Messages are not just convenient when you don’t want to talk over the phone. They also come in handy as records of your conversations. Whether it’s important information you’re looking for or it’s nostalgia that has gripped you, you can easily find any old messages on your iPhone.

Before you go on to search for a message, know that you can only search for messages that are still on your device. Any old messages that were deleted won’t appear, even if you have iCloud backup on. There is no option to archive messages on iPhone, so once deleted, those messages are gone forever.

There are two ways to search for a message. Let’s get on with it.

Search from within the Messages app

Open the Messages app on your iPhone. With the list of conversation threads open, swipe down on the screen. It doesn’t matter which list you have open – all messages, known senders, or unknown senders. The search will be for all conversations regardless of where you’re searching.

Tap the ‘Search bar’ at the top and type the phrase or the word you’re trying to search for. The more words you remember, the quicker it’ll be to find the result you’re looking for. But even if you don’t remember the exact word and only a few letters, type those. The search will return any messages containing those letters.

A few top results will appear on the screen right away as you type. If you find the message you’re looking for among those results, tap it to open it. Otherwise, tap ‘See All’ to open the complete search results. Then, tap the chat you want to open.

The message you searched for will open in the chat and will be highlighted in a darker bubble for a split second to make it easier to find.

You can also search for any message in the Messages app without even opening the app. Spotlight search has improved much over the years. It can even search for content from within the apps. And this entails searching for any iMessage or text messages on your device.

Swipe down on your home screen to bring up the spotlight search. Then, type the message you want to search.

Depending on the results in other places, you might have to scroll down a bit to get to the messages. If the message that appears in the spotlight is the one you’re looking for, tap it to open the chat. Otherwise, tap ‘Search in App’ to view more results.

The results will open in the app. Tap ‘See All’ to see all the results and tap the chat you want to open.

Can’t find the Message?

If you can’t find the message you were looking for, remember that this only works for messages that haven’t been deleted. “But I swear I didn’t delete those messages!” If you are saying this right now, chances are, your iPhone might have deleted those messages and a particular setting is to blame. To double-check, open the Settings app on your iPhone.

Then, scroll down and tap the option for ‘Messages’.

Scroll down in the message settings until you find the ‘Keep Messages’ option. Then, see the option next to it. If it says 30 days or 1 year, you’ve found your culprit. iPhone will delete all old messages after this certain period automatically.

Now, you can’t bring back any old messages but you can change this setting for the future. Tap the option to open it. Then, select ‘Forever’. But beware, selecting forever means you’re essentially going to be giving a lot of space to messages. Maybe selecting 1 year instead of 30 days is a better bargain in this case? That’s for you to decide.

The search option makes it extremely easy to find any old iMessage or text messages on your iPhone. Unfortunately, there’s no option to search for a message within a single chat to further reduce the clutter while searching. But the feature is still pretty great.