If you are an iPhone user, your texting app is probably iMessage. It is an incredibly useful inbuilt iOS app with versatile features. Whether you use iMessage on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac, you can store as many messages as you want. But that may mean you have thousands of messages on your iPhone.
So how do you search for a particular message in iMessage, especially in a single conversation? Until recently, Apple didn't offer much of a solution, but now there are several ways to find exactly what you're looking for in an iMessage conversation.
Can you search within a single iMessage conversation?
Some people quickly delete entire iMessage conversations, especially if they're inactive or a problem has been resolved. Others choose to keep all the conversations they've ever had on iMessage and other text messaging apps.
Saving messages is a good idea if you know they contain essential information. For example, the message may contain important contact information, but you haven't saved it yet.
Searching specific conversations in iMessage may yield the result you need. However, on iOS devices, you don't have the option to open a single conversation in iMessage and search for it. Therefore, you have to try another route to get the result you need.
How to Search iMessage with Specific Keywords
The search feature in iMessage is intuitive and convenient enough. When you want to search for specific information, you can use the search bar in the iMessage conversation list.
The search bar isn't always visible, so you may need to drag it down to make it appear. Suppose you want to check information about Christmas plans you had with a family member. Here's how to find the answer you need:
- Go to the search bar in Conversation view in iMessage.
- Enter the keyword “Christmas”.
- The iMessage app will display the last three messages containing the word "Christmas". If none of them offer the desired result, tap on “See all” to see more. Also, you will see contacts, photos and links containing the same keyword.
Messages containing the word “Christmas” will be listed chronologically and by contacts. So you can see various names listed, but you can follow the date and time to find the one you need.
When you see it, tap on the message and that conversation will open to show more information. Naturally, the more specific the keyword, the easier the search will be. Remember that this option is only available on iOS 13 and later.
How to Search iMessage Conversations with Spotlight
There's another quick way to find the conversation part in iMessage: Spotlight. This is a search function built into every iOS device and works with Siri. It also makes searching through iMessage a simple process. Here's how to use it:
- To access Spotlight, swipe down from your iPhone or iPad's home screen.
- At the very top of the screen, you will see a search bar. Enter the keyword and press "Search".
- Spotlight will likely list lots of results from iMessage and the web, as well as other apps on your phone.
If your search is specific enough, you'll likely find what you need fairly quickly. Using Spotlight is especially useful if you're not sure whether the information you're looking for was sent or received via iMessage.
If Spotlight doesn't show results for the iMessage app, what you're looking for may be in another text messaging app on your device. Another possibility is that the post or thread you are looking for has already been deleted.
How far can you search iMessage conversations
One of the best features available to Apple users is iCloud storage. Having access to iCloud means you can recover all your iMessage contacts, photos, and conversations as long as they were backed up first. To make sure all your messages are saved:
- Go to Settings, then tap your Apple ID.
- Select iCloud, then enable the "Messages" button.
However, if this feature is not enabled, you can only search for messages on your phone. This might make you wonder how far in time can you actually search.
It entirely depends on your current device settings. You can save your messages for 30 days, a year or forever.
If your storage space allows, keeping messages forever might not be a problem. But some people choose a different approach. To check the retention period of your messages:
- Go to Settings, then select “Messages”.
- Select "Keep Messages" in the Message History section.
- Choose the settings that work best for you.
Find the right words quickly
Scrolling through a single conversation to find specific information can be a time-consuming and tedious task. This is especially problematic if it's an iMessage conversation with someone you communicate with a lot and your chat threads are very long.
The same goes for group posts where you may not know who wrote what. With the right keyword, searching through messages on your Apple devices is a quick process.
The app's search function displays results in chronological order. If you have a good idea of when something was written, it's an easy search. Unfortunately, searching within a single conversation isn't possible, but you can also use Spotlight search to narrow down the possibilities.
What should you generally look for in messaging apps? Let us know in the comments section below.