Fix Spotlight Search on iOS 11 Not Finding Contacts or Apps Issue

You started searching for an app on Spotlight. As usual, you typed in the first few letters, expecting Spotlight to bring up the app in its suggestions. But … nothing shows up. Ouch!

If this happens, then the Spotlight app is broken on your iPhone or iPad, and you actually need to enter the entire name of an app for it to come up in the search suggestion. But, in some instances, even that doesn’t work. It’s infuriating, but let’s take a look as to why this happens in the first place.

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On iOS 11, Spotlight sports the ability to scan within apps. It’s actually a useful feature that suggests additional related details like matching emails, documents, maps, etc. However, this added functionality tends to glitch out the apps themselves from appearing within the suggestions.

That's not all. If you upgraded to iOS 11 from an older version of iOS, there’s also a chance for contacts to not show up in Spotlight suggestions as well. This happens due to an issue with search indexing.

So, let’s see what you can do to put your apps and contacts back in the spotlight.

Fix: Spotlight Search Not Finding Apps

Note: The following fix requires iOS 11.2 or later. On the Settings screen, tap General, and then tap Software Update to check for available updates.

The additional functionality of the Spotlight search on iOS 11 is a prime reason for apps to not show up properly in the suggestions. Usually, turning this feature off should fix the issue. 

But, this also disables the various app-related suggestions that you received earlier. If you don’t want that to happen, you may have to resort to resetting the settings of your iPhone or iPad. Scroll down below to learn how to do that.

Step 1: Go to the Settings screen and tap Siri and Search. You should now see a list of all the apps installed on your iPhone or iPad.

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Step 2: Tap on an app, and switch Search and Siri Suggestions off. Once you do that, you should see another option labeled Show App pop up underneath. Make sure that it’s switched on.

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Repeat the process for each and every app that you want to show up within Spotlight. Unfortunately, there’s no way to perform this action for all the apps at once. So, it may take quite a while.

Important: Do not turn Search and Siri Suggestions off for the Contacts app since that disables suggested contacts within Spotlight. This shouldn’t be a problem as you only need individual contacts within the app to show up, and not the app itself.

Now, start typing in the first few words of an app in Spotlight and things should function normally, albeit without the additional suggestions.

Fix: Spotlight Search Not Finding Contacts

A corrupt Contacts search index may prevent your contacts from showing up in Spotlight suggestions. To fix this, you need to back up, delete and re-sync the contacts on your iPhone or iPad.

However, the iOS Contacts app doesn’t make bulk deletions of contacts possible. Unless you want to spend ages trying to manually delete dozens of contacts, let's use a free app called Groups to do that instead.

Be warned, however. Groups could be the most aesthetically unpleasant app that you may have come across as of yet but it gets the job done fast.

Note: For additional safety, you may want to use an app such as My Contacts Backup to make a backup of your contacts.

How to Back Up Contacts

Let’s begin by backing up your Contacts to iCloud.

Step 1: Head over to the Settings screen, tap Contacts and then tap Default Account.

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Step 2: Ensure that your default account is set to iCloud. Otherwise, your contacts won't sync properly to iCloud.

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Step 3: Now, head over to Settings, tap your name and then tap iCloud.

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Step 4: Make sure that the switch next to Contacts is turned on. Now, tap iCloud Backup.

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Step 5: Tap Back Up Now to create a fresh backup of your device to iCloud. Doing this ensures that your contacts are backed up properly. The whole process may take about 2-5 minutes.

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Step 6: Once the backup process finishes, go back and switch off Contacts syncing.

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Step 7: When prompted, tap Keep on iPad.

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How to Delete Contacts

Now, let's use the Groups app to instantly delete the contacts of your iPhone or iPad.

Step 1: Launch Groups, and tap Select All.

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Step 2: Tap Choose Action.

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Step 3: On the pop-up menu, select Delete Contacts.

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Step 4: Tap Remove From My iPhone! to delete your contacts.

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How to Re-sync Contacts

Step 1: Now, turn Contacts syncing on via the Settings screen.

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Step 2: When prompted, tap Merge.

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Your contacts in iCloud should now sync with the Contacts app. Hopefully, that should re-index the contacts within Spotlight and pave the way for suggested contacts to work as usual.

Common Fix: Reset iOS 11 Settings

If disabling Siri and Search Suggestions or re-syncing the contacts didn’t work to fix the Spotlight issue, you should reset the settings of your device. 

Don't worry! Your data is safe. However, you may have to manually re-configure any settings within iOS 11 that was modified during normal usage.

Note: While a settings reset has no impact on data, it's always a good idea to back up your device just in case something goes wrong. On the Settings screen, tap your name, tap iCloud, tap iCloud Backup, and then tap Back Up Now to initiate a backup.

Step 1: To reset your device, head over to the General tab on the Settings screen and tap Reset.

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Step 2: Tap Reset All Settings.

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Step 3: When prompted, enter your passcode to proceed.

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Step 4: Tap Reset to confirm.

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After the reset, both your apps and contacts should work normally within the Spotlight searches. However, keep this fix as a last resort since it's not fun having to work with an iPad or iPhone on default settings.

You Should Be Good Now

Hopefully, you should now have fixed your buggy Spotlight searches and apps and contacts are now showing up properly.

While these fixes are a major headache to go through, getting your Spotlight searches back on track saves a ton of time, which is otherwise spent on manually scanning for apps and contacts.

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Apple should really get their act together and provide a permanent solution to this issue. The more people complain, the sooner they'll fix this, so make sure to let Apple know.

So, how did it go? Know of any other fixes? Drop in a comment below and let us know.

Also See
#contacts #iOS 11

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Dilum Senevirathne has written about tech and finance for over five years. When he isn’t messing around with the latest iOS apps, you can catch him tweaking a collection of IoT gadgets. Dilum is a management accounting student and a prospective charterholder.