How to Cancel Sending a Message or SMS from iPhone
If you’ve ever hit “Send” on an iMessage or text message that you wish you could take back, or perhaps you’d just like to cancel a sent picture because it’s stuck on ‘Sending’ and taking forever to send the message due to a congested network connection, then you may find this iPhone “cancel send” trick to be handy.
To be clear, this is very much a trick, because there’s no direct method to cancel sending a message from the iPhone, and it requires some quick action on the users part. Nonetheless, it absolutely does actually stop a message from being sent if you are fast enough.
The requirements for canceling a message from being sent are pretty straightforward: you can only cancel a message while it is attempting to be sent in progress. This is indicated in the Messages app by recipients name turning into “Sending…” text, and you’ll see a blue progress bar across the top of the screen. As long as “Sending…” is in progress and there is the blue progress bar visible, you can cancel sending the message, here’s how this works on iPhone (and iPad or other iOS devices too).
- From the iOS Messages app, be in the active message thread that you wish to stop a message being sent – do be aware this will apply to all messages attempting to send, however
- While the message displays “Sending…” in progress and there is a visible blue progress bar for the message trying to send, quickly flip up from the bottom of the screen to open Control Center
- Tap the Airplane icon to turn on AirPlane mode – this turns off the iPhones cellular antenna and wi-fi radio which will stop the message from being sent
- Wait a moment or two and turn AirPlane mode back off, you’ll see the Message that you canceled on will have a red warning text saying “Not Delivered” with an (!) exclamation mark, indicating the message was not sent – you successfully canceled sending the message
If you see “Not Delivered” you know it worked. If the message says “Delivered”, or nothing, it probably sent. If the “Sending…” message and status bar is still visible, you did not complete the trick properly and you’ll need to try again.
This works very well to cancel the sending of picture messages, audio messages, and video messages from an iPhone. It works less well and you have to be lightning speed to cancel a simple text message or iMessage of text, simply because the data size is smaller – with that said, if the network is slow or congested, or the reception is bad, usually even a simple message can be canceled using this same trick by quickly turning on the AirPlane mode switch.
If you’re wondering why bother and what’s the point of stopping a message from being sent, the most obvious use case scenario is this; let’s say you are on a congested cellular network, a fairly common situation for most cities at peak usage hours. You go to send someone a picture message in the middle of a conversation with your new iPhone Plus, and the image is 6MB… so you tap send and, well, now you’re stuck on “Sending…” for the next foreseeable future, and you’re unable to continue messaging with that person because all of the next messages that are sent are backlogged behind that picture, so until that sent media message clears, none of the other messages will go through. I run into this fairly often in major cities, and despite the iPhone reception indicator showing things as fine, the network is so congested that sending a picture takes an eternity – in my case it was 45 minutes to send a 5MB image before it eventually failed to send anyway. If you find yourself in that situation, just use this AirPlane trick to stop the sending of the message, then re-send the message, picture, video, or audio messages, when you’re back on a reliable wi-fi network and not at the whims of whatever the local LTE network provides.
Sure, you could also use this to cancel sending an embarrassing message sent to the wrong person, or to cancel sending a message where you put your foot in your mouth, but as mentioned, that works the best with multimedia messages. iMessage and text messages SMS are generally sent very fast, and there is usually a very short delay in sending since the transmission size is so small, so you’d either need to be super lightning fast or just live with the sent message.
For now, this is the only trick that is known to work to stop sending a message from an iPhone or iPad, and it probably works on an Android too. Until there is an “Undo Send” button to stop or cancel a message being sent, which may never happen for a variety of reasons, this is it. If you know of another way to cancel sending a message or to stop a message from being sent from the iPhone, do let us know in the comments.