How to Automatically Delete Old Messages from iPhone & iPad
Messages on iPhone and iPad can grow to take up considerable storage space over time, particularly for users who frequently send and receive multimedia on an iPhone. Each photo taken with an iPhone camera can easily consume 4MB, and movies will take up even more space, and it’s not unusual for an iPhone user to eventually wind up with several GB of messages and attachments. For users who don’t want to manage their own messages by deleting large messages, attached files, or old conversations, modern iOS versions have an option that will automatically delete old messages from your iPhone or iPad.
This is a great feature but do realize that this completely deletes the old messages from iOS, and they will not be available in a backup either. Thus, you’ll only want to do this if you’re absolutely certain you do not want to access and read older messages on your iPhone. Of course this feature is also available on iPad and iPod touch as well, but it’s likely to be more popular with iPhone users, thus the focus.
How to Enable Automatic Old Message Removal on iPhone & iPad
By default this feature is turned OFF, which means all your messages are kept on the device until manually removed. Only change this setting if you are certain you want old messages and their media attachments to be removed automatically.
- Open the Settings app in iOS and head to “Messages”
- Scroll down in the Message settings until you see “Keep Messages” and tap on that
- Select the desired option: 30 Days, 1 Year, or Forever (the default)
If you have messages older than the time you selected, you’ll see a new screen to confirm the old message removal. At the “Delete Older Messages?” panel, confirm that you want to remove all messages and their attached photos, audio, or video, that are older than the specified date.
Once this setting is turned on, the rest is handled automatically. As soon as a specific message and/or message attachment expiration period of 30 days or 1 year has reached it will be completely removed from the device.
It’s worth noting this is completely different from the automatic video removal feature in iOS that is turned ON by default for both audio and video messages, a feature which causes much more rapid expiration of multimedia content in the iOS Messages app. These two features can be used concurrently, however.
While this can be a good way to automatically manage outlandish Messages storage (which sometimes shows up as part of an enormously sized “Other” storage space in iTunes when an iOS device is connected), privacy buffs should also enjoy this feature, as it adds a layer of security to an iPhone or iPad by removing old conversations.
If you decide you don’t like this, you can always reverse this setting and go back to the iOS default of “Never” to stop the automatic message deletion.