by Jim Lynch

iOS 9: Use the new Search screen

Aug 17, 2015

How to get the most out of the new Search screen in iOS 9

iOS 9 includes some important changes and one of the best is the new Search screen. It appears to the left of the Home screen, the way it used to before Apple removed it in a previous version of iOS. Apple has also gone out of its way to add value to the Search screen by adding in Siri Suggestions for Contacts, Apps, Locations and even News.

In this tip I’ll show you how to access the iOS 9 Search screen and how to get the most out of it. And I’ll even show you how to disable Siri Suggestions if you want to remove them from your Search screen. 

How to access the iOS 9 Search screen

Here’s how you can access the Search screen in iOS 9:

1. Just swipe to the right on the Home screen.

2. The Search screen will appear with a search box, and Siri Suggestions (more on them below). 

This is exactly how it used to work before Apple decided to change to a three finger swipe down on the middle of the home screen. That option is still in iOS 9 but it doesn’t offer all of the information that is available by swiping to the right.

The iOS 9 Search screen interface

ios 9 search screen

The iOS 9 Search screen offers Siri Suggestions for apps, contacts, nearby locations and even news. 

When you first open the Search screen, you’ll notice a search box right at the top. You can type in your text or dictate a search if you prefer. Under that you’ll see Siri Suggestions for Contacts, Nearby Locations, Apps and News.

While I like the default layout of the iOS 9 Search screen, I think Apple should consider offering the ability to customize it a bit in a future version of iOS. Right now there’s no way that I can see to move the stuff under the Search box around. For example, some users might want News articles to be above Contacts, Apps or Nearby Locations. But there’s no way to do that currently in iOS 9.

Overall though, I think Apple did a good job with the layout of the Search screen. So I don’t think there will be a hue and cry from users for the ability to customize it. But it would be a nice option in a future iOS release.

Siri Suggestions on the iOS 9 Search screen

One of the best things about the iOS 9 Search screen is the inclusion of Siri Suggestions. Once you pull up the Search screen, you’ll see suggestions for Contacts, Apps, Locations and News. This makes it very easy to tap on most your most accessed contacts, apps or even find restaurants, food, gas stations, etc in your area. And you can read relevant articles via the News app. 

ios 9 search screen contacts

You can send one of your favorite contacts a text message, phone call or FaceTime call from the iOS 9 Search screen. 

For example, you can tap on a contact in Siri Suggestions in the Search screen to call him or her, send a text message, make a FaceTime call or get access their contact page. This is much faster than pulling up the Messages app to send a text or opening FaceTime to make a video call.

You can tap on the Show More link at the top right of the Siri Suggestions box to see more of your Contacts or Apps listed on the Search screen in iOS 9. You can also tap on Show More to see more news stories at the bottom of the Search screen.

If you tap on Restaurants in the Nearby list, iOS will open the Maps app and also display Yelp reviews of nearby places to eat. This is makes it very quick to find local options for food, and of course it also works with gas stations, coffee and tea or fast food.

Siri Suggestions definitely add a lot of value to the iOS 9 Search screen. I’ve been very pleased with how useful they’ve been as I spend more and more time using iOS 9.

How to disable Siri Suggestions in iOS 9 Search

disable siri suggestions ios 9 search

You can disable Siri Suggestions by going to Settings, then General, then Spotlight Search. Just toggle the Siri Suggestions switch to Off.

Now I fully realize that some people might not want to see Siri Suggestions on their iOS 9 Search screen. If you’re one of them, here’s how you can quickly disable Siri Suggestions so you won’t see them on your Search screen:

1. Open the Settings app.

2. Go to General.

3. Go to Spotlight Search.

4. Tap the Siri Suggestions switch to the Off position.

If you change your mind, you can easily turn on Siri Suggestions and you’ll see them all listed again on your iOS 9 Search screen.

Thanks for the new Search screen in iOS 9, Apple

Some of the other new features in iOS 9 such as Split View multitasking, Apple Music, etc. have gotten lots more coverage than the Search screen. But I’ve actually found the new Search screen to be one of the best, most useful enhancements in iOS 9. 

I never really cared for the three fingered swipe down on the Home screen to access Search. It worked mostly okay, but occasionally I’d mess the swipe up and it irritated me. Now in iOS 9, I can just swipe to the right and get the full Search screen with the helpful Siri Suggestions.

I think Apple realized it had made a mistake by getting rid of the swipe to the right Search screen, and I’m very glad they changed their minds in iOS 9.  

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