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How to Use Search Keywords or Filters in iPhone Messages

“Can you search text messages on iPhone?” If that’s the question that got you here, you will be happy by the end of the post. With iOS 17, Apple has boosted the existing search feature in the Messages app. You can now find old messages on your iPhone without scrolling using search keywords and filters. Let’s learn how to use search keywords and filters to find a particular message on an iPhone.

The search operators and filters work for regular SMS messages and iMessage on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. The following post covers the steps for iPhone, but they will work similarly on iPad as well.

How to Find a Specific Word in a Message

If you are looking for a specific word in a message and you don’t remember who sent it, follow these steps to find such a message:

Step 1: Open the Messages app on your iPhone.

Step 2: Swipe down from the center of the screen to reveal the search bar.

Step 3: Type a word or phrase that you want to find. All the messages from different users containing that word will appear. Tap on the message that you want to view.

Tip: Learn how to send audio messages on iPhone

Find a Message Within a Specific Conversation

Starting with iOS 17, Apple has enhanced the search feature in the Messages app. Now, you can narrow down your search results and search within message threads using search filters in iOS 17.

Follow these steps to find words specifically from one person in iPhone Messages:

Step 1: Open the Messages app search bar and enter the contact’s name in whose thread you want to find a particular word. You will see the contacts matching that name.

Step 2: Tap on ‘Messages with: [contact name]’.

Step 3: The contact name will appear in the search bar as a search filter. Now, enter the word you are looking for next to the contact name.

Step 4: Your iPhone will instantly show the message containing that specific word from the selected user. Tap on the message to open it.  

Tip: Learn how to lock messages on your iPhone

Use Link, Document, Photo, or Location Search Filters to Find Messages

In addition to the Messages with keyword, you can use the following search filters in the Messages app to find a particular message:




Follow these steps to use other search filters in the Messages app.

Step 1: Open the search bar in the Messages app.

Step 2: Type Document, Links, or Photos based on what you want to find in messages. When you type any of the three, a search filter option will appear. Tap on it to use it as a keyword.

Step 3: Now, type the word describing what you are looking for in that particular keyword.

For instance, if you want to see photos of cats, type photos. Select the Photos keyword. Once it appears in the search bar, type cat to find cat photos from all your messages.

Note: iPhones do not offer filter messages by date keyword yet.

How to Combine Multiple Search Criteria

What’s interesting about search keywords in the Messages app is that you can combine keywords. For instance, if you are looking for cat photos from a specific user, you can combine the Messages with and Photos keywords. Similarly, you can combine other keywords.

Step 1: In the Messages app search bar, type the name of the contact and select the Messages with keyword having the contact name.

Step 2: Now, select the second criterion from the list that shows up. Or, manually enter it.

Step 3: With both the criteria in the search bar, enter the phrase matching the photo you are looking for.

Tip: You can search for phrases within multiple contacts by combining keywords.

View All Unread Messages on iPhone

iPhones can filter messages from unknown senders. But did you know you could view all your unread messages in one place? For that, tap on the Filter option on the home screen of the Messages app, followed by the Unread Messages filter category.

In India and Brazil, Apple has introduced an additional search filter feature in iOS 17 to automatically organize transactional and promotional messages into two categories: Transactions and Promotions. You can access them by tapping on the Filters option present at the top-left corner of the Messages app.

The Transactions category is further divided into subcategories like Finance, Orders, and Reminders. Tap on a category to view its messages.

Tip: You can disable SMS Filter by going to Settings > Messages > Unknown & Spam. Select None under SMS Filtering.  

Use Spotlight Search to Find Messages

If you are a fan of Spotlight search, you can use it to search in iMessage to find specific messages on your iPhone or iPad. However, it’s not user-friendly or direct and doesn’t support search filters. But if those things don’t bother you, Spotlight Search can help you find messages without scrolling on your iPhone.

Step 1: On your iPhone’s home screen, swipe down from the center of the screen to open Spotlight search.

Step 2: Type a word or phrase you are looking for in a message.

Step 3: Scroll down to the Messages section to find the message containing that word. Tap on the message to open it in the Messages app.

Tip: Learn how to remove photos from Spotlight search

Customize iPhone Messages

That’s how you can find specific messages using keywords and filters on your iPhone. Before you go, know how to use special effects like pew pew in iMessage. Also, check out other cool iOS 17 Messages features.

Guiding Tech

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