Spotlight Search Not Working On iPhone / iPad? Fix

Some users who updated to the latest iOS version are finding out that Spotlight Search is not working properly. More specifically, while some users are stating that a Spotlight search is not showing any results, some others are saying that search is not working as expected. As you can see below, a spotlight search attempt does not yield any results:

Spotlight lets you find apps, documents, and other files on iOS device, iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. Spotlight is especially useful if you have a lot of apps on your device.

Spotlight Search Fixes

1. Symptom: Spotlight does not show Contacts

If you experience this, simply follow these steps:

  • On your iPhone or iPad, launch/Open Contacts,
  • Tap Groups
  • Tap “Hide All Contacts” then tap “Show All Contacts”

2. Symptom: Search is not working properly

If you think that Search is not finding items, meaning it is not working correctly, try these steps:

  • Go to Settings > General > Spotlight Search
  • Turn off (deactivate) everything (search results)
  • Now turn off your device by pressing and holding the on/off button until you see the slider. Then slide the red slider.
  • Turn your device on.
  • Now go to Settings > General > Spotlight Search and now turn everything on.

3. Symptom: Blank Results

If your search is showing empty search results, try these:

  • Tap Settings > General > Language & Region > iPad Language or iPhone Language
  • Select a language (e.g.; Canada English) and tap Done. Then confirm your change by tapping Continue.
  • Now change back to your original language.

Other troubleshooting tips

You may try if your issue, still, is not fixed:

  • If there is an update, update the iOS software on your iPhone or iPad by going to Settings > General > Software Update.
  • Send yourself an email. For instance, send an email from your iPad email address to your iPad.
  • Force restart your idevice by pressing and holding the on/off and the home buttons together until you see the Apple logo.
  • Reset Location and Privacy by going to Settings > General > Reset > Location & Privacy.
  • Reset All Settings. NOTE: all your settings (Wi-Fi settings, Touch ID, Face ID, Restrictions etc…) will be gone if you do this. If you want to do it simply go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset All Settings. Note again, this will not delete any data or content, just it will reset all settings to factory defaults.

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Please note that you can change Spotlight settings by going to Settings > Siri & Search.

If nothing works, you may want to contact Apple.

Dr. Serhat Kurt worked as a Senior Technology Director. He holds a doctoral degree (or doctorate) from the University of Illinois at Urbana / Champaign and a master’s degree from Purdue University.

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25 thoughts on “Spotlight Search Not Working On iPhone / iPad? Fix”

  1. Settings > General does not include “Spotlight Search.” Is this article, dated February 2019, correct for iOS 12?

    How about Siri & Search? (I don’t see it there either.)

  2. this is the solution
    Go to Settings: General: Language
    Change your Language to English (UK)
    Force close the Settings app
    Go to Settings: General: Language again
    Change your Language back to English (US). Enjoy your Settings Search fully functional again! 🙂

  3. Hi all, I want to share my experience and how I fixed my problem with spotlight search not working on the settings menu.

    I am worried sick because the spotlight search has been very helpful in cutting time spent finding stuff (all the time), so when mine stopped working, I researched on how to fix it, I watched YouTube tutorials (but didn’t work).

    Hopeless, I tried reading articles and found this site. The first method I tried was Force Restarting my iPhone (pressing the on/off button and home button for ten seconds until the Apple logo appears). Unfortunately, it didn’t work. Then I tried the next methods, each time checking my Spotlight Search on Settings Menu.. until I used the technique where you have to send an email to yourself, it was like MAGIC, because after I received the email that I sent to myself, Voila!! the Spotlight Search option worked again. :))

    Thank God and this site! It was a tremendous help!

    • Explain sending an email to yourself please. I have multiple email apps/accounts on my phone. Can ya provide details pretty please?

    • I’m curious how many users having this issue either 1) Use the iOS mail app and don’t regularly check email. and 2) Use another email client (Airmail, Gmail, Outlook etc) and are forced use the Mail app when sending info from inside another app.

      The same issue brought me here and I’m in the #2 category. I only noticed the issue after attempting to send a link from inside Instagram by email to my wife. No option for my email client so I used email.

      After reading these posts all I did was start the Mail app and immediately went back to check spotlight search. Voila! It was back working again. Hope this helps someone.

  4. Thus article needs updated. The ‘fix’ of “Go to Settings > General > Spotlight Search” does not even apply now on IOS 12.1.4, yet I’m having the exact same problems trying to search ‘Notes’ and trying to find apps quickly. Very frustrating!!

  5. Thanks. Changing the language and then back again worked for me. I’ve been trying to fix this for days. So weird but it works.

  6. With the new updates to my iPhone 6 Plus I ha e a very slow device.
    Spotlight Search does not show location of apps in folders. So how do I move them around if I cannot locate them.

    Notes now freezes up or runs so slow no use using the app anymore.

    I can no longer load Pictures to the shoebox because it takes so long for me picture.
    Same sending I messages so slow. I hate iOS now. I’ve reset tried everything this is happening on all my devices not just one!

    • iPhone spotlight search does not work on any IOS, up to iOS 13 now. Non of the fixes work. I tried them all!! What now ??

      Thank you

  7. Pull down search function no longer works on iPhone 7 Plus after update to 11.01. Only shows Siri suggested apps. Rebooted, turned Siri on and off etc. The search function works for one or two tries after hard reset and then fails again. Very displeased especially using new hardware.


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