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How to fix Spotlight Not working your iPhone/iPad

One niggling issue one might have to deal with when using an iPhone is the Spotlight Search not working.

The Spotlight Search is one very essential feature on the iPhone, it makes up a huge part of your experience with your iPhone or iPad.

Spotlight is a system-wide desktop search feature on iOS. It is a selection based search that creates an index of all files and items on the iPhone.

It is easy to fall into the habit of relying on the spotlight search for the daily usage of your iPhone.
The reasons why is pretty simple: with the Spotlight Search, you can search for anything and everything on your iPhone.
With it, you can search for your contacts, calendar entries, media content and so much more.

You can even use it to search for meanings of words if you have a dictionary installed, or get map directions from the maps app
You can also use it to make searches from your iPhone, iPad, the App Store, iTunes and any other services you’ve got installed on your device.
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All of this happens from the convenience of your Home Screen, and it’s very efficient and most importantly convenient. You can imagine how convenient it is, pulling up your Word document, and checking up a word in the dictionary, all from a single search environment; it’s that good.

This might be due to the seamless integration of iOS with the iPhone, which has then made the functionality of Spotlight shine even brighter. When compared with Android devices, it’s markedly better, for the same reasons; Android just can’t attain that level of cohesion, due to fragmentation, and the heterogeneity of OEMs.

However, there are times when the Spotlight feature stops working as it should, and that can be really annoying.

Other than the fact that you get caught off from the normal workflow you’ve built around the feature, it’s also doesn’t sit well with anyone to know that there’s a part of the iPhone that has suddenly decided to stop working.

The reasons for Spotlight Feature to stop working are numerous, and some of it aren’t even you, the user’s fault.
You might be using an older iPhone, in which case, the Spotlight feature is having a harder time keeping up as the software releases keep increasing, and the processing power keeps dropping.

Changing the iPhone to a newer one solves this, but then a lot of users have a lot more peculiar issues with the Spotlight Feature.

Another issue that might be bugging you Spotlight Feature is the fact that the Spotlight Feature might be needing to re-index your contents.

This usually happens when you’ve just completed an upgrade of the OS.
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This is usually after a system upgrade, and it might take a couple of days for its operations to return back to normal.

Generally, if you happen to have the Spotlight Search feature give up on you, for any other reason other than the aforementioned two, you’re not really alone; many users have reported similar issues related to their Spotlight feature.

For some, it stops showing search results whenever you input a search. That is due to a certain bug that, thankfully, can be fixed easily.

There are steps of fixes for this kind of Spotlight Search issue, and they shall be listed out shortly.
We start from the easier one, and you proceed to the next one if the previous one didn’t work out.

Method #1

The first method requires more minimum effort in the bid to fix the Spotlight Search problem.
First, open up the Settings app, when that’s done, find Siri & Search and then tap on it. Once that’s done, you’d see a list of apps that use the Siri & Search.

Tap on any of those apps that you see; you’d find separate switches which say “Show in Search”, “Suggest shortcuts” and “Show Siri Suggestions”.

Turn off those switches and then turn it back on. Return to your Home screen, and then swipe down from your home screen.

If all goes well, then the Spotlight Search starts to work properly again. However, if the problem still persists, you can try out other methods, but keep in mind that there’s no guarantee that they would be the whole solution to the issue.

Method #2

The second method still involves your Settings. Open the Settings app, tap on the General menu.

You’d find Language & Region, tap on it, and then select your preferred language and effect that change.
Upon returning to the home screen, you should have the spotlight working as it should again.

Typically, the two aforementioned methods should be able to fix your Spotlight issue.

However, it is not guaranteed by anyone that either or both methods would be a complete solution to your Spotlight issue.

It would be unfortunate to have your Spotlight still not working at this point, but thankfully, you don’t have to stop there.

There are other, slightly radical steps you can take to try to fix the issue, but then at this point, whatever steps you take, the chances of success are slightly lower; But it’s worth a try.

