How To Permanently Delete All Messages on the iPhone
Even though deleting messages on a smartphone seems like a simple thing to do, you really need to think twice when iPhones are concerned. Remember older models, where even if you deleted a message from your inbox, it would still pop up when you searched for it in Spotlight Search?
Embarrassing or secretive messages simply need to be deleted, but now it is a chore that requires thorough management of data. This means you should attack the issue from multiple angles, as deleted text messages, iMessages, and picture messages may still linger out on a cloud service somewhere.
This is why you need to follow a few simple steps to make sure that the messages you want to delete from your iPhone are really deleted.
First off, you need to understand how the whole process of messaging on your iPhone works. Yes, the green boxes you see in your Messages app are indeed text messages that you send and receive, but they are not associated with any Apple IDs.
Do not forget that messaging on an iPhone can also include blue boxes, which are normally referred to as iMessages. These can only be sent and received by Apple devices, and as such, they are associated with Apple IDs.
Deleting Messages on Your iPhone
Unlike previous versions of iOS, deleted messages on your iPhone are actually deleted and you should not worry that much as long as you have not created backups of your messages and do not have any other Apple devices.
Step 1 – Delete Entire Conversations
The safest, easiest, and fastest way of getting rid of messages from your iPhone is to simply delete entire conversations with a given contact.
Just go to the conversation you want to delete, swipe to the left, and then tap on the red button which says “Delete.”
Step 2 – Deleting Individual Messages
There are situations in which you don’t want to get rid of an entire conversation with a contact, but still want to permanently delete certain portions of that conversation. This can also be done very easily, but you will first need to go to the conversation in which you need to delete certain portions.
Next, locate the questionable portion that needs to be deleted and then long-press on it. After this, you will see a menu consisting of several options.
Tap on the button that says “More” and then keep tapping on the dots right next to the messages you want to delete until you have removed all parts of the conversation you don’t want to keep on your phone.
When you’re done selecting unwanted messages, simply tap on the Trash icon located in the bottom left corner of your screen and then tap the “Delete Message” option to complete the process.
Step 3 – Deleting Messages in an iPhone Backup
Even though you might’ve deleted all the unwanted messages from your Messages app, there are still places where old messages might linger. These places are usually cloud services and backups. If you’ve ever backed up your iPhone before, rest assured there’s stuff there that you probably don’t want anyone to see.
You might forget this and then restore one of the backups, so the unwanted messages will be restored, as well.
The first thing you need to do is to go to your iPhone’s Settings. Tap on your name at the top then tap ‘iCloud.’ Next, you can tap on ‘Manage Storage.’ From here, if you tap on ‘Messages’ you can delete those that have been backed up to iCloud.
In “Backups,” you will find the specific device that you want to delete. Once you select this device, you will need to scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page and tap on the “Delete Backup” option.
Finish it off by tapping on “Turn Off & Delete” and your backed-up messages will be gone for good.
Step 4 – Deleting Messages Backed Up by iTunes
There are people who use iCloud for their iPhone backups, but there are also a large number of avid iTunes users who usually prefer making backups over there. If you’re one of the latter, you might also want to check your iTunes backups for unwanted messages that need deletion.
To do this, you need to open your iTunes app and go to “Preferences”. Click on “Devices” and then select the backup that needs deleting. Now click on the “Delete Backup” to set the process in motion. After this, you simply need to click on “Delete” and then confirm by clicking “OK.”
Delete Messages on Mac
If you are an Apple fan you may have multiple products. One of the things we love about Apple is the integration between devices. If you have a Mac or MacBook we’ll review how to delete text messages in this section.
To delete an entire conversation on your macOS device, do this:
- Open the messaging application on your Mac. Navigate to the message thread on the left-hand side.
- Click on the message thread and a small ‘X’ will appear. Click it.
- Click ‘Delete’ in the pop-up window that appears.
As soon as you click ‘Delete’ the entire conversation will disappear. You cannot retrieve these messages once they’re deleted so be mindful before removing entire conversations.
If you need to delete only one text message, do this:
- Open the message thread where the text is located that you’d like to delete.
- Right-click the message and click ‘Delete’ when the dropdown menu appears.
Note: Click in a blank space within the message otherwise the ‘Delete’ option will not appear.
Frequently Asked Questions
In case we didn’t answer all of your questions above, we’ve included this section. Keep reading for more information about Apple’s text messages.
Can I recover deleted messages?
This really depends on how, where, and when you deleted your messages. Although there are a lot of third-party websites that promise you they can revive your deleted messages, this really isn’t likely in some cases.
If you deleted a text from your iPhone and there was a recent backup to the iCloud, you can restore your iPhone with those deleted messages. If you deleted the messages from your iCloud there isn’t a way to get them back.
If I delete a message from my iPhone, will it also delete from my other iOS devices?
Yes, but this won’t automatically delete them from your iCloud. However, if you delete messages out of your iCloud, it’s a real possibility that they’ll also disappear from your phone.
Be mindful when deleting anything on an iOS device. As nice as it is to have everything connected through iCloud, when you make a change on one device it will affect all of your devices. You can eliminate this problem by turning off your iCloud library in the settings.
My phone’s storage is full, will deleting my messages help?
If your iPhone storage is full, it won’t allow you to update or download apps, take pictures, or even get new messages. Assuming you aren’t partial to your texts there’s nothing wrong with deleting them but comparatively speaking they’re not very large files.
If you’re looking to clean up some storage on your phone, start with videos and applications first. Removing these will free up more space than deleting all of your texts (unless you have millions of messages which is certainly possible in 2021).
How do I delete my text messages on my Apple Watch?
Unfortunately, Apple only lets us delete an entire conversation on the Apple Watch so if there’s only one message you’d like to get rid of, you’ll have to also delete them all.
To delete an entire conversation from your Apple Watch navigate to the messaging app and scroll to the message thread you’d like to delete. Then. swipe to the left. A trash can icon will appear. Tap it then confirm by tapping ‘Trash.’
As you can see, there is no need to panic, as all the messages on your iPhone can be deleted easily. This also includes messages that were part of your old backups, as well as those stored on Apple’s cloud services.