Searching notes in Calendar and Contact apps

Christopher Breen
24 September, 2009
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If you’ve made journal notes in iCal’s Notes field, but want to search those fields using the iPhone’s Spotlight feature, you may find yourself out of luck. Regrettably, the iPhone’s Spotlight isn’t spot on when it comes to searching all the nooks and crannies of your data. In addition to missing this field, it also fails to track the contents of the Notes field in Contact entries.

There’s no way to force Spotlight to do what you want (though you might want to offer Apple some gentle feedback that you’d like Spotlight to be as thorough on your phone as it is on your Mac). But there are a few workarounds.

The first is to not use this field and, instead, enter your notes in an event’s Location field. For very short notes you can use the Company field in contacts. Clumsy, yes, but Spotlight will search these fields.

For contacts you could also use a different application. For example, Andrea Vettori’s $5.99 ABContacts lets you search a contact’s Notes field from within that application (it doesn’t bring that ability to Spotlight, however). Regrettably, I haven’t found a third-party calendar app that can use the Calendar app’s data yet search the Notes field. (If anyone has a clue, I’m all ears.)

Finally, depending on how desperate you are for a solution, you can jailbreak your iPhone and, using Cydia (the application for third-party apps not found/allowed at the App Store), install Positron Software’s free Searcher app. Unlike Spotlight, Searcher will search the Notes fields of events and contacts.

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