Lots of people have found the Spotlight or Search is not working on their iPhone or iPad. This problem often starts after upgrading to a new device or updating the operating software. Without Spotlight or Search, it’s harder to find what you’re looking for on your device.
The Spotlight or Search function on your iPhone or iPad is a powerful tool. Use it to quickly find contacts, messages, apps, and other content from your device. Drag down from the Home screen or swipe right from the Notification Center to access it. You can even use it to search the web!
If Spotlight or Search stopped working on your iPhone or iPad, use the tips in this post to fix it.
- 1 Quick tips
- 2 Why is Spotlight or Search not working on my iPhone?
- 3 How do I fix Spotlight or Search not working on my iPhone?
- 3.1 1. Close every app and restart your device
- 3.2 2. Update to the latest release of iOS or iPadOS
- 3.3 3. Temporarily change the language on your device
- 3.4 4. Turn off Spotlight or Search for individual apps
- 3.5 5. Remove Shortcuts widgets from the Home screen
- 3.6 6. Erase and restore your device using a computer
- 4 Did you find these tips useful?
- Close all apps and restart
- Update your iOS or iPadOS
- Temporarily change your device’s language
- Toggle off Siri Suggestions and learning
- Try removing the Shortcuts widget from your Home Screen
- iOS 13 or iPadOS problems and how to fix them — Troubleshooting Guide
- Can’t search for old text messages after iPhone update or restore?
- How to find missing or hidden apps on iPhone or iPad
Why is Spotlight or Search not working on my iPhone?
There are two possible causes for Spotlight or Search problems: hardware and software.
If you have an older device, the processor might struggle to keep up with new software releases. Typically, Apple stops licensing software updates for older devices. But you still might find your iPhone is getting slow even if you can still update it.
More often, the Spotlight or Search function stops working because of a software problem. This might be a bug in iOS or iPadOS that Apple needs to fix. Or it might be an issue with the software on your device in particular.
Whatever the reason, you can fix Spotlight or Search problems using the troubleshooting solutions in this post.
Spotlight or Search may need to re-index your content after upgrading
When you upgrade your iPhone or iPad, the new device needs to index all your content before it turns up in the search results. Sometimes this takes a couple of days. You should leave your iPhone or iPad plugged in as much as possible during this period.
You might also find that your device needs to re-index your data after updating the software. Make sure you allow a couple of days before using the steps below to fix any underlying problems.
How do I fix Spotlight or Search not working on my iPhone?
Use the steps outlined below to troubleshoot Spotlight or Search problems in iOS or iPadOS. Test your device again after each step to see if the Spotlight or Search function is working. And let us know in the comments what fixes it for you!
1. Close every app and restart your device
This is the first thing to try if anything stops working on your iPhone or iPad. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen or double-click the Home button, then swipe every app off the top of the screen to close it.
After you close all the apps, press and hold the Sleep/Wake button with either volume button. Slide to power off your iPhone or iPad, then wait at least 30 seconds before restarting it.
2. Update to the latest release of iOS or iPadOS
A lot of the time, a problem like Spotlight or Search not working is the result of software bugs on your iPhone or iPad. When this happens, Apple eventually releases new updates to patch the bugs. You just need to wait for that update.
Make sure you update your device to the latest version of iOS or iPadOS so you get all the latest fixes. Connect your iPhone or iPad to a working Internet connection, then go Settings > General > Software Update.
3. Temporarily change the language on your device
This seems like a weird one, but it has proven to be an effective solution for a lot of people with this problem. Temporarily change the language on your iPhone or iPad, then change it back again.
To do this, go to Settings > General > Language & Region. If your language is set to English, change it to a different English-speaking region such as Australia, Canada, or the UK.
After you change the language, swipe up from the bottom of the screen or double-click the Home button and close the Settings app. Then change the language back to normal.
4. Turn off Spotlight or Search for individual apps
You might be able to jump-start Spotlight or Search by turning it off and on again. Do this for every single app on your device by going to Settings > Siri & Search. Tap your app names at the bottom of the screen and turn off all the following buttons:
- Learn from this App
- Show in Search
- Suggest Shortcuts
- Show App
- Show Siri Suggestions
After you turn everything off, try the Spotlight or Search feature again. Then return to the Siri & Search settings and turn on the above options for a couple of apps. Test Spotlight, then turn more apps on and repeat.
If you have an older device, you might want to limit Spotlight or Search to only the important apps.
5. Remove Shortcuts widgets from the Home screen
Shortcuts are a great tool for adding new functionality to your iPhone or iPad. Especially if you use those Shortcuts with the Home screen widget.
Unfortunately, some users found this widget made Spotlight or Search stop working. You should turn it off to see if it helps. Go to your Home screen and swipe right to see the widgets. Scroll to the bottom and tap Edit, then remove Shortcuts.
6. Erase and restore your device using a computer
Failing all else, you can fix most problems on your iPhone or iPad by reinstalling the software and restoring it from a backup. We recommend you do this using a computer. Otherwise, your iPhone or iPad won’t reinstall the software properly.
Make a backup of your iPhone or iPad before you start. Connect it to a computer and select Back Up Now in iTunes or Finder. Then follow these instructions to put your device in Recovery Mode.
Select Restore Backup in Finder or iTunes and choose the backup you just made. It might take a little while to restore everything on your iPhone or iPad, but Spotlight or Search should work again after you do so.
Did you find these tips useful?
We use your feedback and comments to keep updating our posts, making them even better for future readers. Is Spotlight or Search still not working on your iPhone or iPad? Or did one of our suggestions help you fix it?
Please share your experiences in the comments!
Dan is a freelance writer based in South West England.
He spent two years supervising repairs as a Genius Admin for Apple Retail and uses that knowledge to keep our troubleshooting guides up to date.
Long before that, Dan turned to Apple products from a musical background. Having owned iPods for years, he bought a MacBook to learn sound recording and production. It was using those skills that he gained a first-class Bachelor of Science in Sound Technology.