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Spotlight Search Tips for the iPhone

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Spotlight Search settings for the iPhone

To change search priorities and activate items, go to Settings > General > Spotlight. From here, you can check or uncheck items. Drag items by their handle to prioritize them. Items at the top will be listed first in Spotlight. If speed is important, make sure only a few items are checked. The fewer items Spotlight has to search, the faster you will get results. Spotlight is fast regardless of the number of items, because your content is indexed ahead of time.

Protect Your Privacy

If you don’t lock your iPhone, keep in mind that Spotlight could produce embarrassing results such as emails or videos. If you have embarrassing or mature content on your iPhone, you may want to omit these from search results. Once again, tap on Settings > General > Spotlight Search and uncheck anything that may have sensitive content. Even if you lock your iPhone, you could be in a situation where you are searching for something while someone is looking at your device.

What Else Can Spotlight Find?

Spotlight can do a lot more than search your content and launch apps. It is a great way to search the web and Wikipedia. This works better if you only have one searchable item, as web and Wikipedia results will appear at the bottom.

Other Spotlight Tips

If you have selected only one searchable item to keep the results fast and uncluttered, you can always turn on a search item temporarily to do a quick search. For the most part, it is easier to use the search functionality built into an app. For example, if you want to find a particular song, just use the search functionality in Music. Some may prefer the way Spotlight presents results. It is clean and uniform.

Make sure to revisit Spotlight Search settings after an iOS upgrade. Updates to iOS can often introduce new search items, and these may be turned on by default.

You may notice that your iPhone is slow after upgrading to a new version of iOS. This is partly because Spotlight is re-indexing all of your content. Your iPhone will return to peak performance once this has finished. This does not occur with every iOS update, but will typically occur with major updates, especially if the update adds new Spotlight Search items.

If you use Spotlight on your iPad, be careful where you tap your finger. If you tap outside of the search results, on the home screen, it will close Spotlight. This isn’t the case on the iPhone, as Spotlight results take up the entire width of the screen.

You can use Spotlight to do calculations, however, unlike with Mac OS X, it isn’t directly supported. Simply pull down Spotlight and enter an equation like “2 + 2 =”, then tap Search Web. You will see the solution presented in your search engine of choice. While this might not seem elegant, it is slightly more convenient than launching the calculator. iOS 8 will feature custom widgets in Notification Center, so you can add a calculator widget for easy access.

Use Spotlight and Google to do calculations

Spotlight is simple, elegant and extremely useful. If you have any tips on how to use Spotlight, please add a comment below.

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