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How to open apps, websites and shortcuts from searching on iPhone and iPad

iPhone users who use Spotlight to search for websites, apps and shortcuts
Khamosh pathak

If you do not use the search function on your iPhone or iPad, you will miss out. Instead of using the home screen to launch apps or Safari to open web pages, you can try using the universal feature for a much faster experience.

Spotlight Search has always been a fast way to launch apps on iPhone and iPad, but if you run iOS 1

4 or iPadOS 14 and higher, you can do it even faster. The feature is called Spotlight Search on iPhone and Universal Search on iPad. But for this guide, we will refer to it as the search function.

Find apps using search

Swipe down on your iPhone or iPad home screen to access the search feature.

Swipe down to open the search

Now you just need to start typing in the search field.

Click the Search bar to search

Enter the first letters of the app you want to open. The search will automatically fill in the rest. It will also highlight the app icon.

Autocomplete selection of app on iPhone

Now you just need to press the “Go” button on the keyboard of your iPhone or iPad. If you are using an iPad with an external keyboard, press the “Enter” key.

Press the Go key from the keyboard

That means you never have to take your hand off the keyboard to launch apps on your iPhone or iPad.

Use Search to visit websites

The new Spotlight Search and Universal Search features also come with Apple’s own web search engine. You can now search for anything on the web and you can also see web results in the search field. Clicking on a web result opens the page directly in Safari (bypassing Google search).

But what’s even better is that you can access specific websites using Search. In the past, the fastest way to open a website was with Safari’s context menu. You would press and hold the Safari app icon, select New tab, enter the URL and then press the “Go” button.

As long as you have visited the site once before, simply drag down the home screen to open Search and enter the site’s URL. After a few characters, the search function will automatically fill in the website URL and you will see the name of the website.

Search that shows autofilled website

All you have to do is press the “Go” button on your keyboard to open the Safari website.

Press the Go key from the keyboard

Open search shortcuts

You can also search and launch shortcuts directly from Search. If a shortcut needs any input from you, it will put a popup right in the search view instead of opening the shortcuts app. Background shortcuts will now work without an interface.

Drag down the home screen and enter the shortcut. The shortcut is marked at the top. Unlike apps, you can not start shortcuts by pressing the Go button. Instead, tap the shortcut from the search results.

Press shortcut to open it

There are many minor features on the iPhone and iPad that are hidden. Here are the 10 hidden gestures and shortcuts on the iPhone that you should know about.

RELATED: 10 hidden gestures and shortcuts on iPhone

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