How to Delete All iMessages from a Mac or MacBook
Apple’s iMessage feature is the developer’s standard messaging app with a lot of great features. Most known for making text-based communications amongst iPhone users seamless, iMessage is a feature available on almost all Apple devices. Your texts can appear on all of them from your phone, watch, and even your Mac computer.
One of the great things about iMessage is that it automatically saves and backs up your messages to your connected devices. However, this also makes things more difficult when you decide you want to delete all of your iMessages.
If you’re worried about someone looking through your Mac and finding your messages, or you want to delete your messages for some other reason, doing so is, fortunately, relatively easy. Let’s look at what steps you can take to delete all of your iMessages from your Mac or MacBook.
The Problem with Deleting iMessages
Deleting your iMessages on a Mac is not the hard part. It’s deleting them permanently that requires you to know a few tricks.
When you delete a message or conversation, and you’re using the default iMessage settings, chances are you’re going to recover all of them at some point. There’s also a big difference between deleting conversations and just closing them.
Although the text may disappear after you close a conversation, the messages reappear if you start a new conversation with the same contact. So, how can you fix this?
How to Delete iMessages on a Mac
If you have a Mac or Macbook, you can delete messages and conversations with a few clicks. The good news is that it isn’t hard to delete all messages on a Mac. We’ll take you through all of your options in this section.
How to Delete an iMessage on a Mac
If you want to delete a message within a conversation, do this:
- Open the Messaging app on your Mac and locate the message you’d like to delete.
- Right-click the message (control + click) and then click Delete.
You can follow these steps for each message you’d like to delete.
How to Delete iMessage Conversations on a Mac
If you want to quickly delete all messages on your Mac, you can do so by deleting the conversations. While this won’t give you a mass-deletion option, it is one of the quicker ways to clean up your messages.
To delete entire conversations, do this:
- Open the messaging app on your Mac and locate the conversation. Then, right-click it.
- Click Delete Conversation.
- Click Delete when prompted.
Now, the conversation and all of its messages will disappear.
Disable iCloud Messages
One of the great things about Apple products is that your messages can go from your iPhone to your Mac. But, if you want to stop messages from coming to your Mac, you can.
Here is how you disable iCloud Messages on a Mac:
- Open the Messaging app on your Mac and click on Messages in the upper left corner of your screen.
- Click on Preferences.
- Click on the iMessage tab.
- Uncheck the box next to Enable Messages in iCloud.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t solve your problem with older messages that have already been saved under the previous setting. Luckily, you can permanently delete all your chat history.
How to Permanently Delete Messages on a Mac
To permanently delete all of the messages on your Mac, follow these steps:
- Exit the iMessage app and then press Command + Shift + G. This brings up the Go To Folder window (Please note that it should say Finder at the top. If it doesn’t, click on your desktop before completing this step)
- Type in ~/Library/Messages and press Go
- Select the following files: chat.db, chat.db-wal, chat.db-shm, and everything else you might find there.
- Move the selected files to the Trash folder and then Empty the Trash folder.
- Open iMessage to verify if the operation was successful.
Note that this doesn’t delete any attachments from the conversations, just the messages. If you want to delete the attachments too, you need to perform the following steps:
- Exit the iMessage app and then press Command + Shift + G to open the Go To Folder window.
- Type in ~/Library/Messages/Attachments and press Enter.
- Select all the files that you want to delete, such as text, archives, music files, videos, etc.
- Move them to the Trash folder and then Empty the Trash folder.
This will permanently delete all of your attachments and the previously deleted messages.
Alternative Methods to Delete iMessages
If you want to avoid manually selecting the files, you could always use the terminal and run a simple command that empties the folder completely.
To do this, open the terminal and enter the following command:
rm –r ~/Library/Messages/chat.*
This will remove all iMessages permanently without the need to empty the Trash folder.
To delete attachments, enter the following command:
rm –r ~/Library/Messages/Attachments/??
This will remove everything in the Attachments folder regardless of if you’ve emptied the chat first.
Keep in mind that both of these command lines result in permanent action. None of the data deleted can be recovered unless you have performed backups prior to deleting the files.
Using the Clear Transcript Function
Another method involves using the Clear Transcript function.
- Open up a conversation window that you want to clean. Select the Edit tab on the app’s toolbar without making any bubble selections.
- Scroll down the list until you reach Clear Transcript.
- Click Clear to confirm that you’d like to clear the conversation.
You can also use a shortcut to do this even more quickly. Press Option + Command + K, or you can right-click an empty space in the conversation window and select the Clear Chat Transcript option.
You can do this for each conversation on your Mac or Macbook to quickly delete all of the messages.
A Final Thought
If you’re using a Mac, you have multiple methods at your disposal when it comes to erasing your chat history. You can remove individual messages, bulk messages, attachments, even entire conversations.
However, keep in mind that either of these methods will remove that data permanently. So, give it some serious thought before you deem it truly necessary to hide your chat history from prying eyes.