iOS 17: How to Search Your Videos Using Spotlight

What to know

  • Spotlight in iOS 17 now allows you to search your videos for specific content. You can search for objects, people, pets, scenes, and activities that were part of the video you’re trying to locate. 
  • To search for videos with specific content, tap on the Search button at the bottom of the home screen > use keywords to describe content inside the video > find videos inside the Photos section from the search results. 
  • Follow the guide with screenshots below to learn more. 

Video search on Spotlight: What is it?

iOS 17 adds new features to Spotlight on your iPhone, one of which is the ability to search for objects, scenes, people, and activities in your videos you’ve captured or saved on your iPhone. While Spotlight in previous iOS versions was equipped to help you search for objects, places, scenes, and texts inside photos on your iPhone, this new feature expands the search function’s ability to look for content inside videos as well.

In addition to helping you find videos with the element you search, Spotlight offers a different Photos app-like interface when you tap on a video from the search results. When you open a video from the search results, the video will start playing from the portion of the clip where the searched object, people, scene, or activity is present. 

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How to search within videos using Spotlight in iOS 17

To search for items inside videos on your iPhone with Spotlight, you need to first access the Spotlight Search in iOS 17. To trigger Spotlight, tap on the Search button at the bottom of the Home Screen or swipe downwards from the center of the Home Screen. 

This will open the Spotlight Search screen where you’ll see a search bar above your keyboard.

Inside this search bar, type what you’re looking for inside a video to search for it. You can search for objects, people, scenes, and activities by typing the descriptive words for them inside the search bar. 

Note: To streamline the search result to only show videos of the searched content, you can type “<content> video“. This may not always be able to yield your desired results but in most cases may help you find videos of your searched content instead of just photos. 

When the search results appear, scroll down on the screen until you find the Photos section. Inside Photos, you’ll see photos and videos showing the content you searched for. If the video you’re looking for is visible inside this section, tap on the video thumbnail to open it. 

A scrubber interface will now open on the next screen showing the video in full screen. This video will start playing from the portion where the searched item or activity is visible.

If you wish to open this video inside the Photos app on your iPhone, tap on the Photos icon at the bottom right corner. You can also directly share this video from this interface by tapping on the Share icon at the bottom left corner and choosing an app/contact to send it to from the subsequent menu. 

To get back to the Spotlight search results, tap on the Back arrow at the top left corner. You’ll then be able to see the original search results to check out other videos that your iPhone was able to look for your searched content. 

Spotlight Search only shows a handful of photos and videos inside the search results. If you can’t find the video you’re looking for, you can tap on Search in App in the Photos section inside Spotlight to look for your searched content directly within the Photos app. 

Doing so will open the Photos app on your iPhone where the searched content will be visible. Here, you can tap on See All to look for the video you were searching for. 

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Spotlight Video search not working. How to fix it?

If Spotlight Search cannot look for video or any content from the Photos app, it’s possible that it hasn’t been granted permission to access the Photos library on your iPhone. To fix this problem, you need to allow Spotlight to learn and gather data from the Photos app inside iOS settings. 

For this, open the Settings app on your iPhone. 

Inside Settings, scroll down and select Siri & Search

On the next screen, scroll down and tap on Photos

On the Photos screen that shows up, turn on the Lean from this App toggle at the top. 

To make sure videos appear inside the search results on Spotlight, make sure all the toggles adjacent to these options under “While Searching” are enabled – Show App in Search and Show Content in Search.

You can now go back to your home screen and check for yourself whether you’re now able to search for videos from within Spotlight. 

That’s all you need to know about searching for videos inside Spotlight in iOS 17. 


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