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

Don't waste your time scrolling through screens

iPad Spotlight Search


With so many great apps to download on your iPad, it is easy to fill up screen after screen of apps. It isn't long before you find yourself searching those screens for a specific app. Don't waste your time scrolling. You can launch an iPad app even if you don't know where it is located using Spotlight Search, or you can tell Siri to open it.

Access Spotlight Search by swiping down from the middle — not the top — of the Home screen or any of the screens that hold apps. (Swiping from the top opens the Notification Center.) Just make sure you don't tap an app when you initially touch your finger on the screen or the iPad will think you want to launch that app.

When you activate Spotlight Search, you see a search box, and the on-screen keyboard pops up. You may also see the icons for the five apps you accessed most recently or the results from a previous search. As you start typing the name of an app in the search field, the results start filling in just below the search box. You should only need to type in the first few letters of the app's name before it narrows down enough to show the app you are looking for.

Think about how much faster that is than searching through several pages of app icons. Just swipe down, type Net, tap Search, and you have the Netflix icon ready to launch.

Still too much work? Press and hold the Home button to launch Siri. Say Open Netflix and the app opens. You don't even have to tap it.

Search for More Than Apps with Spotlight Search

The Spotlight Search feature is for much more than launching apps. It searches your entire iPad for content so you can search for a song name, an album, or a movie. It also searches contacts, mail messages, your Notes and Reminders apps and within many apps. This capability allows you to search for a movie name and come up with results in the Starz app.

Spotlight Search also searches outside your iPad. If you type an app's 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," it checks the Maps app for nearby pizza places. It will even perform a web search and check Wikipedia in case you are interested in the history of pizzas.

In addition to activating Spotlight Search by swiping down on the Home screen, you can also activate a version of it by swiping from left to right while on the first page of apps. This version has the same search field at the top of the screen but includes popular contacts, frequently used apps, and other sections you can configure to appear, such as Weather or Reminders. If you use the News app, this screen shows the top news stories.