How to Search iMessage

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How to Search iMessage

iMessage is Apple’s signature messaging service that let’s iOS and macOS users communicate over the internet rather than sending SMS-based messages. iMessage has a lot of great features! Aside from the visually appealing blue chat bubbles, you can quickly search iMessage for files, media, and past conversations.

But Apple doesn’t make it very easy to search iMessages. There’s no obvious search icon, and the steps differ depending on what you’re looking for and which device you use. However, fear not! We’ll teach you how to find what you’re looking for in iMessage quickly!

How to Search for Conversations on iMessage on iOS

After a while, your iMessage conversations can pile up. Finding anything you need can be a pain! Rather than scrolling to find a conversation, you can search iMessage and go right to it! However, knowing how to search for a conversation isn’t immediately apparent.

That’s why we’ll show you how to search for a conversation in iMessage.

Step 1: Open the Messaging App

Your Message app is a green app with a white chat bubble. This app is where you’ll find all your iMessages.

So, open the Messaging App on your iPhone or iPad.

Step 2: Reveal the Search Bar and Type Your Keywords

You won’t see the Search bar when you first open the Message app. But if you pull down from the top of your conversations, the text box will appear at the top.

Type the person’s name you’re looking for in the Search bar.

Step 3: Find the Conversation

A list of conversations will now appear. The one you want is likely at the top but scroll down if you don’t see it. When you’re ready to view the conversation, tap it.

How to Search in Conversations on iMessage on iOS

Unlike Facebook Messenger and Android-based platforms, you can’t search keywords inside an iMessage or SMS message on an iOS device. But you can search all conversations in your Messages to quickly reveal the information you want.

The steps are very similar to the ones listed above, but instead of looking at conversations, we’ll use different keywords to find the content within messages.

Step 1: Open the Messaging App

Both your iMessage and SMS-based messages are in the Message app on an iOS device. You’ll typically find this app at the bottom of your device’s screen. If you don’t immediately see it, go to your App Library by swiping to the left until all your apps appear.

Step 2: Reveal the Search Bar

You won’t immediately see the Search Bar when you open the app. So, pull down a bit, and it will appear at the top of your messages.

Step 3: Search Keywords

Tap inside the search bar and type your keywords. For example, if you’re looking for an appointment, type “Doctor Appointment Tuesday.”

Step 4: Locate the Information You Need

Now you can scroll through the list (although you probably won’t have to scroll far) and tap on the message you want!

Here is a quick, step-by-step video for further reference:

How to Search Media Files in iMessage on iOS

iMessage makes sending all sorts of data simple. Perhaps your friend sent you a great picture you want to save, or your boss sent you a document to save. It won’t take long before these files get lost amongst other messages and data.

Fortunately, it’s exceptionally easy to locate files in your iMessage conversations.

Step 1: Go to the Conversation

Open the Message App as we did above. Then, either search for the conversation or tap it in the list.

Step 2: Tap the Contact at the Top

When you open a conversation on an iPhone or iPad, you’ll see the contact’s profile image at the top (if they never set an image, it will be a grey bubble with their initial).

Tap on the contact at the top of the conversation window.

Step 3: Scroll to the Bottom

Now you can scroll to the bottom and see any Files, Links, and Images in the conversation.

Tap See All to reveal more files.

How to Search iMessage on a Mac

Perhaps you want to save a file or image to your Mac. Fortunately, macOS makes it even easier to search iMessages than iOS. It only takes a few steps to go directly to the conversation, text, or file you want.

Here’s what to do to search iMessage on a Mac:

Step 1: Open the Messaging App

Your Messaging App on a Mac is the same icon as the iOS version. So, look at your Dock (at the bottom of the screen where your Mac apps are) and double-click the Messaging App to open it.

Helpful Hint: Older versions of macOS used a blue chat icon. The Message app will be blue if you haven’t updated your software.

Step 2: Type the Contact Name or Keywords

The Message app will open, and you’ll see a list of conversations on the left and the selected conversation on the right.

But, at the top of the conversation menu on the left, you’ll see a search bar. Click the Search bar and type the name of the person’s conversation you want to view or a relevant keyword (i.e., appointment time, file name, etc.)

Step 3: Select the Conversation

Now that you found the conversation that interests you click it to open the whole chat and go directly to the message you want to see.

Step 3: Tap the i Icon in the Conversation

If you want to look for a File, Photo, or Link, tap the i icon in the top right of the message. Scroll to the bottom of the pop-up window and click Show More next to the data type you want to see.

Then, you can click on the file to open and save it.

Look No Further

Knowing how to search for conversations in iMessage is an excellent skill. It will save a lot of time and frustration because you can quickly locate all sorts of information! Although it takes a few steps to find what you’re looking for, it’s still faster and less frustrating than scrolling or sending a message asking someone to send something again!

You can search conversations on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac, and because all of your iCloud devices sync, you can locate the same messages and files on all of them!

Up Next

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I search SMS-based messages on iOS?

Although iMessages and SMS-based messages are different, Apple puts them both in the same place. You can follow the same steps above if you need to find a message or file in a conversation with an Android device.

How long does Apple archive iMessages?

Perhaps you need to find a message from years ago. Apple will let you keep your messages forever. Hopefully, you do regular iCloud backups and have carried your iMessages from device to device. If so, you can find anything you’ve ever sent or received.

However, you can also set your iMessages to delete after 30 days or one year. If that’s the case, you won’t be able to find much older conversations.

Can I filter conversations on my Mac?

macOS users running Ventura can filter their text messages. Those running older versions, unfortunately, can not.

Open the Message app (as we did above) and tap View at the very top of the screen. Then, select one of the filter options (unread, unknown sender, known sender, etc.).

Are iMessages secure?

iMessage, like many other messaging platforms, use end-to-end encryption. This means any messages you send or receive from another Apple device are secure.

End-to-end encryption means your data is encrypted while traveling and reformatted back to a legible form when it reaches its destination. But do remember that people can still take screenshots or send your messages to anyone they want without you knowing. So, don’t send anything you don’t want others to see.

What do I do if I can't find a message?

If you can’t find a message you really need, you can do an iCloud restoral to a previous backup that contains the message. But you risk losing everything else because you’ll have to factory wipe your iPhone or iPad.

To avoid the nuclear option, try checking another device first. Perhaps you have an old iPhone you don’t use anymore, or the message is on your Mac.

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