macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

Apple in iOS 15 is making several improvements to Spotlight, aka the universal search feature that can be accessed on the iPhone or iPad's Home Screen with a downward swipe.


Spotlight is a one-stop resource for accessing everything you might want to find on an iOS device, and in iOS 15, it's better than ever. This guide highlights all of the new features that are coming to Spotlight with Apple's latest update.

Rich Search Results

Apple's Siri knowledge database has been expanded and the Spotlight feature now supports rich search results, so you can get more information than before directly from the Spotlight interface.


If you search for a movie or a TV show, for example, and then tap on the result, you'll see information like how you can watch the show, the actors, trailers, seasons, links to the TV app, Messages discussions you've had about the content, Siri suggested search results, and more.

With iOS 14, a search such as this brings up a much more limited range of information, typically limited to a web search.


Rich search results work for all kinds of search topics, including contacts, actors, musicians, movies, and TV shows. With contacts, it will bring up a full contact card with Message interactions, shared links, Wallet transactions, Find My location, photos from apps, and emails in addition to the standard contact info, making the Spotlight search much more informative.

Web Images Search

Spotlight can be used to search for images on the web. So, for example, if you type "cat images" into the Spotlight search interface, Spotlight will now provide a selection of the most popular web images.


Tapping into an image will show you additional images related to the image you tapped, and you can continue tapping through images to find just what you're looking for.


The web images search feature can be used to find pictures of people, animals, plants, landmarks, monuments, and more. It doesn't work for every search, but for most topics, just adding an "images" to the search is a quick way to bring up image web results.


Photos Search

In addition to searching the web for images, Spotlight can also now look for specific pictures in your own photo library. When you search for "cat photos" or "dog photos," for example, Spotlight surfaces the photos that are stored on your device in the "Photos From Apps" section.


If you tap into a search, you can see additional search results, and there's also an option to open up the Photos app to see all the photos that are relevant to the search.

You can search through your Photo Library in Spotlight by location, people, scenes, and specific objects that are in the photos like a pet or a plant.

Photos that were shared with you through the Messages app can be found in Spotlight by using a contact name in the search.

Lock Screen Spotlight Search

If you swipe downward on the Lock Screen of the iPhone, you can get to the Spotlight search interface without having to unlock the iPhone.


A Spotlight search conducted while the iPhone is locked does not bring up personal information like your own photos, text messages, and contacts, focusing instead on general content from the web, Siri Knowledge, News, Stocks, dictionary, and more.

All personalized results only come up when the iPhone is unlocked, so if someone gets ahold of your iPhone, they can use it for search purposes but will not be able to see your info.

Install Apps

App Store searches have been improved in iOS 15, and if you search for an app that you want to use, you can now install it right from Spotlight without leaving the Spotlight search interface.


Delete Apps

In addition to installing apps using Spotlight, you can also search for an app that you have installed and uninstall it right from the search interface.


To delete an app, conduct a search and then long press on the result to bring up the delete interface.

Drag Apps From Spotlight to Home Screen

If you search for an app using Spotlight, you can grab it with a long press and drag it out of search and onto your Home Screen, which can be a useful way to rearrange apps.

You'll need to do a press, hold, and drag gesture with one finger while using another to swipe up to the Home Screen with the other, exiting the Spotlight search. From there, you can drag the app icon to any of your app pages.

Maps Spotlight Search Improvements

If you search for a business that supports Apple's App Clips feature, you can see action buttons on the Maps result in Spotlight. You can do things like access menus or tickets, see reservations, make an appointment, order takeout or delivery, see waitlist and showtime information, get parking details, and more.


Spotlight Search Warnings

As part of a suite of Child Safety features, Apple is expanding guidance for Siri and Spotlight that will offer resources to help children stay safe online and get help with unsafe situations.

If a user searches for topics related to Child Sexual Abuse Material, for example, Apple will offer interventions that will explain to users that interest in this topic is harmful and problematic, offering resources on ways to get help.

Guide Feedback

Have questions about the new Spotlight features in iOS 15, know of a feature we left out, or want to offer feedback on this guide? Send us an email here.

