iPhone SMS Cache Might Reveal Your Secrets

Been using your iPhone to text someone you shouldn't? Lifehacker reader Nicholas notes that the iPhone's cache of old SMS messages might see you caught out. Here's what he discovered:

I have never seen this mentioned anywhere. I have tested it over and over on both mine and multiple other iPhones running the iPhone 4+ firmware.

From the home screen:

  • Swipe your finger to the right to bring up the search screen.
  • Begin typing the name of the person to see any text messages or emails sent to that person. Often you will see the first line of a text message but when you click on the message it is unavailable.

It doesn’t matter how old the message is, the search will bring up a random list it has in its cache. I have even updated and formatted my iPhone, and it still appears, so the cache must also reside within iTunes sync.

This is the greatest way ever to catch a cheating partner even though they might think they have deleted both the contact and the messages from their iPhone.

Even assuming no cheating is involved, that's something to bear in mind if you're using your iPhone for sensitive information. Anyone else encountered this?


    What's the icon on the top right hand corner between the BT and battery?

      I just noticed it too - what is it??

        I have that icon on my phone when I connect my Bluetooth Plantronics 903+ Backbeat headset to my iPhone.

        Bluetooth device battery level.

    Soooo Android caters towards cheaters that little bit more.

    I'm guessing it's a jailbroken iphone. I've never seen that strange icon in the status bar either, and have not been able to reproduce that glitch either.

    doesnt work on mine either

    The funniest thing is that this screenshot looks a million times better than the hopeless default speech bubbles SMS interface of the iphone.

    it is a volume icon for a connected audio device

    According to the apple support website...

    "Shows battery level for the iPhone Bluetooth Headset when it’s connected"

    Strange, I've never seen this icon when I connect my bluetooth stereo headset.

    It's a bug in iOS where deleted messages sometimes will remain in the cache, which is why some of you can see it however most will not.

    To remove it you can do one of two things: either disabling Spotlight search for messages in Settings will stop them from showing up (only really hiding them from appearing as re-enabling the setting will make them appear again) or restore as a device through iTunes. If you restore from a backup, they will appear again

      Sorry, that should have been restored as a new device

    That symbol between the battery percentage and BT is the battery for the BT device. Only selected BT devices support this.

    I can reproduce it. It will show a message I sent and deleted yesterday night, but not one from lunchtime yesterday. I thought it might be between PC syncs or something, but there is no pattern.

    Nahh, I can't reproduce this either, and I'm on a 3GS. And as for that strange logo, I think that might be the battery level from the Apple Bluetooth headset, which is now discontinued. Not sure if that symbol comes up with other bluetooth headsets though...

    Is it funny that most of the commenters are talking about the BT device battery level icon and not the actual issue?

    I was able to reproduce it on my 3GS.

    Holy shit if my wife reads this posts and checks my phone I'm fucked. It's got some nasty shit there I found stuff from years ago Inc mms pictures. Without doing a full reset how do I save my marriage?

      you could start by being honest with your wife

      You wife wouldn't need to read your phone, you just mentioned what's on it. Maybe http://www.sharemylife.info may interest you :P

    The newer Jawbone (ICON & ERA) bluetooth units will give u that icon.

    I just tried this on my iPhone4 and it dident work

    just unselect 'messages' (and anything else you don't want to show up in a search) in your spotlight settings. Settings > General > Spotlight Search.

    EASIEST FIX: You can download iPhoneBrowser and navigate to private/var/mobile/library/spotlight and delete the cash file. Mine was named updates.SMSSearch.spotlight Make sure you throw away the backup after you're sure it worked without causing problems with your search function. This file isn't only bad for cheaters, if you ever want to sell your iPhone unlocked you may givr away sensutive info.

    robert's suggestion points to the clue, but is only halfway right...

    You need to delete SMSSearchdb.sqlitedb and SMSSearchidx.spotlight for this to happen.

    They will be recreated later with fresher data

    Strange but true facts !!!

    Though you delete the SMS form your iPhone but whenever you go to Spotlight search coming on most left slide tab after all slide tabs over… and search any old SMS here and you will able to see the first line of that SMS!!! You can read the part of first line of that SMS nothing else and to whom you sent or from whom you received it … but that is also too much … [email protected]#@#$#$#$%#$%$&^&*^*^%#[email protected]!!!!!!!!! What is this... Apple??? you are playing wiht yuot customer's secrets...

    Yesterday, I found it working on my iPhone4 & that’s the reason today I tried to search some solution for same & finally got the following solution, can worked using iSSH for me.

    I deleted following files from folder /var/mobile/Library/Spotlight/com.apple.MobileSMS:-


    And then I restarted my iPhone and everything from the search gone… it is showing only those SMS which are currently actually in my SMS Inbox.  Worked Fine … 

    This program solves the problem for "non-jailbreakers" :)


      But how can it be done with that tool using ios5.1.1
      Any ideas?

    How do you know how recent a text is?

    Not willing to jailbreak the phone. I installed from icopybot the ibackupbot app (renamed itunes-backup-manager). Trouble is I can't get to /var/mobile/Library/Spotlight. Any other non-jailbreak options?

    Is there anyway to retrieve the full email or text once it's been deleted?

    My boyfriend and I have recently got back together. He found a deleted "inappropriate"photo on my iPhone from a guy he is convinced I slept with.
    For some reason the speech bubble points to the right indicating I sent it!
    I definitely did not. ???

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