You can restart the phone. Press and hold the Sleep/Wake button and slide out the Power Off on your iPhone; Wait for like 30 seconds before powering it back on.

Typically, this is one of the very first steps the user is most likely to take once he/she discovers the Spotlight issue on his iPhone.

So, if after performing all the aforementioned steps to fixing the issue, a simple restart has a very slim chance of fixing the issue.

But it’s okay to try it, you really never can tell what happens for sure.
It might also be that your Shortcut Widgets on the Home Screen are interfering with the operations of the Spotlight.
In fact, that has been the case for a number of users, so, it’s a fairly common solution.

On your iPhone’s Home Screen, swipe to your right to view the page where all your widgets live; scroll to the bottom of that page to find the Edit Button.

You remove the Shortcuts using that button, and hopefully, your iPhone’s Spotlight comes back to normal.

Now comes the “Big Gun”. If at this point the Spotlight issue persists, maybe it’s time to Erase and Restore your iPhone using a computer.

It sounds grim, but it is perhaps the only solution that has a close to a 100% success rate in fixing your Spotlight issue.

This is because you would be reinstalling the software using a computer that has the backup of the software (Use a computer, otherwise, you run the risk of not allowing the software to reinstall properly).
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Of course, it is always recommended (short of compulsory) that you backup your files and every other thing on your iPhone before embarking on the Erase and Reinstall operation. You can skip back up if you’ve already been doing it regularly, or you plan to sell the iPhone very soon.

Connect your iPhone to the computer, and then open up the iTunes or Finder app on the computer.

Select Back Up Now and then put the iPhone into Recovery Mode. To do this, press the Volume up button, and then the Volume down button; note that every time you press each button, you release after a short while.

Finally, you press and hold the Side button; hold onto it until you see you’re in the Recovery Mode screen (which is characterized by the icons suggesting that you connect the iPhone to a computer).

If it’s an older iPhone you’re using, you press and hold the side button and the volume down button simultaneously; you release the buttons when you get to the Recovery Mode screen.

If it’s an even older iPhone (iPhone 6S or below), you press and hold the home button and the side button simultaneously.

For iPads, you follow the same procedure as for the iPhones, depending on how recent the model of the iPad is.
Then you select Restore Backup in the Finder or iTunes app on the Computer.

It takes a little while to get the whole software to reinstall, but when it does finish, you get your iPhone up and running, and most likely with the Spotlight Search working again.

This is the final step to take in the bid to fix the Spotlight Search not working all by yourself, and on the off chance that the issue persists, then the situation is beyond you.

As seldom as it might be, the issue could be caused by something a little deeper, such as a hardware defect. It would take technical hands to look into it if it is at that point.

Halt trying to fix it yourself and hand in the iPhone to a Service Centre; they would (at least, you can be sure that they should be able to) come up with a comprehensive diagnostics as to why you face such issue with your Spotlight Search.

Spotlight Search Not Working FAQs

Q: How do you fix Spotlight Search Not Working?
A: There are a number of ways to fix that issue; you try out the steps as I have explained in the post above.
Q: Does iPhone 7 have Spotlight Search?
A: Absolutely.
Q: How do I Change Spotlight Search on my iPhone?
A: Unless it has got issues, you really can’t change the Spotlight Search.
Q: Where is the Spotlight Search on my iPhone?
A: You swipe down from the home screen to access the Spotlight Search.
Q: How do I enable Spotlight Search?
A: You can’t, you can only adjust the number of apps it indexes.

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Michelle Paulsen

Michelle, a former author for renowned tech publications TechCrunch and The Verge, has established herself as a prominent figure in technology journalism. With her deep industry knowledge and experience, she excels at breaking down complex tech topics into engaging, reader-friendly articles. Known for her sharp analysis and compelling storytelling, Michelle has a proven track record of enlightening readers about the latest tech trends and innovations.

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