How to Backup and Search iPhone Text Messages

Plus: Pros and Cons for 5 Methods for iPhone Message Download and Backups

Original search iphone messages min

Searching for old messages on your iPhone is a lot like looking for a needle in a haystack.

But without a backup to search through, that haystack is more like a haymountain.

You’re either stuck endlessly scrolling up in your message threads or typing random keywords into the search bar, hoping to get lucky.

And while these methods do sometimes work, there are much better ways to get the job done with far less hassle.

Follow along as we dive into our essential guide on how to search iPhone text messages, complete with five different ways of finding the needles you’re looking for.


Pros & Cons Different iPhone Text Message Backup Methods 

If you’re a seasoned iPhone user, you’re probably familiar with one or two of the approaches we’re about to cover…

But by the end of this article, you’ll have several tools in your message-hunting arsenal, including the easiest and most effective method to backup, search, and organize your old texts. 

We’ll also show you a fun way to turn those backed-up messages into a special keepsake that will last forever. 

So, let’s get started!


Method #1 - Back Up Your Messages for FREE With the Keepster App

Our first, and favorite method is to backup messages with Keepster. When you backup your iPhone text messages with Keepster, you can view, search (with keywords and dates), and organize texts from your Messages app, WhatsApp, LINE, Hike Messenger, and Viber—all for free.

PROS: Easiest to search with advanced search capabilities including names and keywords. Quick backup process.  Doesn’t require multiple services to backup multiple chat agents including Whatsapp, LINE, Hike and Viber. Doesn’t require extra memory on your mobile device. No subscription required. Easy to organize texts and chats into folders once they’ve been backed-up.  Delete texts from your backups easily. Securely stored.  Able to share with others. 

CONS: Not able to access the Keepster app on Android specific devices.   

Here’s how it’s done:

  1. First, make sure you have a recent iTunes (for Windows computers) or Finder backup (for Mac computers) of your iPhone
  2. Download the Keepster app to your Mac or computer here.
  3. Once you’ve created your account and logged in, go to the Backups tab.
  4. Click on the Create New Backup button at the bottom of the window.
  5. [MAC computers only] Follow the instructions on the next page to grant Keepster full disk access and restarted Keepster so the settings are applied. 
    • Return to the Backups tab and click Create New Backup again..
  6. First, select your device, then on the next screen select the latest iTunes or Finder backup. Once selected, you’ve started creating your Keepster backup. Depending on how many messages you’re backing up, the process could take several minutes, but even a large iMessage library won’t take very long.
  7. Once your backup is complete, you’ll be ready to view and search your iPhone text messages and organize your favorites into Keepster folders! 
    • For a step-by-step instructional video on how to back up your messages with Keepster, click here.

But Keepster’s features don’t stop there…

Skip to find out what to do with your backed-up Keepster iMessages or keep reading other common methods for backing up your phone. 



Non-Keepster Methods

Beyond Keepster, there are other methods to backup and search your text messages.  But, there are pros and cons for each.  We will try and explain them here.  But, in our opinion, Keepster is your best bet!  


Method #2 - Sync Your Message App to iCloud

If you’re wondering how to search iPhone text messages on your other Apple devices, syncing your Message app to iCloud is the way to go.

    PROS: you can auto-backup if you have it enabled. 
    CONS: may not be able to search for specific text messages from within iCloud’s platform. Takes up a lot of storage. Requires iCloud subscription. Won’t automatically sync Whatsapp and Viber, you have to configure this preference.  

To do this, first, make sure you have enough space on your iCloud for all the messages you want to back up, and then follow the steps below:

  1. Open Settings on your iPhone.
  2. Tap your username.
  3. Tap iCloud.
  4. Under “Apps Using iCloud,” tap Show All.
  5. Switch Messages to ON—the switch should be green—to start syncing your text and iMessages to your iCloud.


Method #3 - Create an iCloud Backup

This method will give you a backup of all the data currently on your iPhone, including your text and iMessages.

PROS: Can easily restore to any device.  Happens automatically when your iPhone or iPad is charging for an extended period of time on wifi.  
CONS: May require a subscription upgrade to accommodate the storage space needed to backup your iphone.  

