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How to Search and Recover iMessages/Text Messages on iPhone

author Emily Watson
date Friday, July 23, 2021

How to quickly find the old messages you want among hundreds of messages? And what should I do if I accidentally deleted them? This article introduces a software – FonePaw iPhone Data Recovery. It helps you quickly find and back up old/deleted messages.

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, I will show you 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

You can easily find old messages on iPhone 12/11/X/8/7/6 without scrolling 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.

  4. You may want to go to a specific date in iMessage.

tips Tip
  • 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 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.

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.

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.

Search 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

Search Old Messages Deleted from Months (Years) Ago

Scanning iPhone with FonePaw iPhone Data Recovery works effectively to find 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 years ago, you may use the FonePaw software to find the old text messages/iMessages from your iTunes/iCloud backups.

The method is quite similar to 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.

After the introduction of two ways on how to search old/deleted iPhone messages, which do you think is more convenient? The major difference between the two methods is pretty obvious - Efficiency. It’s quite easy to understand that using software to search for files is always more efficient than searching manually. If you have hundreds or even thousands of messages, it could take minutes, or even hours to search your phone manually; however, with FonePaw iPhone Data Recovery, you just need a few clicks.

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.

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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