How to Search Messages/iMessages on iPhone

By Emily Watson, Thursday, September. 14, 2017

With a number of messages that we receive every day, it could be a serious challenge if we want to search certain information from text messages/iMessages on iPhone, especially when we need to find phone numbers someone texted to me.

In this guide, I will show you three easy ways to search and read text messages and iMessages (the deleted ones are included) in details.

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Part 1. How to Track Old Text Messages/iMessages on iPhone

Look up Old Text Messages on iPhone

  1. Tap Message app.

  2. While viewing the Messages list swipe down with your finger to expose the search box

  3. Enter the search string/keywords/phone number in the search box and the results list will automatically update as you type.

  4. You may want to go to a specific date in iMessage. Unfortunately, currently, there is no way to search iMessages/text messages by date on iPhone.

Tap Message App on iPhone

Use Spotlight to Find Old Messages

You can also access to text messages on iPhone with Spotlight.

  1. Just tap and swipe to the right to bring up Spotlight Search from the Home screen.

  2. Then, tap the search bar and enter the information you are searching for. You can search a word, phone number, etc. in the target text message.

  3. When the search results appeared, swipe down to scroll through the list to locate the Messages section.

Spotlight Search Messages

Now in iOS 11, Spotlight is more powerful for you to search contents.

Part 2. Quickly Get to the Beginning of A Text Conversation

Also here is a simple trick to help you quickly scroll back to the top of a text message/iMessage without swiping/scrolling. It is very simple yet easy to be neglected. This can help you better see texts history on iPhone. 

  1. Open a text message/iMessage thread.

  2. Keep taping the upper bar on the very top of your iPhone screen, the bar that displays the current time, your carrier's name, battery level, etc.

  3. As you tap, it will quickly scroll to the beginning of the message conversation.

  4. The trick can also be applied to look up messages in other messaging apps like WhatsApp.

Quickly Scroll to the Top of A Message

Part 3. How to Search Deleted iPhone Messages

To search old text messages that have been deleted from your iPhone, you can use a tool named FonePaw iPhone Data Recovery. This tool is initially designed to recover lost, deleted and hidden data from iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. It can be also used to check and pull up old SMS, MMS and iMessages on your iPhone X/8/8 Plus/7/7 Plus/ SE/6s/6. And when you find out them, you can retrieve old text messages from iPhone.

Windows Version DownloadMac Version Download

Search Recently Deleted iPhone Messages

Step 1. Download, install and open the program on your computer. Then connect your iPhone to the computer. You'll then get a pop-up window asking you to tap "Trust" on your iPhone to trust this computer.

Connect iPhone to PC and Start to Scan

Step 2. After the program detects the device, you may click on the "Start Scan" button for the program to scan recently deleted messages on your iPhone.

Scan iPhone Text Messages

Step 3. When the scan is completed, the program displays all the files it found including the recently deleted messages/iMessages. You can "Only display the deleted items" to find the delete messages that you need.

Step 4. To look up a specific text, you can input the texter's name, phone number or email partially in the search box at the right corner of the interface.

Search All Messages on iPhone

Step 5. Select the needed messages by clicking on the checkboxes, hit the Recover button to save the conversation on a computer.


Search Old Messages Deleted from Months(Years) Ago

Scanning iPhone with FonePaw iPhone Data Recovery works more effectively to fins the messages that are deleted lately because the data of the messages have not been wiped out from the phone. However, if you search for old messages/iMessages that are deleted from months or even a year ago, you may use the FonePaw software to find the old text messages/iMessages from your iTunes/iCloud backups.

The method is quite similar with that of searching recently deleted messages, only that you should have backups that were created months or years ago stored on PC or iCloud and you don't have to connect your iPhone to PC

On FonePaw iPhone Data Recovery, choose "Recover from iTunes(iCloud) Backup File", select the right backup according to its date, you can then search and see your old messages/iMessages on the software.

iMessages from iTunes Backup

Part 4. How to Search and Backup SMS on iPhone X/8/7/7 Plus/6

Like FonePaw iPhone Data Recovery which can help you search deleted iPhone text messages, iOS Data Backup & Restore is another tool that let you find all text messages on your iPhone by inputting the keyword of the message content or sender's name, phone number of a message. It can also backup text messages/iMessages history on your iPhone. 

  1. Free download iOS Data Backup & Restore on a PC.

  2. Windows Version Download
  3.  Open the program and connect your iPhone with USB cable. Then use the program to make a backup of text messages/iMessages on your iPhone. (Full guide on how to backup messages on iPhone)

  4. When the backup is done, click Restore iOS Data to view the backup. 


  5. Enter word, phone number, contact name on the search bar to search text messages/iMessages. You can also click Restore to PC to view the messages on PC or Restore to Device to share the messages to other iPhone.

Search Text Messages/iMessages

Apart from searching for deleted SMS on iPhone, you can also take advantage of FonePaw iPhone Data Recovery to search notes, contacts, WhatsApp messages, Safari bookmarks, Safari history, etc. on iPhone and iPad. Start here!

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