 15, you can directly install apps from Spotlight Search. Type the app you’re looking for in the search bar and hit the Get button. This feature comes in handy when you don’t have time to go to the App Store and download the app.
In previous iOS versions, it was not possible to add an app to Home Screen. Now, you can drag the app from Spotlight Search directly to the Home Screen without going to the App Library. Similarly, you can directly uninstall apps from Spotlight Search.
2. Search text within photos
One of the significant improvements in iOS 15 is Live Text. This feature extracts the text from your photos and helps you copy, paste, and take actions based on the text present in the photo.
Spotlight Search indexes the whole of the text in your photos. Using this, you can directly search within photos from Spotlight Search. Let’s say you want to search for a photo, but you don’t remember when you took the photo. You remember some words mentioned in the photo, though.
Open Spotlight Search and directly type in the words you remember, and voila! Spotlight Search presents you with the same photo. This comes in handy in tons of situations.
3. Access Spotlight Search from the Lock Screen
iOS 15 also allows you to access Spotlight Search directly from the Lock Screen. Simply swipe down on your iPhone’s Lock Screen, and a ‘locked’ version of Spotlight Search comes up.
It doesn’t allow the user to use Search to its full extent — since the iPhone isn’t unlocked yet — but it allows you to do the basic tasks.
You can quickly make a call, open apps, and even check a fact from your Lock Screen. Though this feature can trigger a lot of accidental searches, it is useful.
4. More options for contacts
Contact screen has gotten a ground-zero UI refresh this time. It provides contextual results like your last call to that contact and your messages and shows actions from other apps.
Now, you’ll get a direct option to contact the person through other apps — like send a message on WhatsApp. Spotlight Search even shows the photos of the person, if any, on your iPhone.
Moreover, you can use Apple Pay to pay the contact from Spotlight Search directly. Tapping the $ symbol takes you to the Messages app on the iPhone. You can now directly pay contact using the Apple Pay service.
5. Quickly search for movies and TV shows
Movies and TV Shows results have gotten richer in iOS 15. Instead of Googling the TV show that you want to watch and then search the streaming service, you can directly search for the show in Spotlight Search. The iOS will take you to the streaming service’s page.
The search results also provide you with Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb ratings. Along with the results about TV shows and movies, you can dive into the search results for the cast and other crew members.
6. Search for objects, places, animals, and more in Photos
Thanks to the proper utilization of the Neural-core chip, Spotlight Search now provides image results for animals, places, and even objects like novels, etc. Search for things like “animals” or “golden retriever” in Spotlight Search, and if your photos contain a subject similar to it, it will show under the Photos From Apps section.
7. Access App Clips from search results
Spotlight in iOS 15 shows actions for the businesses on Maps results. In addition to making a call, getting directions, and checking the timings, if a business supports App Clips, you can now get an option to install the App Clip for that business in the Spotlight Search Map result.
For example, from Search, you may be prompted to pull up a restaurant’s menu, book a table, make appointments, order takeout, join a waitlist, see showtimes, pay for parking, check prices, and do more.
8. Find a location, calendar event, files, and more
Since Spotlight Search is integrated into every section of the iOS ecosystem now, it makes the whole system searchable. Spotlight Search in iOS 15 works a lot like Mac’s Spotlight, and it makes Spotlight Search the ‘Google’ of your phone.
You can look for documents in the Files app, search for a text message in the search bar, check your calendar, and do more with Spotlight.
How to delete history in iOS Spotlight Search on iPhone
Apple doesn’t allow you to delete Spotlight Search history. If you searched for something that took you to Safari, you’d have to remove the search from Google. Here’s how you can delete Google Search and other activity on iPhone.
If you don’t want Spotlight Search to show a particular suggestion, here’s how to disable it:
- Open Spotlight Search by swiping down the Home Screen.
- Now, tap and hold the suggestion you want to delete.
- Select Suggest Shortcut Less.
Apple has certainly taken a big step in Spotlight Search in iOS 15. Features like Live Text search are a big step in making Spotlight Search more usable, and I’m sure once you start using the new Spotlight Search, you’ll be amazed by its capabilities.
Have you got another Spotlight Search tip for us? Let us know in the comments section down below!