On my iPhone 4, I have a large number of SMS messages (I don't delete them at all).

If I want to search for text in a particular message, it appears not to search historic SMSes. In other words, unless the text is visible in the latest messages, viewable on the screen without tapping "Load Earlier Messages", it will not match my string.

Am I doing it wrong? Is this a known issue?


Apple does not search for very old text messages as it makes the search much slower. There is no setting to modify the period of messages it should go through, but if you really need this then you can jailbreak and SSH into your iPhone. You can then edit the .plist file and make it search for messages that are even 2 years old.

Note: This will significantly make the searching slow.

  • I'm not prepared to jailbreak for this feature. Thanks for your answer.
    – user479
    Nov 22 '11 at 5:57
  • 1
    which .plist file to edit? and what changes are to made to view old messages in search. plz explain.
    – user15719
    Dec 30 '11 at 7:09

I know it isn't a solution for viewing on the iPhone but there is a program called DiskAid will allow you to view past messages on your computer. It uses your backup files from iTunes.

  • I've got a way to do it on the computer. I wanted a solution for the phone unfortunately. Thanks for your post.
    – user479
    Nov 21 '11 at 4:34

Spotlight search not working as expected.

Taken from engineerings reply on the issue:


"What the customer is experiencing is actually considered expected behaviour. With the release of iOS 10, customers are now only able to search the last 200 messages with Spotlight or the in app search. This would include the last 200 sent and received messages.

The 200 searchable messages limit is only after restoring from a backup prior to iOS 10. This is why devices that had the same Messages database and were not restored from a backup when they upgraded to iOS 10 can still search prior to the 200 limit.

If the customer would like to see this function in a different manner going forward, please encourage the customer to submit feedback at apple.com/feedback. “

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