How to Use Spotlight Search

Though Spotlight Search is nothing new on the iPhone, or other iOS devices like the iPad and iPod Touch, it has become central on the iPhone 4s and iOS 5.  Now that people are using more apps, integrating them even further, and generally having much more content on devices that range all the way up to 64 GB of storage space and remote locations with iCloud, this has become a must use tool that used to be looked over.  Though it may be somewhat common sense, there is a certain art to using it and knowing how to change its settings so that you are able to utilize it properly.  Here is a look at how to use Spotlight Search on your iOS device.

The primary function of the Spotlight Search is to quickly locate items on your iPhone from all the storage areas, including Contacts, media, apps, and other elements.  If you have a lot of apps, music, or other things, it is faster to simply Spotlight Search for it than to have to browse through the available menus or screens to find it.  It is not beneficial to use it for apps that are on your front couple of pages, so you want to begin utilizing this when you need to quickly search without much browse time.  To bring up Spotlight Search you will go back to your main home screen and then slide to the right, which will bring up the search box.  This is the opposite direction than the regular flow of iPhone app pages.

Spotlight will also begin filling in the search based on the letters and numbers as you enter, so you may have to get a little specific if you want to differentiate your Facebook app from a Contact named Frank.  When the options appear below the search box you can select it and it will activate it, which in the case of apps will just open it up.


Spotlight Search on the iPhone 4s is actually going to be essential to use for apps if your number of apps surpasses the ten-page limit you have.  This is not extremely common since most people collect apps together into folders, but with larger storage spaces the number of apps a person can have will generally exceed what is seen.  Once you have actually maxed out your page space the apps you sync or download to your iPhone 4s will be on there, but will not display.  Instead, you will have to search for them in Spotlight Search to find and select them.


Customization is central to the iPhone 4s and you can do this even to the Spotlight Search.  This mainly works by excluding things that will appear in the search results.  This is important since the purpose of Spotlight Search is to speed up access to iPhone content.  If there are too many results then it will still take quite a bit of time, so it is best to exclude items that you know that you are not going to want to select through the search.

Start by going into Settings and then go down to General, which is at the top of the third block of options.  Once in General find Spotlight Search, which is directly under iTunes Wi-Fi Sync.  Here you will be given a list of different items that are found in the Spotlight Search with check marks next to all of them.  If you want to remove them from the possible search results you can just select it and it removes the check mark.  This contact includes Contacts, Applications, Music, Podcasts, Videos, Audiobooks, Notes, Events, Mail, Voice Memos, Reminders, and Messages.  This list also indicates the order in which these things will be displayed in the search results, with the top results being Contacts, Applications, and Music, and then going down from there.  If, for example, you know that the first thing you will search for is Mail you can move that to the top of the list so that you can keep it itemized.  To change the order select the three barred icon to the right of the item and then slide it up or down the list.

One thing that you should consider on the iPhone 4s that is different from other iPhone incarnations that include Spotlight Search is that it has Siri.  This service uses voice commands to both find things on your phone and outside of it on the Internet or using your phone’s communication functions.  You can use voice commands to open many of the things that you can find in the search results, though this does not work for everything.  For example, if you want to listen to a specific song then Siri may be the easiest way to go.  On the other hand, it will not be able to interact with third party apps in the same way, so if you just want to open one then you should go to Spotlight.

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