Spotlight Search Results Blank, or Spotlight Not Working in iOS 8? Here’s a Really Silly Temporary Fix
Spotlight gained many new features and improvements with the latest version of iOS, but along with those changes came a curious bug that seems to randomly prevent Spotlight from working at all on an iPhone or iPad with empty search results.
The situation is difficult to reliably reproduce since it does appear to be completely random, but the symptom is always the same; Spotlight is summoned as usual by pulling down on the Home Screen of iOS, but no matter what is typed into spotlight, nothing is returned at all, you get just a blank screen with no search results. Even searching for something obvious like “phone” (which should reveal the phone app as well as anything that mentions “phone” including emails, messages, apps, something on wikipedia or the web, and whatever else, returns absolutely nothing – the keyword or text you type doesn’t matter, nothing works in Spotlight when you hit this bug.
Having experienced this regularly on an iPhone 6 Plus with the latest version of iOS available (8.1, more on that in a moment), I have found a really dumb workaround to resolve the problem consistently: Send yourself an email from the iPhone to your iPhone email address
Yes seriously. I know that sounds absurd, but sending your iOS device an email actually makes Spotlight search start working again. All you need to do is send yourself an email to whatever mail account is setup on the iOS device, and once the new email is detected by iOS Mail app (as indicated by a Notification or the new mail chime), suddenly Spotlight works again.
This is very obviously a bug with Spotlight, but based on emails and comments we’re getting here, it seems to be fairly widespread, as users report that Spotlight has either stopped working entirely or that Spotlight won’t return any results they were accustomed to seeing, instead users get the entirely unhelpful blank screen. Some users have reported that changing the Search results priority can also resolve issues with iOS Spotlight, but that was less reliable in testing. What makes this bug even more odd is that the iOS 8.1 release notes specifically mention a fix for Search not displaying results is included, but perhaps that was a different problem than this one.
I figured out this silly email trick accidentally when troubleshooting the blank Spotlight results problem by emailing myself a few notes. Once the new mail notification came through, Spotlight magically worked to show search results again. I have been able to replicate the fix on multiple occasions, which, while fairly goofy, is helpful and certainly preferable to the other solution that works to repair Spotlight malfunctioning in iOS, which is to reboot the iPhone (or iPad).
If Spotlight is showing you a blank screen without any search results or is randomly not working for you in iOS, give this a try, and let us know if it works for you too. Be sure to mention what iOS version you’re on too.