I would like to know if there is any way to disable Spotlight Search, even when an user goes to Settings -> Spotlight Search, and change the options there.

That's mainly because anyone could still search in Spotlight only by going to Settings -> Spotlight and enabling the search on the web. I do know that you can set it so you can apply filters, but they are not successfull at what I need. (Yes, I know also that Safari can be restricted under "Restrictions", but I am only talking about Spotlight)

I would need something like "Spotlight Search" under "Restrictions", so I can turn it off completely, so any user can't enable the Internet search again.

That's like a little bug for anyone who want to be fully protected for mature/adult content. (I want to have my own filter, not what Apple says that is good)

PS. Currently I am with iOS 10.X in an iPhone SE. There's a video from youtube here that explains how to disable Settings app. That would be great, but that workaround only work in older versions of iOS.

  • Can you clarify exactly what it is you're wanting to restrict? That is, I understand you're wanting to disable Spotlight Search on iOS, but why are you wanting to do this? I ask only because what you're actually trying to achieve at the core may be achievable another way?
    – Monomeeth
    Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 0:12
  • Thank you for commenting. Really, that's not for personal use. A friend of mine has children, and he wants for their children to deactivate Spotlight Search in Internet with Bing. He showed me some outputs of the search. I can't totally agree with him, (because you can't even open the links if you have Safari restricted!), but for him would be great if those results don't appear in the spotlight search.
    – Geiser
    Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 0:21
  • I have been unable to permanently solve this problem - we have seen users access explicit material through the spotlight search from Twitter results. Apple configurator seems like the only option, though I would love to hear from someone who has actually done this
    – Jay Davis
    Commented May 15, 2017 at 20:34

3 Answers 3


Okay, sounds to me like your friend wants to totally prevent search engines while at the same time allowing most websites. In other words, no Google, no Bing, no Yahoo, no Baidu, no AOL, no Ask.com, and the list could go on and on.

If my understanding is right, then the best option to cover all bases would be to do as follows:

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Tap General
  3. Tap on Spotlight Search
  4. Disable Siri Suggestions, Suggestions in Search, Suggestions in Look Up
  5. Exit Spotlight Search
  6. Exit General
  7. Tap on Siri
  8. Either disable Siri totally OR disable Access on Lock Screen
  9. Exit Siri
  10. Tap on General
  11. Tap on Restrictions
  12. Enter a restrictions passcode
  13. Swipe up until you see the list of ALLOWED CONTENT options
  14. Tap on Websites
  15. Tap on Limit Adult Content
  16. Tap on Add a website... under the NEVER ALLOW heading
  17. Enter google.com and tap Done
  18. Repeat step 17 for any other search engines he wants to restrict
  19. Exit Websites and return to the main Restrictions screen
  20. Swipe down to see the top of the screen
  21. Disable Siri & Dictation
  22. Exit Restrictions

Now, the above is total overkill, but should do what he wants. He can then go back and re-enable certain things if this is disabling more than he wanted.


In newer versions of iOS, the various Siri options at Step 4 are now located at Settings > Siri & Search.

  • Thank you for your help. But even you alone can change the Spotlight Search options, and that is what my friend doesn't want for his children. You could simply enable Internet Suggestions under Settings -> General -> Spotlight Search... I would like it to be under Restrictions category, so you can choose like enabling or disabling it.
    – Geiser
    Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 10:10
  • Under restrictions, now he has only allowed certain webpages, so you can't almost use Safari, and that's great. But if you search something inside Spotlight Search (having enabled Internet Suggestions in the Spotlight config), you can see a preview of the webpages. My friend doesn't want these previews to show.
    – Geiser
    Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 10:13
  • 1
    Oh, okay, well he could follow these steps (or the bits he wants) and then use Apple Configurator (assuming he has a Mac) to truly hide the iPhone Settings app from users. But that again is a pretty drastic step, although I suppose you could do a fake hide instead and hope the kids don't find it. Either way I suggest you and your friend send feedback to Apple.
    – Monomeeth
    Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 11:13
  • There is no 'Spotlight search' on Settings > General :/ Commented May 28, 2019 at 17:28
  • @delphirules Ah, yes, it was moved in newer versions if iOS. I'll edit in an update to my answer to advise of the change. Thanks for the feedback! :)
    – Monomeeth
    Commented May 29, 2019 at 23:50

First, reboot into recovery by restarting your Mac while holding down Cmd+R. From Utilities, select Terminal and enter the following command to disable System Integrity Protection.

csrutil disable

To check if it is already disabled, run csrutil status.
Now, just run this:

mv /System/Library/CoreServices/Search.bundle /System/Library/CoreServices/Search_disabled.bundle

Then restart your Mac and Spotlight will be completely disabled.
Don't forget to re-enable System Integrity Protection once your are done.

  • 1
    The question was for iOS. Nice tip though.
    – bjbk
    Commented Dec 9, 2017 at 7:24

In this exact order, this is how to disable Spotlight Search on the iPhone:

  1. Go to SETTINGS
  2. Go to GENERAL
  3. Click on RESTRICTIONS
  5. Now, In the regular SETTINGS, go to SIRI AND SEARCH - and then scroll until you see SIRI SUGGESTIONS
  7. Scroll back up a little and Turn OFF PRESS HOME FOR SIRI
  8. Now go back to RESTRICTIONS and ENABLE them
  10. Scroll down a little bit (still in restrictions) and under ALLOWED CONTENT click on SIRI and TURN OFF EXPLICIT LANGUAGE and WEB SEARCH CONTENT

If you followed these directions in exact order, you can disable “Spotlight search” and will not be able to turn it back on unless you know the restrictions passcode for the phone.

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