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’ll provide several examples. First up, Maps. Let’s say I want to search for my doctor in Maps. She is in my Contacts.
Let’s start with a search for “se” just for grins. Note how we have a Top Hit, Suggestions, and then my own data at the bottom.
Let’s type two more letters, but this time in Contacts. Note that we have one hit, my doctor.
Maps has something different to say. First, we have 4 results for places, one of which is 35 miles away and an offer to search nearby for “serralheiros”—and my doctor at the bottom.
Just for fun, how about my entire doctor’s utterly unique nine character name. First hit, a location in Italy. She’s Italian, but born here, but still, not bad. Second hit in Argentina. And my doctor at the bottom again.
How about I try her entire first and last name. Surely I’ll get one result right? Nope, I get a “suggestion” which is shockingly correct and then I get my own data.
I know search results can be bad and it’s a difficult thing to pull off, but I entered my own personal data and it should always take priority in my opinion.
More infuriating is Safari, which returns results like this:
- Top hit
- Google suggestions
- Bookmarks and History
If I type “bird” I get this:
In this case, the Top Hit is not so bad because I just recently visited the site. It has no knowledge of whether I like the site, though.
Next, there are Google Suggestions. I don’t know what to say other than it’s a giant waste of space and if you’ve ever used it, please email me because I’m curious.
Finally, Bookmarks and History, inexplicable mixed together. I say inexplicable because of a common usage scenario.
- You’re searching for something
- You find a lot of crap pages, which end up in your history)
- You find this totally awesome page after lots of time
- You bookmark it (how else will you find this gem again)
- You keep searching for the same thing, just to be sure. This gets added to your history too
- You type in the search field in Safari
- You get a bunch of history entries and not your bookmark
In my own case, I have this many bookmarks with the word “bird” in them:
And I get these results from search:
Want to guess how many of the Bookmarks and History are in my bookmarks: ZERO.
Unlike Maps, which puts my personally entered data at the bottom. Safari mixes it with history and doesn’t include all my bookmarks that match. Why should I bother bookmarking? How do I find the best pages I’ve painstakingly found?
This one I’ll just describe quickly in text to avoid this going on forever.
- Highlight some text on a page
- Bookmark the page
- Search for a word in your highlighted text or on the bookmarked page
Unless your highlighted or bookmarked page happens to be the first instance of that word, the results are presented in page order. Again, why do I bother raising the importance of certain data if searching it doesn’t give it any importance.
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.