iOS 4.2 features: Find text on Safari web page

iOS 4.2 will finally give iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad the ability to find text on a Safari web page. It can be hard to find a specific snippet of text on a long, paragraph strewn web page. On Windows or Mac, you just hit CTL-F or CMD-F, type your text, and off you go. Now in iOS 4.2 beta 1 you just use the regular old search field (still confusingly labeled Google by default) and start typing the text you want to find.

Where previously you only got suggested search terms, now you get a second list at the bottom for words you can search on the page. Tap one and the first match on the page is highlighted in yellow and a set of buttons slide up on the bottom for "Next" and "Done", as well as a counter for how many matches of the word there are on the page, and which one is currently highlighted (e.g., 7/16). Hit next until you find the one you want, hit done when you're finished. If you want to change the find term, the search box is repositioned alongside the controls to make it convenient.

No more manual scanning, no more javascript bookmarklets. Just happy surfing.

One more pic after the break.

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Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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iOS 4.2 features: Find text on Safari web page

47 Comments

It's about freakin' time! I wonder why Apple took so long to implement such and simple, yet, useful feature?

I was looking for an "Find on this page" icon on the videos posted so far. I didn't imagine they would add it as part of the search bar. Makes sense and would seem an elegant solution.

Yeah, really elegant solution. I dig it. Will definitely come in handy. Reasons to have third-party browsers like Atomic and iCab are fewer and fewer!

Well, does this really matter? Everybody who cares about using a "normal" browser uses already one of the alternatives. iCab Mobile is so much better in every aspect, that it doesn't help to introduce this old functionality finally also to Mobile Safari.

Not quite as elegant, but you can do this with javascript in Mobile Safari, no jailbreaking required:
1) Add a bookmark
2) Go back and edit the bookmark. For it's name, call it "Find in Page" For the address, put this javascript in:
javascript:void%28s%3Dprompt%28%27Find%20text%3A%27%2C%27%27%29%29%3Bs%3D%27%28%27+s+%27%29%27%3Bx%3Dnew%20RegExp%28s%2C%27gi%27%29%3Brn%3DMath.floor%28Math.random%28%29*100%29%3Brid%3D%27z%27%20+%20rn%3Bb%20%3D%20document.body.innerHTML%3Bb%3Db.replace%28x%2C%27%3Cspan%20name%3D%27%20+%20rid%20+%20%27%20id%3D%27%20+%20rid%20+%20%27%20style%3D%5C%27color%3A%23000%3Bbackground-color%3Ayellow%3B%20font-weight%3Abold%3B%5C%27%3E%241%3C/span%3E%27%29%3Bvoid%28document.body.innerHTML%3Db%29%3Balert%28%27Found%20%27%20+%20document.getElementsByName%28rid%29.length%20+%20%27%20matches.%27%29%3Bwindow.scrollTo%280%2Cdocument.getElementsByName%28rid%29%5B0%5D.offsetTop%29%3B
When you select this bookmark, it will find all matches on the current page, and highlight them.
Note: I would bet that tipb's comment software will introduct line breaks into that really long javascript snippet, so you may have to do this on your desktop (or in Notes), and remove any line breaks or spaces you see in the address, and then put it in your bookmark.

I've always missed this feature in the iPhone. It will be great to have it.
The only question is will 4.0.2 be fast enough on my ancient 3G?

@(copy of) dev
That JavaScript copy and paste worked fine on my iPhone. No linebreaks were added. Thanks for the tip!

LMAO about fudging time Apple figured out it's useful to have search in the current webpage... not too excited since I've been doing it since day 1 using a bookmarklet.

Has this been confirmed on the iPhone itself? I only see it on the iPad. Coworker said it wasn't on his iPod touch after upgrading.

Doesn’t work on my iPhone 3G. Unfortunetely I didn’t find a single mention of 3G’s imcompatibility on Apple’s site.

Not there on my iPhone 3G either. Awesome Apple - thanks for leaving us in the dust with yet another feature that doesn't apply to our older devices. Glad you're encouraging brand loyalty - "Don't worry kids, buy our stuff because in 2 years none of the new features we introduce will work on your device and you'll have to fork out $$$ for our newest product."

It doesn't work on my iphone 4 either. So stop complaining about your devices being outdated..

It's there, just tough to find the first time. When you search in the search box, just scroll to the very bottom of the list that shows up.

@Steve aaah now I see. Indeed it works, though it works in a different way that was shown in the new iphone ad.

OMG. It works -- but reusing another unrelated feature (the Google search field) has to be one of the non-obvious, dumbest implementations I have ever seen.

Not on my iPhone 3G. I know where to look, but the "Find in Page" option simply is not there at the bottom of the Search Suggestions.

Funny but Java Bookmarcklets are still more powerful.
In the iOS 4.2.1 I cannot use regex search nor I can highlight all. All needed web search functionality has been there for a long time also working fine on iP3G. I will continue using it. Plus there are ton of other then search bookmarklets which I use.

Made In United states of america laser toner cartridges and printer drums that happens to be eco-friendly or perhaps eco-friendly.

Thank you. This is one of the best tips by a long shot. I have been looking for something like this and I was about to pay fora find in page app but thanks to this there is no need for it now

I am not sure the place you are getting your information, however great topic. I needs to spend a while studying much more or working out more. Thanks for fantastic information I was in search of this info for my mission.

Rene's way didn't work for me but this did (small diff was that instead of On this page' as per the below it states 'In this document'. Happy searching.

How do I use the Safari "find text" feature in iOS 4.2?

Many of you who eagerly updated to iOS 4.2 have inquired how to take advantage of the new feature that allows you to search for and find text within webpages in the iPhone's Mobile Safari browser.

Have no fear, the feature is there, even if you can't find it.

To search for text within a page in the new Safari in iOS 4.2.1, simply use the search bar in the upper righthand corner of your browser -- where you've been performing Google searches for years. At the bottom of the suggested searches that pops up will be "On This Page (x matches)", where x is obviously the number of matches. Simply click the find link below that to start the in-page text search.