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On the Apple Mac you can call up the Spotlight search bar with cmd + space bar. But how does it work on the iPhone? How do you find the iPhone search function and what functions does it fulfill? I answer these questions in this guide. First of all, a note: Using the search text field under iOS on the iPhone (as well as under iPadOS on the iPad) you can not only search for files, contacts and websites. It is also possible to quickly convert units and sizes. Have fun trying!
Note: This post was created in July 2021 and was updated on August 29, 2022 to provide information about the Spotlight update in iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 added.
Update: Spotlight on iPhone - Search update on iOS 16
The Spotlight search will be expanded and simplified with iOS 16 on the iPhone (as well as with iPadOS 16 on the iPad). New options and settings for searching on iPhone and the web will be available in September 2022. In addition, individual system functions can be selected faster. Here is an overview of the new features on the iPhone 14 and on older compatible Apple smartphones can be used:
- Search access in the home screen: On the home screen, i.e. the start screen with App-Overview, you can call up Spotlight by swiping from the top to the center of the image (see below). From iOS 16, however, a search button can also be placed above the dock, which replaces the dots that indicate the number of home screens. So you only have to tap instead of swiping, which is certainly easier to handle for many.
- Advanced image search: Photos and images can no longer only be searched for in the Photos app, but also in messages, notes and files with the corresponding search parameter addition "Photos". The photo content that iOS automatically recognizes includes people, places, text, pets, objects, etc. There are also exciting innovations in the Photos app itself from iOS 16: Here is an overview of the updates.
- Quick actions: From iOS 16, Quick Actions can also be executed via Spotlight. By entering "Timer" e.g. B. Call up the timer function of the clock app quickly and easily. However, other app functions can also be selected without having to search for and open the corresponding program - such as activating a focus, identifying a song with Shazam, etc.
- Improved Siri Suggestions: The search function on the iPhone has already brought Siri suggestions for frequently used apps and actions. These suggestions should be improved in the new operating system for the iPhone and adjusted even more to the time and any upcoming appointments.
- live activities: The new "Live Activities" introduced with iOS 16 can also be selected via the iPhone's search function. Whether it's a sports event, Uber ride, delivery service or other real-time transmission of information: Spotlight allows information to be selected more quickly and placed on the lock screen. However, live activities are not available for the iOS 16.0 release, but will be submitted with an update.
- Advanced search results: For some search queries, extensive information is already provided in Spotlight on the iPhone. If you are looking for certain actors, for example, films are suggested that can be streamed via Apple TV+. From iOS 16, there is also more information for companies, sports leagues, teams and more.
- App clips: Spotlight may suggest app clips in certain locations or situations. These are slimmed-down app versions with a maximum size of 10 MB, which offer the basic functions of a software without the need for a full download. App Clips were introduced with iOS 14 in 2020. more information is available here.
iPhone search function: This is how you activate the search text field
The Spotlight counterpart on iOS can be found on the home screen of your iPhone. This closes or minimizes all open apps or moves the lock screen out of the way. When you are ready, simply use the following step-by-step guide:
- Swipe down on the home screen (e.g. from the middle) (on iPhone 8 or older you have to swipe up from the bottom)
- Tap into the "Search" text field above
- Enter your search term, an equation or a value to be converted
- Select "Show more" or "Search in app" for an advanced search
- Tap on a search result (file, contact, website, etc.) to open it
Here is an animation from the official instructions from Apple, which you can find in the support document HT201285 finds:
Tip: Do not swipe down from the very top
There are various functions on the iOS home screen that you can activate by swiping gestures on the iPhone screen. The search function is just one of them. If you want to activate it, then I recommend that you really start from the middle of the display. Because if you start at the top of the screen (at the notch), then you pull the lock screen with the notifications down. If you swipe from the top right (where reception, WLAN and the battery are displayed), this will open control center. As you can see, beginners in particular need a bit of practice when it comes to using gestures on the Apple iPhone :D
As in Spotlight: Calculate and convert with the iPhone search function
Lately I showed you how to do it quickly, easily and without Google or an app Solve various conversion and calculation tasks on the Apple Mac can. In addition to mathematical equations that you can enter and that are solved in real time, temperatures, distances or other values can also be entered. The system then automatically converts this - for example ° F to ° C, dollars to euros or miles to kilometers. The same works on the iPhone. Simply enter the appropriate values in the "Search" field and you will get a conversion / result displayed.
After graduating from high school, Johannes completed an apprenticeship as a business assistant specializing in foreign languages. But then he decided to research and write, which resulted in his independence. For several years he has been working for Sir Apfelot, among others. His articles include product introductions, news, manuals, video games, consoles, and more. He follows Apple keynotes live via stream.
2 comments on “[Update] iPhone search function: Use Spotlight functions on your smartphone”
iPhone 8 and older have to be deleted from below. I think it would be helpful to point out these differences.
Thanks otherwise and best regards
Thanks! I added that directly. Good hint!