Hey Apple, It’s Really Hard to Search Through Messages…

Brandon Crooks
May 18, 2017 · 2 min read

Apple’s Messages search function is… well… weak. It has for a while and it’s time for a redesign.

Evaluative Research

When searching for terms in messenger, it first:
1. Shows the number of matches under each conversation
2. And sort-of ‘Highlights’ the most recent chat bubble with the matched term(s)

This is great if the most recent matched result is what you’re looking for but poses an issue as there is no way to cycle through the other matched results. This creates an awkward experience and forces users to manually scroll through conversations to retrieve information.

Comparative Research

During the design process I took a look at few messaging apps to see how they handled in-message searching.

Facebook does an excellent job by offering users an option to search within messages. When activated, an additional toolbar appears allowing users to cycle through matched results.

Skype offers two solutions; Searching via the universal search bar or by pressing ⌘+f to search through the current conversation. Similar to Facebook, a toolbar also appears allowing user to cycle through matched results.

User Goals

1. Search messages and contacts.
2. *Cycle through matched search results within a conversation.


After gathering insights from my research, I started to sketch out the message search flow.

Initiate search.
  1. Tapping the search bar or pressing ⌘+f initiates search mode on messenger.
Enter search term.

2. Enters your search term(s) in the search field.

Search results.

3. After selecting a conversation, a search toolbar appears above the conversation window. The current matched result stays opaque while unmatched results are dimmed.

Jump between search results.

4. Tapping on the up or down chevrons jumps between match results within the conversation.


Affording the user the opportunity to cycle through results would dramatically increase search usability. This method is also scalable to work on the mobile application.

Thanks for reading reading! You can check out the Adobe XD prototype here.


Brandon Crooks

Written by

Part-time adult, full-time Product Designer www.brandoncrooks.com

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