How to customize your Spotlight results on iOS

Apple included the Spotlight feature similar to that found in OS X starting with iOS 4. Spotlight allows you to search for e-mails, contacts, messages, apps, and much more on your iDevice. This simple guide will show you how to tailor the search results to fit your preferences.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani

The Spotlight feature of iOS allows you to search your entire iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch for an e-mail, a contact, an app, or a particular note and much more. When you start using Spotlight, you may not really like the order of search results, or perhaps you don't want to see music results while using Spotlight. This simple guide will show you how to customize the Spotlight feature to fit your preferences and needs.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani

You may be asking exactly where Spotlight is located on your iOS device, or you may already be using it and just not realize that it has an official title. From the home screen on your iDevice, you can either single-click the Home button, or swipe the home screen from left to right in order to reveal the Spotlight search bar.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani

In order change the Spotlight preferences you will need open the Settings app, and tap on General.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani

Halfway down the screen you should see an option titled Spotlight Search, tap on it.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani

On this screen you will see not only what is included in the Spotlight search results, but you will also see the current order the results will be presented to you.

If you want to change the order of the search results, simply place your finger on the right side of a row, dragging it to the your preferred place in order. Repeat this step until the order of search results satisfy you. You can also omit a particular app from being included in the search results by tapping on the row and removing the check mark.

In the first screen shot at the top of this post, you can see that we searched for Twitter in Spotlight. The first result was the Twitter app, followed by all Twitter-related e-mails. If we would have scrolled to the bottom of the search results, we would have found the contact entry for Twitter as well.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani

By moving the contact option up to the top of the list in the Spotlight settings, we will start seeing contact results at the top of the results for future searches.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani

As you can see, searching Twitter again returns the Twitter contact entry at the top of the list, followed by the app and then all related e-mails.

Spotlight is a great way to find information quickly on your iOS device. By customizing the results, you will make Spotlight a much more productive feature that fits your needs.

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About the author

Jason Cipriani has been covering mobile technology news for over five years. His work spans from CNET How To and software review sections to WIRED’s Gadget Lab and Fortune.com.

 

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