How to search for a document on iPhone

iOS and iPadOS devices have the ability to search web pages and documents, making it easy to find specific keywords on iPhone and iPad.

Apples iOS and iPadOS software have become more robust over the years to match advancements in enterprise silicon and provide the ability to search for specific keywords in documents and the web. It is similar to control and command options to search for text which is found on Windows and macOS computers respectively. The company’s mobile software has improved text browsing in recent years, and since iPhones and iPads have more processing power than some computers, it makes sense that Apple’s mobile devices have unique ways to search for text.

Both iOS and iPadOS have an adaptation of Spotlight, the on-device search engine popularized by macOS that has the power to compile local and online data into a single list. On iPhones, the search function can be accessed on the home screen, where a simple swipe down immediately reveals a search bar and a short list of apps suggested by Siri. In this search bar, the phone will provide results from the web, apps, contacts, messages, shared links, photos, files, etc. On iPadOS, Spotlight search is much closer to the macOS variant. With a keyboard attached, typing the command space triggers Spotlight, and the same search functionality is accessible while performing any task. In fact, with a keyboard connected, simply holding down the command key will show the user all the commands available in a given application.


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The iPhone has a specific ‘Find on the page‘ which searches for keywords on Safari web pages. This is accessible in different ways. First, typing a desired term into the Safari search bar on iOS will present the user with two options: they can search, deliver results across the entire web, or they can view results on the page. Choosing the latter will show the user whenever the text appears on the web page they had previously loaded. The other method is accessible through the Safari menu buttons. Clicking on the share button – the little box with an arrow pointing up – will offer you a menu with the option ‘Find on the page.’ On iPad, the process is even more familiar when a keyboard is attached: the same F command function on macOS works on iPadOS.

How to Find an Apple Notes Document

Apple iPhone Notes app

The process of finding a document or web page is not the same in all applications. In the Apple Notes app, which has received a ton of significant improvements in the latest versions of iOS and iPadOS, searching for keywords is done in a different menu. The button to trigger the menu is a circle with three dots inside it, and opening the menu will prompt the user with a host of selections, including ‘Search in note.’ Selecting these options will allow you to search for specific keywords, like on Safari. However, the Notes app supports searching for handwritten text, a huge plus for avid Apple Pencil users.

For other documents, including PDFs and word processing documents, the process is consistent. Any file, whether accessible in the Files app or a secondary app, like Messages, can be searched in the same way. Tapping on the document will reveal a few toggles, one being a magnifying glass icon. Selecting this icon will open a search bar, allowing the user to search for keywords in any document, whether text or ink. While the methods used to search for text vary from iPhone to iPhone and app to app, iOS definitely has a robust “F control and command” option commonly found on Windows and Mac.

Next: How to get an iPhone to notify you of important emails

Source: Apple

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