How to use Circle to Search

Using Google Circle to Search on a Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

If Circle to Search feels familiar, it's because you've used it before. With Android Marshmallow 6.0, Google had a feature called Now on Tap, but unlike Circle to Search, it gave you information for everything on your screen, which might have been way too much info for some. Circle to Search is a bit more focused, and you only get the info for the object or person you choose.

The feature first rolled out on the Galaxy S24 series before making its way to Pixel phones and other Galaxy models. If your phone supports the feature, this explainer will show you how to activate and use it.

What is Circle to Search

Circle to Search is a feature that allows you to either circle, highlight, scribble, or tap on the object or person you want more information on. For example, let's say you see your favorite influencer post about some amazing boots and want to know where you can get them. Select the boots and get the information you need on the designer and where to buy them without having to leave the app you're using.

Circle to Search also allows you to multisearch, thanks to Google's latest AI-powered upgrades. For example, select a specific food you're seeing on a lot of videos and ask why it's so popular (or any other question) in the Add to your search bar. You'll get a text response giving you an answer to your question.

How to enable Circle to Search

Setting up Circle to Search on your Android phone is pretty straightforward. Whether you have a Galaxy phone or Pixel, the steps to enable the feature are roughly the same.

1. Open the Settings app and go to Display

2. Tap on the Navigation bar.

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

3. Choose either the Buttons or Swipe Gesture option. 

4. Toggle on Circle to Search.

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

The above steps are for a Samsung Galaxy phone, but as noted before, they're similar for Pixel devices as well. To enable, navigate to Settings > Display > Navigation mode. You'll find a settings icon in both the Gesture navigation and 3-button navigation options. Tap this, and you'll find the toggle to enable (or disable) Circle to Search.

If you ever change your mind and want to turn off Circle to Search, you can follow the same steps, but this time, toggle it off. If you decide to keep it on, let's see what the new feature can do for you on your Samsung and Pixel Android phones.

How to use Circle to Search on a Galaxy or Pixel phone

Note: The steps for using the Circle to Search feature will be the same for Galaxy phones and Pixel devices.

Once you've turned on Circle to Search, it's time to have some fun with the new feature. Remember, you can use it with the three-button navigation and gesture navigation feature. To start using it, you can:

1. Press and hold the home button or the navigation bar.

2. When Circle to Search is on, either tap, scribble, highlight, or circle what or whom you want more information on.

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

You can also use Circle to Search with your camera app. Long-press on the home button or navigation bar and Circle whatever is in your viewfinder to get some results. Google says you can use Circle to Search any app installed on your phone.

Did a friend mention the name of a restaurant, and you want to know about the place? Select the text using your preferred method, and swipe up to view more info about the place. If you're listening to a new artist on Spotify and want to know more about them, enable Circle to Search and select the text for more information, including social media links. You can also use the feature to translate text on your screen.

And if the search bar at the bottom happens to be in your way, you can tap and hold it to move it around on your display. Pretty handy!

Get the information you need faster and easier

When Google announced Circle to Search, many of us were very happy. It brought flashbacks of the Now on Tap feature you used with Android 6.0 Marshmallow, but this time with major improvements.

Circle to Search has expanded to more phones since its initial launch, but it's still limited to Galaxy and Pixel devices for now. That said, more devices are expected to have access to the feature later in 2024.

Google Search has come a long way, and things can only get better from here, right?

Judy Sanhz

Judy is a tech geek who loves technology. She has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering various devices and programs. She stays updated on the latest gadgets, upgrades, features, and news. She aims to make complicated tech information easy for everyone to read. When she's not writing about tech, she's watching Indiana Jones for the 100th time.

With contributions from