iOS 9 sports an easily overlooked yet significant enhancement to Spotlight, permitting you to search and discover content buried deep within the apps on your device right from Spotlight’s search field on
the Home screen.
This was made possible because the iOS 9 SDK gives developers the tools to expose content stored inside their apps to the operating system in order to make it searchable and linkable within Spotlight.
But as you install apps from the App Store that support Spotlight, they get automatically added to Spotlight, whether you like it or not.
And with too many apps feeding their content to Spotlight, the feature shows the tendency to run slower than usual due to indexing. Of course, not each and every app needs to be searched this way.
In fact, it might be prudent to turn off ones that pollute your search results and make Spotlight run slower than usual. In this tutorial, we’re going to explain how you can selectively exclude content from specific apps from surfacing in Spotlight search results.
How to exclude apps from Spotlight Search
Step 1: Open the Settings app on your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad with iOS 9 or later.
Step 2: Now navigate to the General > Spotlight Search section.
Step 3: Finally, toggle off the apps whose content you want to exclude from Spotlight Search. And should you want to include an app in Spotlight’s search results, just flip its switch to the ON position.
Tip: While disabling an app prevents its content from appearing in Spotlight, you can still ask Siri to open it or use Spotlight Search to locate the app by typing the first few letters of its name.
More on enhanced Spotlight Search on iOS 9
Prior iOS releases limited Spotlight’s scope to online sources and Apple’s own stock apps. For example, with older version of iOS you could search for contents within the Notes app, but couldn’t do so for third-party note apps.
It gets even better because Spotlight Search works with deep linking, another new platform technology in iOS 9. In short, deep linking takes you directly to the app in question upon tapping on its Spotlight search result.
If you don’t see the embedded video, watch it on YouTube.
As demonstrated in Jeff’s video seen above, the app will even load linked content. As a bonus, you can easily get back to where you came from (Spotlight Search) by tapping iOS 9’s new “Back to” button in the upper left corner of the screen.
But how do you know that a particular search result came from a third-party app?
As shown below, while results from apps look just like any other Spotlight item, the name of the app that’s presenting the result is included in the upper left-hand corner of the result, making it easy to distinguish the original content source.
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- Apple’s iOS Feature Availability webpage
- Our archive of iPhone, iPod touch and iPad tips
- Our archive of iOS 9 tutorials
- Our archive of Mac tutorials
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