Article Link: iOS 15 Spotlight Improvements: Rich Results, Web Images, Photos Search, Lock Screen Access and More
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now i see it

macrumors 604
Jan 2, 2002
We've come to the point where "Search" is a dirty word to be afraid of.
Has there ever been so much animosity towards a new OS as there is for iSpy iOS 15 Surveillance?
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macrumors member
Sep 4, 2018
For me , latest developer beta disabled the Live Text and the ability for my phone to search text in photos.


macrumors demi-god
Sep 13, 2014
Hopefully the internet searching capabilities are toggleable because I don't want to be searching for something on my device meanwhile the search term is being sent out to Spotlight's internet sources.


macrumors demi-god
Sep 13, 2014

"no matter how unlikely"
  1. Apple have already ignored their "privacy principles" when the FBI asked them not to encrypt iCloud backups, so the "Apple will resist government requests to expand the tech!" excuse has already been invalidated (not to mention Apple handing over Chinese customers' iCloud encryption keys to the CCP)
  2. The EU are already in the process of passing laws to mandate a similar method of content scanning that Apple voluntarily created in the US despite no legal requirement to do so
  3. The CCP already scan people's online materials to look for content that "promotes distrust in the government"
  4. The US have been pushing for 'encryption backdoors' for years, methods discussed include scanning content before and after it gets sent over an encrypted channel; i.e the "you can have privacy but only when you're talking about something we don't care about" approach.
  5. Existing surveillance tech in the US has already been abused to subjugate journalists, climate activists, and technologists -- all categories of people that have nothing to do with the "terrorism" farce used to justify those technologies in the first place.
You can joke about "anything could happen" as much as you want but nobody is talking about "anything could happen" like when people talk about microchips in vaccines or the water turning us gay, instead they're saying "look what already happens and has been happening for decades. Look what policies are being pushed globally RIGHT NOW." This is not some far off future conspiracy theory being talked about, this is reality.

The powers that be have already declared their intentions, they have already started their march forward into stripping away more and more of your rights because the population at large represent a threat to the status quo. Don't believe me? Go spend 10 minutes reading about the militarization of the police and ask yourself why they're buying up tanks for domestic police departments. People smarter than you are pointing and screaming about these subjects but people like you prefer to live in denial and pretend nothing's happening because you can't be bothered to face reality. People that mock serious issues such as this are the reason why they get away with it.

Shame on you, go educate yourself and stop the tiresome gimmick of making fun of things you don't understand.
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macrumors demi-god
May 4, 2016
When will we be able to tag photos with something simple like, "spouse", "cat", "dog", "neighbor laying out by pool"... etc

I wonder how many hours the population of the world has spent in total searching for photos to show people something/whatever. It must be in the millions. I recently spent 10 minutes hunting for a photo and by the time I had found it, the person I was talking to had left the party and I couldn't find anyone who was interested in looking at it, since there was no context.

BTW, the privacy paranoia on this forum is outrageous. Holy Toledo. No one cares.


macrumors 601
May 14, 2012
Can’t wait to see the adoption rate for iOS 15 on existing devices and not new iPhones. :rolleyes:


macrumors 68040
Aug 20, 2015
When will we be able to tag photos with something simple like, "spouse", "cat", "dog", "neighbor laying out by pool"... etc
You can do this now. On iOS, open up Photos, view a single photo and swipe up on it. A little caption box will appear. Whatever you type there will be searchable later. Done.

If you're looking to tag people, though, Photos will do that quite well automatically (and has been getting better at it over time) if you take the time to train it. Mine now recognizes my family very reliably and new photos of them tend to get automatically tagged with a decent success rate -- and manually adding a few it misses puts it back on track pretty quickly.
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macrumors 601
Feb 22, 2020
If a user searches for topics related to Child Sexual Abuse Material, for example, Apple will offer interventions that will explain to users that interest in this topic is harmful and problematic, offering resources on ways to get help.
Wait wait. Is the filter built in to iOS, or will it be filtered on server side (eg. google search)?

If this is on iOS/client side, this is new. So Apple put an unknown filter to trigger on your own searches right on your iPhone. Will Apple at least let users know what keywords being filtered?

My country censored our internet at the ISP level, but at least they actually published which domains being filtered and the texts is publicly available. Apple is doing something similar on a search level, but will they disclose the filtered keywords? And people, don’t you think it’s odd to have a self censored search on your device?
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macrumors 65816
Aug 26, 2009
Spotlight is nice, but there needs to be more granular control over the files app. Some apps integrate with the Files all even if you don’t want them too, and so do any files in those apps. If you have any files in any folder in the Files app you want excluded from spotlight, the only option is turn off the whole files app in the spotlight settings.


macrumors 6502a
Feb 4, 2016
At a café near you
I don't want any of this stuff, I just want text inside files / PFDs to be better and more flexible.

Dear Apple: I know how to use a web browser, don't turn spotlight into a web browser


macrumors 65816
Jun 22, 2011
On iOS15 beta—>swipe down on home screen—>tap spotlight search—>enter “cat photos”—>experience pure bliss



macrumors newbie
Aug 14, 2021
None of the new features work for me for no reason. Visual Look Up can't recognize anything, the actual Look Up itself doesn't bring up Wikipedia results, and worse than anything, the new spotlight doesn't work for me
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