Searching messages / ichat / imessage

Is there a way to search old ichat / Messages threads that’s useful?

As far as I can tell, even though I have the correct boxes checked on my mac app, and the history seems to go back quite a ways, if there is a local file it’s no longer saved anywhere I might expect in ~/Library.

If I search in the Messages app, I can see that a given conversation may have X matches, and the chat will auto scroll to one of those, but there doesn’t seem to be a mechanism for cycling between them. For this to work at all seems to require me to remember exact phrasing of the specific moment in chat.

I have the same problem. Once with my iPhone 3GS I was able to export all messages to a readable spreadsheet format. Maybe go that route?

That’s something that many have been hoping, the search feature of iMessages is ok but not very great. If I search “dog” the first instance of a conversation about the family dog with my mom will come up but not others for the same contact.