How to Search Text Messages on iPhone Easily (iOS 17)

* This article is from our 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 even filter the search results in the latest version of iOS. Here’s how to search text messages on iPhone to find the information you need.

Why You'll Love This Tip:

  • Find specific text messages, photos, links, and more.
  • Filter messages by sender and search within specific conversations.

How to Search Text Messages on iPhone

System Requirements

This tip works on iPhones running iOS 17 or later. Learn how to update to iOS 17.

In the Messages app, you can use the search function to look for specific text messages, browse photos and screenshots in a gallery view, scroll through links that have been sent to you, and apply search filters. For more hidden iPhone tips and tricks, be sure to sign up for our free Tip of the Day newsletter. Now, here's how to search messages on iPhone:

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  1. Open the Messages app, and swipe down to make the Search Bar appear.

    iphone messages app with a red arrow pointing downward indicating to swipe down
  2. Tap the Search Bar.

    iphone messages app with a red circle around search bar
  3. Once you've tapped the search bar a row of recent contacts will appear, along with recent photos, links, and locations that you have received in messages. Type in your search term to see related results.

    iphone messages search results page
  4. Tap See All to see all the related results in any section of the search results (e.g. tap See All under Photos to see all photos).

    iphone messages search results page with red circles around "See all" buttons
  5. On iOS 17 and later, you can also use search filters to narrow down your search. For example, you can enter the name of a contact, and tap Messages with: to only search messages with that specific contact.

    iphone messages search results with a red circle around "messages with contact" filter
  6. You can tap any of the other filters to further narrow the results.

    iphone messages search results with search filter options circled in red
  7. Finally, tap any search result to jump to that specific text.

    iphone messages filtered search results with a specific message circled in red, which reads, "hello!"

Searching your texts only works for not deleted messages. You'll have to retrieve deleted messages on your iPhone to search them, or look at each one manually.

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

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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.