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How to Search Text Messages/iMessages on iPhone (3 Ways)

Can I quickly find old messages among hundreds of them or simply view them by date? Can they be restored when deleted? The handy FonePaw iPhone Data Recovery helps you easily find and recover old/deleted messages.
author Emily Watson
date Monday, September 11, 2023

You may want to know how to search messages on iPhone easily and exactly. Considering the number of messages that we receive every day, it could be a serious challenge if we want to search a certain message/iMessage on iPhone, especially when we even forgot the phone number someone used to text to us.

This guide is to help you quickly find the text message or iMessage you want. We’ll share three easy ways to search iMessages and text messages (the deleted ones included) in detail, so that you will be able to read old iMessages/text messages easily, and even if the messages are deleted, you can still preview and recover them.

Before you start, you can also watch the video on how to find your iPhone text messages using the recovery software.

How to Search Text Messages on iPhone in Messsages App

If you have used your iPhone for a while, you will find it hard to locate the old message you need, and you can only keep scrolling. Actually, there’s a search bar on the Messages app itself, so you can easily find old messages on your iPhone with this feature instead of scrolling to locate what you need.

Step 1. Tap to open the Messages app.

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

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

Tap Message App on iPhone

Besides, if you are using a Mac and want to search messages on it, you can use the same method. But Mac doesn’t allow you to preview the message like iOS, and you must check each contact until you find the one you need.

tips Note:
  • Unfortunately, currently, there is no way to search iMessages/text messages by date on iPhone. The most convenient way now you can choose is to search messages by keywords as the method mentions. But if you are a Mac user, it does have a way to search your text messages by date.

How to Search Text Messages on iPhone via Spotlight

Spotlight Search is a powerful feature provided by Apple to find the contents you need throughout the phone. If you want to locate old text messages/iMessages on your iPhone, it’s another good choice.

Step 1. First, you have two ways to access the Spotlight feature:

  • Access from Today View: Swipe to the right from your first Home Screen to access Today View. You will then see a Search Bar on the top, which is Spotlight.
  • Access from Home Screen: Tap the little search bar at the bottom of your Home Screen, and you will also be able to use the Spotlight feature.

Step 2. You just need to tap the bar and type the keywords of the messages you need.

Step 3. Swipe up until you find the Conversations section. If you see the text you search for, just tap it.

If you cannot find the text in Conversations, you can check if it’s in the Messages section.

If Messages doesn’t contain the text, you may need to scroll to the bottom and check under Search in Apps and tap Search Messages. Then you will be brought to the Message App containing conversations and links.

Search Messages Spotlight

tips Tip:
  • On iOS 11 or above, such as the latest iOS 17, Spotlight is more powerful for you to search content.

Tip: How to View Messages Without Scrolling

Besides finding the old messages you need, there is also a simple trick to help you quickly scroll back to the top of a text message/iMessage on your iPhone without swiping/scrolling. It is very simple yet easy to be neglected. This can help you better see texts history on iPhone.

Step 1. Open a text message/iMessage thread.

Step 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.

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

The trick can also be applied to lookup messages in other messaging apps like WhatsApp.

Quick Scroll to Top

How to Search Deleted Text Messages on iPhone with FonePaw

After a thorough search, if you still couldn't find the old texts that you need, the iMessages or messages may have been deleted. But it’s not yet to feel sad. There are still some methods for you to find them back.

The most common way is to find the message from Recently Deleted folder (iOS 16/17) on other iOS devices. If you have other iOS devices, you can try to find the deleted messages on them. If you only have an iPhone and cannot check the deleted text on other iOS devices, you may turn to iCloud or iTunes backups for help. Usually, iCloud and iTunes can back up most data. But it’s somehow risky, for when you try to restore the text messages, you may lose other important data at the same time.

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Then comes to the last but effective method: using a reliable third-party tool to help you. To search for old text messages that have been deleted from your iPhone, you can use a tool named FonePaw iPhone Data Recovery. This tool is designed to recover lost, deleted, and hidden data from iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. It can also be used to check and pull up old SMS, MMS, and iMessages on most of iPhone models (including the latest iPhone 15 lineup). And when you find these old text messages, you can retrieve them you’re your iPhone.

Main features of FonePaw iPhone Data Recovery:
  • Directly search and preview your old/ deleted messages by date on iOS
  • Conveniently search and recover messages from messaging apps (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Line, and Kik)
  • Allow you to retrieve iMessages from iTunes backup
  • Quick Scan mode to finish searching within seconds
  • Fully compatible with the newest iOS systems

Steps on Searching Recently Deleted iPhone Messages

STEP 1 Download and install FonePaw iPhone Data Recovery.

STEP 2 Launch 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.

STEP 3 After the program detects the device, click the Start Scan button for the program to search recently deleted iMessages and text messages on your iPhone.

Scan Device

STEP 4 When the search is completed, the program displays all the files it found including recently deleted messages/iMessages. You can choose Only display the deleted items to find the deleted messages that you need.

Click Only Display Deleted Items

STEP 5 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.

STEP 6 Select the message by clicking the checkboxes. Hit the Recover button to save the conversation on a computer.

Recover iPhone Message

Now you have known how to use FonePaw iPhone Data Recovery to recover deleted messages. It’s a powerful tool that can help you search deleted messages/ iMessages and even attached files by typing keywords and preview them by date. After you find and select the data you want, FonePaw iPhone Data Recovery can help you recover them immediately.

tips Tips
  • You may want to keep the whole conversations saved in local storage, and FonePaw iPhone Data Recovery can help you achieve it. After you finish all the steps above and click Recover, you will see a pop-up window that lets you set the output path. Just choose the local folder you want the messages to be saved in. You can also transfer them to your iPhone after the recovery.

Keep Messages In Local Storage

Tip: How Long can iPhone Keep Your Messages?

When you need to find old messages on iPhone, you may be not sure about the exact time you received them and whether iPhone still saves them or not. Now we’d like to tell you that iPhone is able to save the messages forever! Just follow the following steps to allow your iPhone to keep the messages forever.

Step 1. Open the Settings app and tap Messages.

Step 2. Choose Keep Messages in the Message History section.

Step 3. Then you can choose Forever. Of course, you can also choose 30 Days or 1 Year.

Keep Messages

Tip: How to Locate Junk Messages on iPhone

You may have reported some junk messages as spam and deleted them from your iPhone. Do you think they are totally removed from your phone? Actually, not. Instead, these junk messages are moved to a separate place to be stored. If you mistakenly marked a message as junk, you still have the chance to restore it.

Step 1. Open the Settings app and then locate Messages.

Step 2. Locate Junk at the Message Filtering section.

Step 3. Then you will see the whole list of the junk messages. You can tap into a specific one to preview and choose to restore or permanently delete it.

Find Jink Messages iPhone

In conclusion, it is recommended to always back up the important messages or any other data on your phone in case you need them. And if you cannot find or accidentally delete important messages, using a data recovery software like FonePaw iPhone Data Recovery is an efficient method.

iPhone Data Recovery
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