How To Use New Spotlight Search on iPhone on iOS 15: 12 Killer Tips

iOS 15 is adding a ton of features with improvements to FaceTime, Safari, Find My, and Photos so that you can make the most out of your iPhone. Alongside these new changes, Apple is also making the ability to search for stuff on your iPhone easier than ever with an update to Spotlight.

Spotlight on iOS 15 is more functional than ever as it brings with it improved features like wider image searches (animals, people, places, and more), recent conversations, new search cards, shared photos, appointments, and more. In this post, we’ll help understand the many ways you can use Spotlight on iOS 15 to get things done on your iPhone. 

#1: Install apps from Spotlight Search

Installing an app on iOS is pretty easy but in iOS 15, that has been made a lot easier thanks to the new Spotlight. With this, you can search an app on Spotlight and install it without ever leaving the Spotlight screen. 

To install an app via Spotlight, launch Spotlight by swiping downwards on your Home Screen. 

When Spotlight appears, search for an app you want to install by typing its name on the search bar at the top. 

If the app’s available on the App Store, you should be able to see it at the top of Spotlight’s search results. You can download the app by tapping on the ‘Get’ button or the Cloud icon adjacent to it. 

Apple may ask you to authenticate your download if that’s how you’ve set up App Store on your device. 

When authentication is successful, Spotlight will show the progress of the app’s download and then install it. 

After the app has been installed, you will be able to access the app directly within the search results by tapping on the ‘Open’ button adjacent to the app’s name. 

#2: Use App Shortcuts directly within Spotlight

Spotify already allowed you to open apps directly on Spotlight but if you want to access parts of the app’s functionality directly, you can also do that using its app shortcut like you would on your iOS Home Screen. 

To do this, launch Spotlight by swiping downwards on your Home Screen. 

Find an app that you want to access by searching for it on the search bar. 

When the app appears in the search results, tap and hold on the app’s icon until an overflow menu appears.

This menu will resemble the one you may be familiar with on your iOS Home Screen. Select your desired app shortcut you want to directly open within the app and it will do so as intended. 

#3: Delete Apps from Spotlight

You can also uninstall apps on your iPhone directly within Spotlight. For this, launch Spotlight and find the app you want to remove from your device by searching for it on the search bar. 

Once the app appears inside search results, tap and hold on its icon. 

In the overflow menu that appears, select the ‘Delete App’ option and confirm the changes. 

The app will now only disappear from Spotlight’s search results but will also be removed from your iPhone. 

#4: Move apps from Spotlight to Home Screen

If you want to move a newly installed app or an existing one onto your iOS Home Screen, you were previously required to search it on the App Library and drag and drop it. iOS 15 negates the need for that and allows you to quickly move apps from Spotlight to your iPhone Home Screen. 

For this, find the app you want to move by launching Spotlight and searching for the app you wish to move on the search bar. 

To move an app from the search results, tap and hold on its icon and drag it towards an empty space.

When Spotlight disappears drop the app’s icon anywhere you wish on your iOS Home Screen.

On iPhones with a Home button, Spotlight won’t automatically disappear. To make it disappear, you need to use your other hand to press the Home button on your iPhone and then place the app’s icon to your desired position on the Home Screen. 

#5: Use Spotlight from your Lock screen 

Back during the rollout of iOS 7, Apple moved Spotlight from the left of the Home Screen to be accessible by simply swiping downwards on the Home Screen. With iOS 15, Apple is making Spotlight accessible from your iPhone’s Lock Screen using the same gesture, even if your device is locked. 

All you have to do is swiping downwards on your Lock Screen until the Spotlight triggers and search for whatever you want. 

If your iPhone is unlocked or isn’t enabled with Touch ID or Face ID, you should be able to directly take actions from Spotlight. 

If your iPhone is locked, you will be asked to authenticate using Touch ID or Face ID and then the app or search result will be accessible for you. 

#6: Search for objects, places, scenes, and more

Spotlight has also been enhanced with Siri intelligence and can thus look for objects, pets, people, scenes, and places from your photos so that searching for them on Spotlight points you to exactly what you searched for. You can bring up Spotlight by swiping down and search for anything you want to search by entering your query in the search bar. 

Spotlight will then go through all of your personal photos locally and provide you with all the results related to what you searched for. You can scroll down on the Spotlight’s search screen and find photos of the object you searched for under the ‘Photos From Apps’ section inside the search results. 

#7: Search for text in your pictures

In addition to leveraging Siri intelligence, Spotlight is also getting some of Photos’ Live Text functionality. The feature works in similar ways to the one we explained above. Instead of searching a category of objects, you can specifically search for texts that were captured in a picture or screenshot saved on your iPhone. 

For this, open Spotlight by swiping downwards on your Home Screen and search for a text that you think any of your photos have captured. 

If Spotlight is able to read and detect the specific text from your pictures, it will show up inside the ‘Photos From Apps’ section on the search results. 

It’s believed that the text recognition feature should be able to detect both printed and handwritten text saved on your iPhone. In our testing, the recognition was a hit or miss as Live Text was unable to detect the title of the book (Soccernomics) I captured but was able to give me results for a less visible text printed there. 

#8: Call/Message someone from Spotlight

Besides searching for things inside your pictures, the new Spotlight also lets you contact someone directly from the search results. This is possible because of new action buttons that appear when you search a contact’s name within Spotlight. 

For this, launch Spotlight and search for the name of the contact you want to connect to. When the search results appear, tap on either the Messages icon or Phone icon to text or call them on your iPhone. 

#9: Find a contact’s recent conversations, location, shared photos, and more

In addition to calling or texting them, the new Spotlight also shows you recent conversations, photos you have shared with them on Messages, files, and other items. You should be able to see all of the content that you exchanged with a contact by launching Spotlight, and searching for the contact’s name on the search bar at the top.

Additionally, if the person has shared their whereabouts on Find My with you, you’ll be able to check their location directly within Spotlight. 

#10: Find web images of animals, people, and places

The new Spotlight doesn’t just bring improved results for photos on your iPhone but also offers richer results when searching for web images on a topic. When you search for something on Spotlight, related images on the topic will appear inside the ‘Web Images’ section inside search results. 

#11: Get more info on artists, movies, TV shows, and more

Previously, searching for artists, musicians, movies, and TV shows on Spotify offered you Wikipedia pages and some more background info about the topic.

On iOS 15, searching for the same things will show you richer info like an About section, cast & crew (for movies and TV shows), trailers, social media handles, iTunes Store, news articles suggested by Siri, related searches, and links to watch the related content. 

#12: Call and get more actions for Maps results

Spotlight is also gaining action buttons that you can use to contact businesses you find on Apple Maps directly on Spotify. You can launch Spotlight on your Home Screen and search for restaurants, hotels, multiplies, and other businesses to call them directly from Spotlight or get directions to their exact location. 

Apple says businesses that support App Clips, will allow users to use parts of their app without even downloading it from the App Store.

When a business supports this feature, users will be able to use the included Action buttons inside the Spotlight search to check out the menu, order food, book a ticket, make a reservation, see availability, and more directly on Spotlight without even using any other screen. We expect app developers of these businesses to leverage this feature by the time iOS 15 rolls out to the public in a stable release. 

These are all the features that will be available for Spotlight on iOS 15. 


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