How to Use the Improved Search Bar in Messages on the iPhone & iPad

* This post is part of iPhone Life's Tip of the Day newsletter. . *

In the past, searching for a specific text in Messages was a headache. Now, Messages in-app search is not only optimized for text but also lets you browse images, screenshots, and links in a gallery view. You can access the search function by opening the Messages app and dragging down from the top of the screen. If you'd like to search Facebook messages or WhatsApp messages, you can also do that! Here’s how to use search in Messages to find the information you need.

Related: How to Save (All) Pictures from Messages & Facebook on iPhone

How to Use the Improved Search Bar in Messages

  1. Open the Messages app.
  2. Drag down from the top of the screen.
  3. Tap the Search bar.

  4. Once you've tapped the search bar a row of recent contacts will appear.
  5. Below that, you'll find recent photos, links, and locations that you have received in messages.

  6. Enter a word or phrase to use the search bar.
  7. You will now see contacts, messages, links, photos, and locations most relevant to that search term.
  8. Tap See All to see all the related results in any section of the search results.

Instead of using the search bar, you can also browse attachments in the thumbnail gallery.

  1. To browse attached links, go to the Links section, and tap See All.
  2. To browse photos or screenshots, go to the Photos section, and tap See All.
  3. To browse shared locations, go to Locations and tap See All.

  4. From Photos, you can browse either Photos or Screenshots.

  5. Links, Photos, and Screenshots will all display the photo or initials of the relevant Contact in the top right of the thumbnail.

  6. Finally, tap any search result to jump to that text.

Now you know how to use search in Messages to revisit old texts or attachments. For more tips on searching your Messages on iPhone and iPad, read this.

Top image credit: leungchopan /

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Author Details

Tamlin Day's picture

Author Details

Tamlin Day

Tamlin Day is a feature web writer for iPhone Life and a regular contributor to iPhone Life magazine. A prolific writer of tips, reviews, and in-depth guides, Tamlin has written hundreds of articles for iPhone Life. From iPhone settings to recommendations for the best iPhone-compatible gear to the latest Apple news, Tamlin's expertise covers a broad spectrum. 

Before joining iPhone Life, Tamlin received his BFA in Media & Communications as well as a BA in Graphic Design from Maharishi International University (MIU), where he edited MIU's literary journal, Meta-fore. With a passion for teaching, Tamlin has instructed young adults, college students, and adult learners on topics ranging from spoken word poetry to taking the perfect group selfie. Tamlin's first computer, a Radioshack Color Computer III, was given to him by his father. At 13, Tamlin built his first PC from spare parts. He is proud to put his passion for teaching and tech into practice as a writer and educator at iPhone Life.