iPhone SMS Cache Might Reveal Your Secrets

iPhone SMS Cache Might Reveal Your Secrets
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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?


  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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…

  • 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?

  • 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 … 

  • 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?

  • 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. ???

  • I have figured this out, took me a while but i have done it. This applied to JailBroken iPhones only.

    I have a JailBroken iPhone5 IOS6.1

    I noticed i had contacts dating back 2 years that i had deleted but still showed up when i started typing a text.

    So i searched the internet for applications that were supposed to clear this but never did.

    So i went though every file and found 3 files responsible for this annoyance.

    The only down side is that you will never have a resents cache again, although i don’t see this as a down side 🙂

    All u need is a Jailbroken iPhone, iFunbox software that you can download if you search for it.

    you need to navigate your phones file structure ROOT\VAR\MOBILE\LIBRARY\MAIL\ in this directory there are 3 files all with the name resents, Resents.shm & resents.wall copy these files to your desktop (if you want a backup) and then delete them from this directory. Reboot your phone and BAM all gone.

    Hope that helps all of you 🙂

  • I just used this technique to prove infidelity. I knew something had happened but my wife lied to my face over and over. I searched words like sex, regret, fuck. All these entries came up with horribly incriminating evidence. Good luck to everyone that tries this method.

  • Yes, it’s technically possible.
    Restoring iPhone with iTunes is the fastest way to get the lost files back to iPhone. You only need to plug your iPhone into computer via USB cable, and choose “Restore” in the summary panel when the iPhone is recognized by iTunes. Choose the iPhone backup and click “Restore” to start restoring iPhone with the iPhone backup.
    Besides iTunes, you can use iCloud as well. Before using iCloud, you need to ensure that you have enabled iCloud on their computer. You can go to Settings > iCloud to have a check.
    But if you have added new data after the messages get lost, you may want to use another method to get your lost message back without messing up with the new iPhone data. At this moment, FonePaw iPhone Data Recovery program will provide you much help.

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