Here’s how to do it:

  1. First, connect your iPhone to Wi-Fi and make sure it’s plugged into a charger.
  2. Open Settings.
  3. Tap your username.
  4. Tap iCloud.
  5. Select iCloud Backup.
  6. Switch “Back Up This iPhone” to ON. If it’s already turned on, select “Back Up Now” to create a new backup.
  7. From here, you’ll be able to restore your backed-up data to your current iPhone or transfer it to a new one. 


Method #4 - Create an iTunes or Finder Backup

Veteran Apple users will be familiar with this method, as it’s the “old-fashioned” way to download text messages from your iPhone. Newer MAC devices use Finder, so it will depend on your specific operating system.  

PROS: Can be done quickly. 
CONS: Backups are only available from the device where you originally backed-up. Requires direct connection between device and computer.  Requires enough storage on your device where backing up. No Ability to backup for Whatsapp, Viber, LINE, or Hike Messenger. 

Save a backup to your Macbook, Mac, or PC with these simple instructions:

  1. Open iTunes on your Mac or PC.
  2. Plug your iPhone into your computer via USB.
  3. When your device appears in the sidebar, click on it, then select the Summary tab.
  4. Check This Mac or This Computer, and then check Encrypt iPhone backup if you’d like to back up passwords and health data as well. 
  5. Select Backup Now, and make sure your iPhone stays connected until the backup is complete.
  6. This method is useful for creating backups to restore or transfer data, but you won’t be able to view backed-up messages on your Mac or computer. 


Method #5 - Sync Your iPhone to Your Mac

PROS: Quick speed of backup for iMessage. 
CONS: Can only be accessed from the Mac.  Must download multiple chat apps to sync from different chat platforms (one for Whatsapp, one for viber, one for LINE, one for Hike Messenger), so chats outside of iMessage take extra time. Requires sufficient memory. 

  1. If you want to view, search, and send messages on your Mac, you can sync your iPhone to it with these easy steps:
  2. Open the Messages app on your Mac.
  3. If you haven't already, you'll need to sign in with your Apple ID. 
  4. Once you’ve signed in, select Messages from the toolbar at the top left of your screen, then click Settings… from the drop-down menu.
  5. In the pop-up window, click the iMessage tab at the top. On older Macs, it may be called Accounts or Preferences instead. 
  6. Check “Enable This Account” and “Enable Messages in iCloud.”
  7. Then, click the General tab, open the drop-down menu next to Keep Messages, and select the option you prefer (30 days, 1 year, or forever).
  8. Now, launch Settings on your iPhone, scroll down, and tap Messages.
  9. On the Messages page, tap Text Message Forwarding.
  10. On this page, you’ll find a list of devices connected to your iCloud. Switch the button for your Mac ON—the switch should be green.
  11. If your messages don't automatically sync, go back to the Messages app on your Mac, open Preferences, and select Sync Now. 


What to Do With Your Backed Up Keepster iMessages 

We create countless memories texting our friends and loved ones:

Celebrating major milestones, having heart-to-heart conversations, making each other laugh with funny jokes and pictures…

These are all precious moments that deserve to be remembered…

And with Keepster, you can make them last forever.

Once you’ve backed up your iMessages and saved your favorites into folders, you can organize them into your very own custom Keepster storybook—complete with personalized messages and photos.

A Keepster book is a one-of-a-kind gift that’s perfect for Mother’s and Father’s Day, anniversaries, new parents, and so much more…
More Information on How to Make a Custom Message Book with the Keepster App 
Want to surprise a friend or loved one with a personalized text message storybook? Just follow the simple step-by-step guide below!

  1. First, using your Keepster backup, collect all the messages you’d like to include in your book into a Keepster folder.
  2. Want to add personal messages and photos to your book? Simply edit your Keepster folder, tap the plus sign wherever you want to add extra content and input whatever you like!
  3. When you’re finished adding messages and extra content, go to the My Projects tab and tap Create a New Keepster Book.
  4. Then, simply follow the steps to fully customize your book with a title, cover color and layout, personalized dedication, font, binding, etc.

It’s that simple.

If you’ve been racking your brain trying to figure out how to search iPhone text messages, Keepster is the answer you’ve been looking for—and more. 

It provides full access to view, search, and organize your backed-up texts, and the unique opportunity to turn them into a gift that will last a lifetime!

For a full instructional video on how to create your very own Keepster book, click here

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