How to quickly search settings in iOS


The iOS Settings app is more like a chaotic junk drawer that a
neatly-organized filing cabinet. Back when the iPhone launched,
it was tidy, with only a few items, all methodically arranged.
Then, as more and more features were added to iOS, their
settings were tossed in there like you toss spare keys into
that kitchen drawer with the rubber bands and spare fuses.
Unlike a real junk drawer, though, which will slice your
fingers with hidden tools and pieces of broken teacup if you
rummage too hard, the Settings app has a way to ignore the
detritus and get straight to the setting you want: Search
settings. This feature is essential, but very few of the folks
I asked about it this week even knew it existed. This how-to is
for them, and for anyone else who hates changing settings.

Searching makes everything easier to find, from oft-accessed settings, to little-used ones.Searching makes everything easier to
find, from oft-accessed settings, to little-used ones.
Photo: Cult of Mac

To use
Settings search, just launch the Settings app and swipe down.
That’s it! The previously-hidden search field is now ready for
your queries. Type in the name of the settings screen you want,
or the feature you want to tweak, and when the correct result
shows up in the list, just tap it to go right to that screen.
This is a timesaver for oft-used settings, but is really most
useful for those settings you change so seldom that you can’t
remember where they were hidden. And if you tap the wrong
search result, your search remains persistent. Just hit the
back arrow at the top left of the screen until you arrive back
at the main settings page, where you’ll find the search box
still populated with whatever you typed in there.

It works for third-party apps too

As you can see from my screenshots,
Settings Search works not only for the built-in Apple settings,
like iCloud, Mail, Accessibility and so on, but also for the
settings that third-party apps put inside the Settings app. If
your search includes results from apps you have installed your
device, then they’ll show up in the list, and be directly
accessible with a tap.

you might be surprised by what you find. It used to be that
many apps put their settings in the Settings app, but as nobody
ever looks outside the app itself when they want to tweak
setting, those settings went unset, as it were. But there are
still quite a few hiding in here, so you might like to poke
around, just to see if there’s a neat setting for your favorite
app that you never knew about.

It works on the Mac too

search works on the Mac too, but is more obvious thanks to the
always-visible search field, and the fact that the text cursor
is already right there in search box, so you can type as soon
as you launch the macOS System Preferences app.

Search in settings also works on the Mac.Search in settings also works on the Mac.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Speaking of
keyboards, the iOS Settings app has zero keyboard shortcuts for
folks with a hardware keyboard attached. Zero. Even pressing
and holding the ⌘ key, which brings up an overlay showing what
keyboard shortcuts are available even when you’re on the Home screen,
doesn’t do anything. If you’re a user who likes to keep their
hands on the keyboard, then, you’re out of luck. This seems
particularly short-sighted, as keyboard users tend to also be
power users, and therefore more likely to be regular tweakers
of settings.

Search is everywhere on iOS these days, but still not unified.
You don’t see your settings in the regular Spotlight search,
for example, which would be an even quicker way of accessing
settings. One day this may happen, but until then, this tip
will keep us going.


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