I know this is possible because I keep accidentally bringing up Spotlight Search randomly when I’m using apps. Not on the Home Screen.

I’ve searched and all I can find is that you can trigger the search either from the Home Screen, with an external keyboard, or with a11y controls and that there’s no other way.

If there’s a gesture for this I’d love to know what it is because I would actually use that. iPad Pro (12.9-inch) (3rd generation) iPadOS 14.4.2

  • I’ve never used an external keyboard
  • I use the Apple Folio Case
  • I use an Apple Pencil
  • I’ve been having issues with phantom touches near the corner of the volume keys side and USB port side
  • It usually happens somehow when, in landscape, my hand is near the top left of the screen but I can’t reproduce it afterwards
  • 1
    Spotlight/search can be brought up on an iPad/iPhone by swiping down from the middle of the screen when you are on a home screen. As far as I can see that gesture does not work while you are in an app. Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 14:30
  • I can access search within an app if I first swipe down from the top (open Notification Center) and then swipe to the right on my iPhone. I think it worked on my iPad too a few years ago until I disabled it in settings. I cannot recall which setting it was. Does it work for you?
    – iTunes
    Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 22:03
  • @iTunes that gets me to the widgets but there doesn't seem to be a search there Commented Apr 7, 2021 at 3:24
  • I'm with you, Dude. I've done it by accident before myself, and have not been able to figure out what triggers it.
    – Calion
    Commented Oct 16, 2022 at 23:08
  • 1
    @Calion Finally figured it out in the answer below Commented Oct 17, 2022 at 19:01

1 Answer 1


I finally figured out how to trigger search without an external keyboard.

Turns out it's contextual and only works after a specific action.

It's the "← Search" text that appears in the top left corner of the screen after you get to an App via iPadOS Search.

iPad OS Search Text on the left side of the Status bar to trigger the Search overlay

If you accidentally tap it the Search overlay will appear. However, the "← Search" text will disappear meaning you can't tap it a second time to reproduce it.

If you leave the App and then get into it again via Search the "← Search" text will once again appear and let you trigger the search overlay.

You can click for a Video Demonstration below:

Video Demonstration

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