MacOS and iOS Frequently Do Not Prioritize User-Created Data in Search

Chris Hynes:

All across macOS and iOS, when you search for something, the ordering of results in most cases is:

  • A top hit (unclear how this is generated)

  • Suggestions (unclear how this is generated)

  • Your own data that you spent valuable time entering


I don’t know if this is a macOS or iOS specific thing, but it’s a trend on those platforms in recent years that is very frustrating. It’s hard enough finding things on the internet but once you find them, it should be easy to find them again.

Not only does this seem like backwards logic, it’s a system that prioritizes network-based suggestions, and updates those suggestions as you type — but not quite at the same speed as you can type. Unless you have an extremely fast connection and everything is working perfectly, those suggestions are a moving target.

Despite these drawbacks, I have long kept these network-based suggestions switched on because I assumed I was using them. Eventually, however, I decided to run a little experiment: a couple of months back, where possible, I turned them off in Safari and Look Up on my Mac. Look Up is now fast and almost never displays a loading indicator. Safari’s address bar, on the other hand, still has a mysterious Top Hits section at the top that loads in bursts. So, if you tap the down arrow key while typing and a new Top Hit pops in, the selected row jumps all the way back up to the top.