Three Tips to Get Your Search On In iOS

Posted by Brett Barner with 10 Comments


This may be more of a PSA than an actual tips article, but sometimes we get so ingrained in our own system of doing things, we forget that there are better ways out there.

1. Remember that Spotlight Exists

Remember that extra dark screen when you swipe beyond the left of the home screen? Yeah, that’s Spotlight. Because iOS is so app focused, it is easy to forget not to jump to that particular app to start your search. For example, when I’m looking for a contact, I unlock the phone, then run to the contacts or phone app, then search. However, I often forget that I can just go to the Spotlight page and search. The great thing about Spotlight is that it searches more than just contacts; which brings me to…

2. Configure Spotlight for Optimal Search

To get to the configuration screen for Spotlight, go to Settings > General > Spotlight Search. From there, you can begin your customization. From this screen, you can see what all Spotlight searches when you start typing. By default, every option is enabled, but you can make things more efficient by disabling those you don’t use like Voice Memos, Audiobooks, or Podcasts. You can also move the selections around to organize how the results will list.

3. Download and Install the Google App

Spotlight does give you the option to search the web or Wikipedia. Unfortunately, Spotlight throws these two options at the bottom of all the results, then sends you to Safari. The Google App [iTunes Link] gives you a quicker way to search and you can stay in Google’s browser for even better efficiency. It also gives you the options to search by old-fashioned typing, voice and even picture with Google Goggles. This recently updated (and free) app gives you better performance and a new look that’s worth making it an integrated part of your day to day search.

You can also use Siri or alternate apps to search, but in my uses, I have had better efficiencies using the methods mentioned above.

How do you search on your iPhone or iPad? Any other tips to add to the list?

Brett Barner


Brett Barner likes Apple in both technology and fruit forms. The former he uses as fancy calculators from the future to connect to the internets; where he then writes about his experiences here. The later he uses for pies. Additional writings can be found on his personal blog,, and Twitter @brettbarner.

10 responses to Three Tips to Get Your Search On In iOS

  1. very helpful! thanks

  2. Great tips! I space this sometimes.

  3. I love spotlight search. I use it all the time. I just type what I want and then hit “safari” afterwards. Cool option.

    Oh, and I have to disagree about Google app. No way! I downloaded the Duck Duck Go app. Much better app (they don’t track you and sell your soul like Google does). :)

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