Now Where Did That Message Go?

Have you ever frittered away time scrolling through historical messages on your phone looking for that one piece of information you know you’ve already been told? How much time do you waste before you give up and ask the person again for their address, travel dates, recipe or other needed information? There is a better way!

Find that info

By using the search function in your text messages or WhatsApp chats, you can quickly find the information you know (or think) you’ve received or even sent. First you will either need to recall which platform (eg text or WhatsApp) was used to send the information. If you can’t recall, it simply means you may have to check each platform one at a time. So choose the one you think most likely to have been used. You probably already know with whom you had the text conversation, so you might be tempted to go directly to that chat string to look for it. Here’s an example where technology hasn’t caught up with logic. As of today, you cannot choose a conversation string and search there specifically. This also probably why many people don’t know how to search their texts, but it’s relatively easy with these steps:

Text Message Search

  1. Tap on to open your Text Messages. Do not choose a string (Sender or Recipient). Instead, gently pull down from anywhere (except the very top) of the screen. This will reveal the search bar near the top, just under the “Messages” title and before the actual message strings. See before and after in image below.
  2. Now comes the thinking part. Try to determine a word or exact phrase that was used in that chat that would be likely to be unique to that conversation. For example, if you’re searching for the dates a friend sent you for her vacation in Rhodes, rather than search on “Brenda’s vacation”, instead try “Rhodes” (unless you live in Greece, in which case there might be a lot of mentions of Rhodes, lucky you). If you can’t think of something unique about the conversation, try searching on a term that was used surrounding that conversation. For example, a friend recently moved and shared her address, which I hadn’t added to my contacts and needed to share with another friend. Instead of searching “move” or “address” (which would have brought up countless chats), I recalled her mentioning it was near Coal Drop Yard (a small, trendy market in London). As you can imagine, not many conversations contained the words “Coal Drop” so the chat came right up, with those words highlighted. In one additional tap I had her street address in front of me.
  3. The search results will come up, usually in reverse chronological order ie most recent first. It will say which people or persons the chat was with and the section of the conversation where those words are used. Tap on the one you think is likely the winner, and you’ll bring up the whole chat at that point. Unless it was the first or last thing you had in the chat, you’ll also see what came just before and just after mention of that word.
  4. If your first guess of which chat contains the needed information was not correct, simply tap the back arrow < at the top of the screen, and you’ll be back to your search results and can try another string.

WhatsApp Search

  • The process is similar to the above. Tap on WhatsApp to open the platform. Do not choose a specific chat string, and if the app opens to a specific chat, tap the back button < to get to the overview page for WhatsApp chats. Pull down gently from anywhere in the middle of the screen to reveal the Search bar.
  • Follow Steps 2-4 in above section.

In the case of my friend’s new address, I found it in less time than it took the other friend to ask me and a whole lot less time than it would have taken to scroll through screens and screens of our daily group chat.

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