Find everything on an Apple iPhone, iPad and Mac

Apple has a feature that can make your searches a bit easier, and it’s called Spotlight Search. It is available on all iPhones, iPads and Macs with an iOS 8 update or later.

What is Spotlight Search?

The goal of Spotlight Search is to waste less time searching for a specific app on your phone or a photo you may have sent to a friend weeks ago. Instead, you can type something into Spotlight Search, which will scan your entire device for anything related to the term you typed.

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Spotlight Search can search for many things, including your music, contacts, email, weather, calendar, maps, news, and more. It can even pull in external results from the web and the App Store. Or say you want to do a quick math equation, currency conversion, measurement conversion, or temperature conversion. Then Spotlight Search will immediately give you the answer you are looking for.

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Start searching for content on your Apple device by opening the search function.

Start searching for content on your Apple device by opening the search function.
(Fox news)

Why is Spotlight Search better than searching specific apps?

Spotlight Search ends up fetching more content for you, giving you all the options you need on one page instead of having to open multiple different apps to search for something. For example, let’s say you wanted to listen to Billy Joel’s song “Piano Man.”

You can type “Billy Joel ‘Piano Man'” into your Spotlight search. It gives you a tab to go directly to the song on Apple Music and gives you website links to its music videos and the Wikipedia page to the song’s history so you can get a lot more out of your search.

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An example of how to search for content on your Apple device.  In this case from Billy Joel

An example of how to search for content on your Apple device. In this case “Piano Man” by Billy Joel.
(Fox news)

Open Spotlight Search on your iPhone or iPad

If you have the iOS 16 update or later:

  • It can be accessed by swiping down from the center of your home screen
  • Click on the search circle (may also appear as a pair of horizontal dots) on the first page of your Home screen just above your Phone, Mail, Safari, and Apple Music apps. This will open Spotlight Search automatically.

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An example of how to use the Spotlight search feature on your iPhone or iPad.

An example of how to use the Spotlight search feature on your iPhone or iPad.
(Fox news)

If you have the iOS 15 update or earlier:

  • Unlock your iPhone or iPad to reveal your home screen
  • Swipe left from the first page of your home screen, and then you will see the search window.

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Instructions for finding content on an Apple device.

Instructions for finding content on an Apple device.
(Fox news)

How to open Spotlight Search on your Mac

  • Look at the top bar that goes over your Mac’s home screen (where the Apple Icon, File, Edit, etc. options are)
  • There should be one on the right side of that bar next to your Wi-Fi icon magnifying glass icon. Click that to open Spotlight Search.

Note: Instructions may vary by model

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An example of how to open the search function on a Mac computer by pressing the magnifying glass.

An example of how to open the search function on a Mac computer by pressing the magnifying glass.
(Fox news)

An example of what the Spotlight search looks like when opened on a Mac computer.

An example of what the Spotlight search looks like when opened on a Mac computer.
(Fox news)

Change search settings on an Apple device

You can change the search settings to limit which apps and results are displayed during a search. Here’s how:

  • Go to Settings and tap Siri & Search
  • Scroll down and select an app
  • Then select Show app in search, Show content in search, Show on home screen, Suggest app or Suggest notifications.

Let us know what you think of this new Apple search feature. We’d love to hear from you.

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