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How to Search iMessages/Text Messages on iPhone (5 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, June 20, 2022

You may want to know how to search messages on iPhone easily and exactly. With the 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 us.

In this guide, you can learn three easy ways to search iMessages and text messages (the deleted ones are included) in detail. You can read old iMessages/text messages easily, and if the messages are deleted, you can recover the deleted iMessages and text messages.

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

Lookup Old Text Messages on iPhone

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. Luckily, this method tells you how to find old messages on iPhone without scrolling. You can easily find old messages on iPhone 13/12/11/X/8/7/6 with the search bar on iMessages.

  1. Tap the 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.

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.

Tap Message App on iPhone

Search Old iMessages/Text Messages on Today View

Finding text messages on Today View is also an easy way. Here is the simple guide on using Today View to search old messages on iPhone& iPad.

  1. Swipe to the right from your first Home screen to access Today View. You will then see a Search Bar on the top. You just need to tap the bar and type the keywords of the messages you need.

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

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

  4. 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.

  5. You will be brought to the Message App containing conversations and links. And the following steps are much similar to the former method we’ve mentioned. Just try to find the message you need then.

Search Message Today View

Use Spotlight to Find Old iMessages/Text Messages

You can also access text messages on your 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

On iOS 11 or above, such as the latest iOS 15, Spotlight is more powerful for you to search content.

How to View Messages Without Scrolling

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 lookup messages in other messaging apps like WhatsApp.

Quick Scroll to Top

Part 2. How to Search Deleted iPhone Messages

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 don’t worry so much! There are still some methods for you to find them back.

The most common way is to find the message 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 backup for help. Usually, iCloud 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.

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 your iPhone 11, XS/XR/X, 8/8 Plus/7/7 Plus, SE, or 6. And when you find these old text messages, you can retrieve them you’re your iPhone.

Main features of FonePaw iPhone Data Recovery are listed below:

  • 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/ iCloud backup

  • Quick Scan mode to finish searching within seconds

  • Fully compatible with the newest iOS systems

Now let’s learn how to search deleted messages on iPhone with FonePaw iPhone Data Recovery.

Steps on Searching Recently Deleted iPhone Messages

STEP 1 Download and install FonePaw iPhone Data Recovery.

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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

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.

  1. Open the Settings app and tap Messages.

  2. Choose Keep Messages in the Message History section.

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

Keep Messages

Part 3. How to Back Up Messages on iPhone

You are probably aware of the importance of backup now. But how to back up messages and other data on my iPhone? Like FonePaw iPhone Data Recovery which can help you search deleted iPhone text messages, there is another tool - iOS Data Backup & Restore, which helps you back up text messages/iMessages and other data on your iPhone.

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Open the program and connect your iPhone with a 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)

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

Finish Backup

Enter text, 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 another iPhone.

Preview Message

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 (opens new window) is an efficient method. It’s also a convenient way to back up messages on iPhone using iOS Data Backup & Restore.

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