I've just upgraded to iOS 9, and the new Spotlight search isn't finding contacts for me - it sometimes finds contacts, but not the one I'm searching for.

I've turned off every app in Spotlight search, except Contacts, so as not to muddy the waters.

Example: I have a contact named "Fred Jones". He's the only contact with the surname Jones. I swipe down or right to get the spotlight search, and start typing jones one character at a time. When I type "j" I get

Jane Airy
Abbadab Fabrics
Dan Anderson

When I type the "o" I get


I.e. no search results.

Both Abbadab Fabrics and Dan Anderson do have a "j" somewhere in some field - but so do lots of other contacts.

I've tried typing "Jo" but same results. Obviously, this used to work in ios8.

Further details in response to questions: I'm on the released iOS 9 build (13A344), not any developer or other pre-release. I only have one account syncing Contacts - Google Sync. There's plenty of storage available: 11.0GB out of 15.2GB.

  • 1
    No answer here, as I am having the SAME problem. Since upgrading yesterday to IOS 9 spotlight stops searching contacts, 100%. It's set to "on" in settings/general/spotlight search.
    – user147247
    Commented Sep 17, 2015 at 21:43
  • 1
    Several things come to mind. 1) How much free space is on the device 2) How many contacts sync are present in internet accounts? 3) what build of iOS 9 are you running?
    – bmike
    Commented Sep 17, 2015 at 21:46
  • Same issue. @bmike 1) 13 GB 2) Not sure what you mean here 3) 13A344 Commented Sep 23, 2015 at 9:02
  • All - 2) is the count of data sources. I for instance have three iCloud accounts that sync contacts. Some people only get contacts from the USB / iTunes connection. Basically, I'm wondering how long to wait for the indexing to finish and what percentage of the "contacts" are actually local to the device.
    – bmike
    Commented Oct 20, 2015 at 13:46

2 Answers 2


I tried two fixes, and this one seemed to work after playing around with it for a while:

Fix #1 (didn't seem to work, but may have helped)

  1. Turn off all the Spotlight switches in Preferences > General > Spotlight.
  2. Do a hard reset by pressing and holding the Home button (big circle below the screen) and the Sleep/Wake button (on top of the iPhone) simultaneously.
  3. Hold both buttons until the screen goes black, and then release when you see the Apple logo.
  4. After restart, turn on the Contacts switch in Preferences > General > Spotlight.
  5. It may take a few minutes, or half an hour for Contacts to show in Spotlight search.
  6. Turn on other Spotlight switches after Contacts begin to show in Spotlight searches.

Fix #2

  1. Open the Contacts app, tap your own contact... Then Groups will display in top left. Tap Groups in the top-left corner, then Hide All Contacts or show all contacts. One of them may default. Tapping just toggles back and forth between the 2 options. The IOS 9 update may have defaulted your option to Hide All which may be the only issue.

  2. Tap Show All Contacts.

This didn't immediately work for me, but then I tried only showing iCloud contacts, and not Facebook contacts, and then it started to work. However - I noticed some contacts starting to appear after a search, which is when I tried this in the last sentence. It may very well have been the first fix that solved this, and it was just a matter of waiting for it to work.

Try both, and also showing different contacts groups, then quitting the contacts app, then hiding and showing again.

  • 1
    In fix #2, step 1 - is that the Contacts app? I don't see "Groups" when I open the contacts app. Nor do I see "Groups" in the contacts settings anywhere. Commented Sep 23, 2015 at 10:29
  • @RandyOrrison yes. It is in the top-left corner. See this example. If you can't see that, perhaps it does not show if you do not have any groups. Commented Sep 23, 2015 at 11:00
  • 1
    Fix #1 appears to have worked for me - contacts are now appearing in Spotlight search. Commented Sep 23, 2015 at 11:00
  • In the top left corner I have a refresh/reload circular arrow. Commented Sep 23, 2015 at 11:01
  • @RandyOrrison glad it worked. Interesting that you don't have groups! This iOS6 video shows one method of how to do it, if you really wanted to. I think mine were auto-added when I integrated Facebook, and iCould, as they are the only groups on mine. Commented Sep 23, 2015 at 11:12

The spotlight process that indexes space on iOS needs several things to run:

  • space to write the results to storage
  • time to index all the content after a change/upgrade

If you have let the phone run for several hours and have checked for more than 1 GB of free space, there might be some other corruption that are breaking things.

At that point:

  1. Make a back up of the phone (perhaps two backups one to iCloud and another to iTunes)
  2. Power cycle the device
  3. Verify the storage isn't leaving less than 1 GB of free space
  4. Turn off wifi network and bluetooth using AirPlane mode (which minimizes changes to let the index process run to completion)
  5. Power cycle the device while in AirPlane mode.
  6. Wait another 30 minutes for search to process to get caught up
  7. Retore the phone
  8. Test with only contacts and not restoring the backup

At this point, you would likely need Apple Support to triage why a cleanly restored phone with only contacts on it still isn't having spotlight work. Most likely, you will have removed the likely cause of software corruption or free space issues during the restore.

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