Search is undoubtedly one of the most underrated features on the iPhone. It’s meant to help you find anything on your smartphone, but the only thing it’s really used for is to find a specific application — which it’s great at, but it’s not the only thing it can do. The feature is much more than just a database for your apps, and it’s time you learned exactly how powerful it is.
If you swipe down from the top middle of your iPhone, you can quickly access Search to perform simple and complicated mathematical calculations, search for a WiFi password from a month-old text message, or even play a song from your favorite playlist on Apple Music — and that’s just the start. In this guide you’ll find everything you didn’t know you could do with Search on your iPhone.
- 1. Perform Simple & More Complicated Calculations
- 2. Find Text or Objects in Photos
- 3. Get Answers to Random Questions
- 4. Look Up Definitions to Difficult or Unknown Words
- 5. Find a File Saved in Files
- 6. Look for a Specific Phone Setting
- 7. Browse Apple Music & Play Songs
- 8. Quickly Run Siri Shortcuts
- 9. Find & Open Safari Tabs
- 10. Look for a Specific Text
- Other Things You Can Do in Search on Your iPhone
1. Perform Simple & More Complicated Calculations
You can use Search to quickly solve relatively simple equations. You can perform certain calculations using the following characters:
- Add: +
- Subtract: –
- Multiply: *
- Divide: /
- Decimal: .
- Bracket: ( )
Below you can see examples for simple multiplication (left) and a more complicated calculation (right). When typing in an equation, be sure to leave no spaces between numbers and characters, or else you won’t get an answer. Once you finish enter the equation, the answer should automatically appear.
Although this calculator feature may seem a bit simple, it follows the PEMDAS rule, shows repeating decimals, multiplies brackets, and so much more. Don’t attempt anything too complicated though, such as an equation with a variable, because it won’t work within Search (although you can then easily Google it).
2. Find Text or Objects in Photos
iOS 15 now allows you to search for text in any photo in your camera roll, and you can take advantage of this new feature in Search. If you type in something like “phone number” or “address,” any photo with those words in it will appear in Search, as long as the text is legible and Live Text can be used on it.
Apple can also scan your photos for thousands of objects in your photos, including animals, tools, people, landmarks, buildings, and more. For example, you can type in something like “cat” or “dog” and you’ll see a grid of up to eight photos with your furry friends. If you tap on Search in App, you’ll be redirected to the Photos application to view more photos with that object in them.
3. Get Answers to Random Questions
Siri Knowledge is a feature that uses Safari to show you snippets of information from Wikipedia and other websites whenever you type in a question into Search. You can type in questions about celebrities, upcoming movies, animals, astronomy, finances, history, and pretty much anything else you can think about. Try it and you’ll quickly get answers to questions like:
- How tall is Brad Pitt?
- How many days does it take to get to the moon?
- Who was the 5th president of the United States?
- How much money is Jeff Bezos worth?
- When is Dune being released?
- How many teeth does a great white shark have?
The answer will appear in a window at the top of the Search page, along with the source and an image, if applicable. Underneath you’ll find queries for other similar questions as yours. If the answer appears, you can tap on it to view more information. If you need to know more, you can tap on “See More on ________” and you’ll be redirected to that website in Safari.
4. Look Up Definitions to Difficult or Unknown Words
You might have a dictionary application on your iPhone, but you don’t really need it thanks to Search. Simply type in the word and the definition should appear. Tap on the definition to view other forms of the word, more definitions, phrases, derivatives, the origin of the word, and more. If the definition doesn’t automatically appear, type in “definition” after the word. Sometimes if the word is simple, or very popular, the definition won’t automatically appear.
5. Find a File Saved in Files
If you store photos, resumes, school and work documents, MP3s, or PDF files on your iPhone, it’s a safe bet that you save them to the native Files application. It’s a great place to keep your precious files on the cloud and access them from all your Apple products, and you can use Search to easily find them. Simply type in the name of the file (or even the file extension, i.e. PDF or DOCX) and you should see the file appear in Search. If you tap on it, it’ll open the file in the Files app.
6. Look for a Specific Phone Setting
The Settings application is filled with hundreds of options, which can make it difficult to find a specific setting. Although you can search directly in the Settings app, you can also do so from Search. Type in the name of a setting, like AssistiveTouch or VPN, and the option to quickly view the setting will pop-up in Search. Tap on it and you’ll be redirected to Settings, where the specific setting you searched for will be highlighted in grey for a second so you can easily find it.
7. Browse Apple Music & Play Songs
Apple Music is part of the Apple ecosystem, and so it would make sense that it’s compatible with the Search function. Instead of browsing through the music application, you can type in an artist, song, or album into Search to quickly bring up results. Best of all, if the option you’re looking for pops up, you can tap on the play button to quickly play the music without having to go into Apple Music.
8. Quickly Run Siri Shortcuts
Siri Shortcuts allow you to do everything from downloading videos on YouTube to alerting you when your battery is full. The options are endless, and if you’re a fan, you might have several dozen of them on your iPhone. If you know the name of the shortcut you want to run, you can type it into Search and run it directly from there. A pop-up will appear at the top of the screen if your shortcut runs successfully.
9. Find & Open Safari Tabs
You might have hundreds of Safari tabs open, which can make it nearly impossible to quickly find the one you want. Although you can search for a tab in the address bar, you can also easily do it in Search. Using just a keyword, such as “guitar,” you can bring up every tab in Safari that has that keyword in it. You can then tap on it to open the tab in Safari. The feature also works for third-party web browsers, such as Chrome.
10. Look for a Specific Text
If you’re looking for a specific text message, you can use Search to quickly find it. Simply type in a keyword or sentence, such as “Wi-Fi password” or “What’s your address,” and you should see a number of text messages appear in Search, along with the contact name and message preview. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, tap on Search in App to be sent to the Messages search tool, which will provide more text messages to go through.
Other Things You Can Do in Search on Your iPhone
In addition to the ten listed features, there are several more things you can do in Search, including:
- Quickly text or call suggested contacts
- Search through notes in the Notes application
- Use keywords to receive Siri suggested websites
- Find an application in the App Store
- Get directions to and call a location in Apple Maps
- Search through emails in the Mail application
- Find a podcast or episode in the Podcast application
- Search for a contact saved on your phone
- Check out the latest story on the News application
- Find an event in your calendar
- Launch an app (but you already knew that)
- And more
Spotlight Search is a vastly underrated tool that can be used to quickly run any number of actions, across the iOS ecosystem, from a single place. If you’ve never really used it before, now might be the time to try out any number of the features listed above. Do you use Search, and if so, what for? Let us know in the comments below!
i like to write stuff.