How to Use Spotlight to Search for Photos in iOS 15

Searching is much easier now

What to Know

  • Swipe down on the lock screen and enter your search, starting with 'Photos.'
  • You can search for people, scenes, locations, and most everything else.
  • If Spotlight search isn't working, tap Settings > Siri & Search > Photos to check it's enabled.

This article teaches you how to use Spotlight to search for photos in iOS 15. It also looks at what to do if Spotlight is not working on your iPhone.

How Do I Enable Spotlight Search on My iPhone?

Spotlight search for Photos is typically automatically enabled on your iPhone by default. If it doesn't appear to be enabled and activated, here's how to switch it on for your iPhone. 

  1. Tap Settings

  2. Scroll down and tap Siri > Search.

  3. Scroll down and tap Photos.

  4. Tap Show in Search

  5. Tap Show Content in Search.

    Steps needed to enable Spotlight for Photos on iOS 15
  6. Spotlight is now enabled for Photos.

How Do I Search for a Specific Photo on My iPhone?

If you want to search for a specific photo on your iPhone using Spotlight, it's fairly simple once you know where to look. Here's how to search for a specific photo.

  1. On your iPhone, swipe down on the Lock Screen or the Home Screen to bring up Spotlight Search.

    You may need to unlock your phone with a passcode, Touch ID, or Face ID first.

  2. Type 'Photos' followed by your search term. Terms can include locations, names of people, scenes, or something like 'cats,' 'food,' or 'plants' to look for specific themes.

    iOS 15 adds Live Text so it can extract text from your photos, meaning you can search for text mentioned on an image. 

  3. Tap the photo to open it.

  4. Tap Show More to view more results.

    Steps needed to search for photos on iOS 15

Why Is My Spotlight Search Not Working on My iPhone?

If Spotlight search isn't working on your iPhone, it can be for many different reasons. Here's a look at the main reasons why it might not be working.

  • You're entering the wrong search words. To search in Photos specifically, you need to type in Photos before your search entry. Sometimes, you'll still receive results on Spotlight without entering the term first, but for the best accuracy, it's crucial to enter Photos.
  • Spotlight isn't enabled on your iPhone. Tap Settings > Siri & Search > Photos to enable Spotlight search for photos on your iPhone. 
  • Your iPhone isn't unlocked. You'll need to unlock your iPhone to see the full results on Spotlight.
  • Restart your iPhone. Sometimes, a quick restart of your iPhone can fix the majority of problems. Try doing so to correct an issue.
  • Reopen Spotlight. If Spotlight appears to be blank, try closing it and reopening it to fix the error. 
  • How do I recover deleted photos on iOS?

    Go to Photos > Albums > Recently Deleted. Choose the photos you want to restore, then tap Recover.

  • How do I view hidden photos on my iPhone?

    Go to Albums > Other Albums > Hidden. To hide photos, select the photos you want to hide and tap the Action icon (the square with the arrow coming out of it), then swipe on the list of options at the bottom of the screen and tap Hide.

  • How do I add someone to the People album on iOS?

    Open a photo of the person, then swipe up and tap the thumbnail under People. Tap Add Name and enter a name. To put a name to a face, go to the People album and tap the thumbnail of the person, then tap Add Name at the top of the screen.

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