How to Search Your iPad for Apps, Music, Movies, and More

Don't waste your time scrolling through screens

What to Know

  • Using Spotlight Search, swipe down on Home screen, enter search terms in Search or dictate a search by tapping Microphone.
  • Using Siri, hold Home until activation, then say. "Open [name of app]."

This article explains how to search on an iPad for a variety of files. Instructions apply to devices with iOS 9 or later.

How to Use Spotlight Search to Open Apps

Sometimes, searching for an app using iOS is faster than trying to remember which folder or screen you stashed it in. Spotlight Search can pull up any app installed on your iPad. If you haven't installed the program, it sends you to the App Store to download it. Here's how.

  1. Swipe down from anywhere on the Home screen.

    Don't swipe from the top edge of the screen, or you'll open the Notification Center or Control Center.

    Spotlight Search on iPad
  2. Spotlight Search contains a search bar and a keyboard. It also shows the last five apps you opened.

    App suggestions in Spotlight Search
  3. Type a search term. As you type, suggestions appear.

    Application located in Spotlight Search
  4. To dictate a search, tap the Microphone icon in the search bar.

    Using voice search in Spotlight
  5. Tap the icon of the app you want to open.

How to Open Apps with Siri

To open apps with the Apple digital assistant, hold the Home button until it activates, and then say "Open [name of app]." The iPad opens the app automatically.

Siri can't open apps that you offloaded to save space. You'll need to reinstall those apps first.

Search for More Than Apps with Spotlight Search

The Spotlight Search feature does more than launch apps. It searches your iPad for content. You can search for a song name, an album, or a movie you stored. Your search results also include text messages you sent and received, Settings options, files, emails, and other apps.

Spotlight Search also searches outside your iPad. If you type an app name that isn't on your iPad, it searches the App Store for that app and presents a link for you to download it. If you search for pizza, for example, it checks the Maps app for nearby pizza places. You can also do web searches without opening the Safari browser.

You can also activate a version of Spotlight Search by swiping from left to right on the Home screen. This version has the same search field at the top of the screen and includes widgets that you can customize to see your calendar quickly, check the weather, monitor screen time, and more.

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