Spotlight Search: What Is It? And How Do You Use It?

Stop Wasting Time Searching For an App or Song on Your iPad

An iPad using spotlight search

Spotlight Search may be the most underused feature on the iPad.  Instead of hunting through page after page of apps, you can use the iPad's search feature to find the app for you.  And because the search results update with each letter, you may only have to tap a few letters to bring the app to the top of the screen.  But Spotlight Search is about more than just launching apps.  It will search your entire iPad, including your movie collection, your music, your contacts and your email.


Spotlight Search will also search outside of your iPad.  It will bring in results from the app store, so if you are searching for an app that you deleted, it will show the App Store listing for that app.  If you are hungry, you can type "Chinese" and it will bring up nearby Chinese restaurants.  Spotlight Search can also bring up information from Wikipedia and search results from Bing.  

How to Open Spotlight Search

In order to open Spotlight Search, you will need to be on the Home Screen.  This is the screen full of app icons used to launch apps.  If you have an app launched, you can get to the Home Screen by clicking the Home Button, which is the button below your iPad's screen. 

Spotlight Search is revealed when you swipe down with your finger on any page of the Home Screen.  Be careful not to start on an app icon, which can cause you to inadvertently launch that app.    Simply place the tip of your finger somewhere in the middle of the screen between two app icons and move it straight down towards the bottom of the screen.

   Spotlight Search will be revealed as you move your finger down.

If you start on the top edge of the screen, you will actually reveal your recent notifications.  However, this screen has a search bar on it as well, so you can still access Spotlight Search results.  

How to Organize Your Spotlight Search Results

How to Use Spotlight Search 

The best feature of Spotlight Search is the ability to quickly launch an app.   If you've had your iPad for a while, you've probably filled it up with all kinds of great apps.   You can organize these apps into folders, but even with folders, you can find yourself often hunting for the right app.  Spotlight search lets you quickly search your entire iPad for the app.   Simply engage Spotlight Search, start typing the app's name and the icon will quickly appear on the screen.   It's much faster than hunting through screen after screen.

Are you feeling a binge watch coming on?  When you Spotlight Search a TV show, the results will show you whether or not it is on Netflix or Hulu Plus.  

If you have a large music collection, Spotlight Search can be your best friend.  Instead of opening the music app and scrolling through your list for a particular song or artist, you can open spotlight search and start typing in the name of the song or band.  The search results will quickly narrow, and the best part is tapping the name will launch the song in the Music app.

And the ability to search nearby locations isn't limited to just restaurants.  If you type 'gas', you will get nearby gas stations.

 If you type 'shoes', you will get shoe stores.   

Remember, you can search for anything on your iPad.  This includes movies, contacts, email messages, etc.   Spotlight Search can also search inside of apps, so you might see results from recipe app or a phrase saved in Notes or the Pages word processor. 

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