7 Best Ways To Use Universal Search On iPad

Apple introduced Universal Search in iPadOS 14 and improved how Search works on the iPad. It’s faster, more immersive, and streamlined, making it more in tune with Spotlight Search on Mac.


7 Best Ways To Use Universal Search On iPad

That said, there are plenty of ways to get the most out of Universal Search. For example, did you know that you can use it to launch any website without having to open Safari first? Or the fact that you can use an Apple Pencil to write down your queries instead of typing? Let’s start.

1. Start Stuff immediately

As the name suggests, universal search allows you to search for anything, without turning the entire screen away. Whether it’s an app, a document, or a note, start typing its name and you should see relevant results appear immediately.

However, you don’t have to hunt and peck search results like you used to. Rather, universal search will try to lock you into the most relevant result as you type.

Universal search Ipad 1

7 Best Ways To Use Universal Search On iPad

Whenever you see the “- Open” pop-up in the search box, tap Go on the onscreen keyboard to quickly open the app or item you are looking for.

2. Websites open quickly

Universal search is fully integrated with Safari. Type a web address in the Search box, tap Go, and you can immediately launch the website in the native iPad web browser. Beats have to open Safari, display a new tab and tap on the address bar whenever you want to go to a specific site.

Universal search for iPad 2

7 Best Ways To Use Universal Search On iPad

If you’ve visited a website several times before, start typing its name and universal search will automatically suggest the site. Tap Go to launch it in Safari.

3. Scribble to search

With an Apple Pencil, you can use the Scribble feature built into Universal Search to write instead of typing. Scribble automatically converts your handwriting into typed text. This could translate to faster searches if you don’t like typing on the full-size or floating keyboard.

Doodle gestures such as “scratch to delete” and “tap and hold to free space” also allow you to easily correct the converted handwriting in Universal Search.

To enable Scribble, go to iPad Settings> Apple Pencil, then turn on the switch next to Scribble. Then open universal search and start writing.

4. Start searching anywhere

If you have a keyboard connected to your iPad, you can access Universal Search wherever you are. Just hit Command + Space and it should pop up quickly.

Universal search for iPad 3

7 Best Ways To Use Universal Search On iPad

Yes, you could do this before with the old search functionality. But the non-intrusive way universal search now appears allows for a significantly better experience while also interacting with other apps.

5. Search without keyboard

Don’t have a keyboard? You don’t have to use universal search only on the home screen. While there’s no dedicated gesture to activate the feature (what were you thinking, Apple?), You can instead use AssistiveTouch to invoke universal search from anywhere.

Start by going to iPad Settings> Accessibility> Touch> AssistiveTouch. Turn on the switch next to Assistive Touch, and then you can bind “Spotlight” as a single, double, or long-press touch assist action.

Universal search for iPad 4

7 Best Ways To Use Universal Search On iPad

This is not the most ideal since you now have the AssistiveTouch icon floating on your screen. However, you can reduce the opacity of inactivity to make the presence of the icon less obvious.

6. Open apps in split view

When using universal search, you can easily find and drag any app (or item in the appropriate app) to multitask. Show universal search while using another app and start the search: long press on a result, then remove it from the Universal Search pane towards the corner of the screen.

Release your finger before you reach the edge to trigger the swipe, or drag your finger toward the edge of the screen to open the item in split view.

7. Lightweight search

By default, Universal Search displays a list of Siri suggestions whenever you bring it up. If they distract you, consider turning them off.

Universal search for iPad 5

7 Best Ways To Use Universal Search On iPad

Go to Settings> Siri & Search, then turn off the switch next to Suggestions in Search. This should bring out a much lighter universal search user interface the next time you start using it.

Look like a pro

With Universal Search, the iPad has gone one step further to become a true MacBook replacement. Spotlight Search is always one step ahead in macOS, but Apple is expected to close that gap with upcoming iPadOS iterations. Given that the Cupertino-based tech giant is set to integrate iPadOS apps on macOS and blur the line between the two platforms, it could happen sooner than you think.

So, do you know of any other great ways to use universal search? Leave a comment and let us know.

Then:

The iPad still doesn’t have a native calculator. Instead, take a look at these seven awesome (and free) third-party calculator apps.

Last updated on August 7, 2020

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