iOS 9 Spotlight Search image 004

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.

Full tutorial: How to use Spotlight on iOS 9 to search within third-party apps on your iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.

But how do you know that a particular search result came from a third-party app?

iOS 9 Spotlight Search image 001

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.

If you find this tutorial useful, please bookmark the article, share it with your friends on social media and send it to support folks.

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  • B.wk

    Is there anyway to remove apps from showing in the “siri suggestions” I don’t want Siri or anyone to know how often I use Vine… it’s embarrassing.

    • Fede777

      Yes, un check Siri Suggestions, inside General > Spotlight Search

      • B.w.

        well, I’d like to use it, but I don’t want it showing all my embarrassing apps when you slide to the right on the home screen. c’monnn! I can’t be the only one. some of these things are hidden in folders for a reason 😉

      • Tim

        I agree, I dont want the suggestions to show a certain app that I open all the time, how do you stop an app or all the apps from showing?

      • shane botwin

        same here. And I’m forced to turn it off now

    • VITICO


  • Fede777

    What I don’t understand about this is, some apps like Calculator, Camera, Clock, Compass, and a lot others, what do they show?

  • Tom

    Is it possible to turn it off completely? I don’t need it on my left side of screen.

  • rockdude094

    This question is totally off topic and I can’t find any answer on the net… Does iOS 9 work well on the iPad 3 compared to iOS 8 ?

    • Hunter

      From my experience, its about the same

      • rockdude094

        so totally not worth loosing a jail break over

  • TheDryChipper

    It only works if the file has been recently opened or downloaded off line….that’s not very useful.

  • David Barajas

    Nice little video (I didn’t update). As long as the developers support it it can be a very convenient feature. The way he put a name and the news app took him right to the article was impressive. Look forward to having that ability when I get my new 6s.

  • David Barajas

    I normally don’t comment on this site but since I’m here lol…Good job. I follow the site for the good info/tips/reviews. Especially the jailbreak reviews. But even features such as this which is stock.
    I don’t really follow podcasts but when I listen to some the Jailbreak Now (something like that) is the one I look for.
    Good job Jeff (for the video reviews I seen).

  • B.c

    OK what is it in settings that you can do to temporarily make apps or files or anything for that matter hidden or disabled? And what can you do to view anything that’s been hidden on the phone?