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iGBHow-toiOS 17 Message search not working? 10 Ways to fix it!

iOS 17 Message search not working? 10 Ways to fix it!

Many people rely on Messages’ search function to search for particular information. The addition of search filters in iOS 17 has notably enhanced its utility. However, to the disappointment of many, iOS 17 also brought a significant flaw – Message search not working on iPhone.

This issue is a dealbreaker for many and has caused a major headache for many iPhone users. Is your iMessage search not working, too? Below are some troubleshooting tips and workarounds you may try to find what you’re looking for.

  1. Restart your iPhone
  2. Wait it out
  3. Change Language Settings on iPhone
  4. Send message to someone
  5. Turn off and on iMessage in iCloud
  6. Disable and re-enable Siri & Suggestions
  7. Update your iOS or downgrade to iOS 16
  8. Backup and restore from a recent backup
  9. Check if your iPhone deleted the message
  10. Temporary fixes

1. Restart your iPhone

It may sound cliché, but if you haven’t tried it, consider restarting your iPhone before delving into more intricate troubleshooting steps.

A simple reboot can often clear out most glitches and bugs wreaking havoc on your iPhone.

2. Wait it out

The problem behind the iMessage search not working in iOS 17 may be an indexing issue. Updating your OS or restoring your device seems to reset your iPhone’s search index. Unfortunately, it takes a long time for the device to rebuild its search index, and only new and recent messages get added to the search index after the update/restore process.

Some iPhone users who have complained about the issue for over a week, like Redditor jamesmcgill357, noted that after a while, more words could be searched, but results still don’t go as far back as they should. This could be because the iPhone may still be indexing in the background.

3. Change Language Settings on iPhone

One of the things that can help rebuild your search index to include all messages, including the old ones, is changing your language settings.

  1. Go to Settings → General.
  2. Select Language & Region.
  3. Change your current language to another language. 
    In case you don’t have the intended option, select Add Language.

    Change Language Settings on iPhone

Give it a few minutes before checking if your message search stretches further back your message history.

4. Send message to someone

If the search result doesn’t include your message history with a particular person, you might want to try sending a message to the person.

Doing so might help add the older message thread with this person to your search index, making them searchable again.

5. Turn off and on iMessage in iCloud

If you’re syncing your messages on iCloud, turning it off will cause your device to download all your messages into your device. Having all your messages stored on your iPhone can help force Messages to index again. 

  1. To do this, go to Settings → [your name] → iCloud.

    Go to iCloud from settings
  2. Tap Show All →  Messages → Toggle off Sync this iPhone.

    Toggle off Sync this iPhone in messages
  3. Toggle on Messages in iCloud again once it’s done downloading the messages and performing local indexing.

6. Disable and re-enable Siri & Suggestions

Since Siri uses information from Messages to offer suggestions in Search, Keyboard, and Lookup, deactivating and reactivating Siri & Suggestions for Messages could force Messages to rebuild its search index.

  1. Go to Settings → Siri & Search.
  2. Scroll down to the apps and select Messages.
  3. Toggle off Show App in Search, Show Content in Search, and Suggest App.

    Disable Siri & Suggestions from iPhone
  4. After this, exit Settings and turn off your device for a few minutes.
  5. Then, go back and toggle on all of the aforementioned settings.

7. Update your iOS or downgrade to iOS 16

Several users mentioned that the issue is already “under investigation” by Apple, and a person in Apple Support stated that the problem will likely be resolved in a future update. That being said, a solution might be available in iOS 17.0.3 or later.

Since the issue is tied to iOS 17, downgrading to iOS 16 might help fix the issue — especially if you only saw the problem after upgrading to iOS 17.

8. Backup and restore from a recent backup

Another drastic measure you might want to try is to restore your iPhone from a backup.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that this will work — but it’s worth a try.

9. Check if your iPhone deleted the message

If you’re confident that the content you’re searching for occurred in the past, it’s possible that the missing history results from either you deleting the message or your iPhone doing it for you. Once a message is deleted, it’s removed from your iPhone and won’t appear in Message searches.

  1. You can double-check this by going to Settings → Messages.
  2. Under Message History, tap Keep Messages → Select Forever from the dropdown menu.

    Check if your iPhone deleted the message
  3. If you’ve selected 30 Days or 1 Year, probably, the message you’re looking for has already been deleted.

10. Temporary fixes

While users generally have no choice but to wait for Apple to resolve the glitch or look for other ways to solve the issue on their own, there are a few things you can do to check your message history.

  • Use a different Apple device: Curiously, this phenomenon is limited to iPhones. Macs and iPads updated to macOS Sonoma and iPadOS 17 are exempted from the message search glitch. If you sync your messages across the ecosystem, you can still use your Mac or iPad to search your messages.
  • Search through Spotlight or Siri: Aside from searching in-app, you can also conduct your message history search through Siri or Spotlight. Siri doesn’t dig deep into your message history, but it can definitely dig up some information from your recent threads, especially if your in-app search yields no results.

    You can also do a Spotlight search by tapping the Search button on the Home Screen. Enter a word or a phrase and scroll through the results until you see the Messages section.
  • Do a manual search: Lastly, you can do a manual search. While the search bar inside Messages fails to retrieve results due to faulty indexing, you can still manually scroll through your message thread to find what you’re looking for.

Wrapping up…

Given the lengthy nature of message threads, the search function is a lifeline for finding crucial information. Ideally, this function should significantly reduce the time spent manually searching, so it’s naturally frustrating when the results fall short of expectations.  

Were any of the provided solutions effective for you? If not, your best bet is to wait until Apple releases an OS update to fix this bug. We’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below!

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  • Rachel

    Rachel, an experienced Apple technology writer since 2021 and a long-time user since 2003, began her journey with a silver iPod Classic. Currently, she owns an array of modern Apple gadgets. At iGeeksBlog, her expertise shines through in the crafting of comprehensive how-to articles, informative guides, and well-curated roundups.

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