We keep lots of old text messages on our iPhone or iPad. But can you find the ones you want when you need them?

Unless you run low on space, you probably use the Messages app on your iPhone or iPad like an unlimited cache of conversations. There’s only one small hitch: how do you quickly find and scroll to an old message when you need to?


Girl messaging on an iPhone

Here are two simple ways to quickly get to the message you want in iOS.

Scrolling can become tiresome after a few vertical swipes along the screen. A faster navigation method is to tap at the top of the screen and let it instantly scroll a few messages at a time.

  1. Open the Messages app in iOS and select the conversation you want to view.
  2. Now tap once near the clock (or on either side of the camera notch) at the top of your iPhone or iPad screen.

    iPhone Messages with indicators for spots to tap and scroll

  3. A progress indicator appears as the app scrolls up a few messages at a time.
  4. Keep tapping on the spot to quickly scan through the history of old messages till you find what you’re looking for.

It’ll take a lot of tapping on the top of the screen to take you back in time to the beginning of the message thread. But it’s more comfortable than swiping to scroll, which gets frustrating fast.

Tip: This method works on every app on iOS.

But is there a faster way that doesn’t involve scrolling?

Find an Old Message With the Search Bar in iOS

You can search for a message if you remember any words someone used in it. This is the fastest way to find an old message on your iPhone and can save you a lot of scrolling or tapping.

  1. Go to the Messages app.
  2. Find the Search bar on the main screen with all the conversation threads. You may need to drag down from the middle of the screen to make it appear.
  3. Type the words you remember in the search bar or use your voice with a tap on the mic.

    iPhone Messages Search bar

  4. The relevant conversations appear chronologically, with the newest messages on top. The words you searched appear highlighted within them.
  5. Go through the results and tap to open the one you’re looking for.

This method only works if you remember part of the original message. So try a few variations of different search terms. If this fails, you’ll have to fall back on the cumbersome scrolling method.

Also, you can only find an old message if you haven’t deleted it from the Messages app already. If you have, you need to look into the different ways to recover deleted text messages on your iPhone instead.


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