How to Recover Deleted Messages on iPhone

Feb 23, 2023 - 4 Comments

How to enable iMessage on iPhone and iPad

Have you ever deleted a message on iPhone and decided you want that deleted message back? If you have deleted messages that you’d like to retrieve, you’ll find the latest versions of iOS and iPadOS make recovering deleted text messages to be super easy on both iPhone and iPad.

As long as the deleted messages are within 30 days old, you’ll be able to find them on the iPhone or iPad to restore those deleted messages and read them again. This works to restore all messages on iPhone, whether they’re iMessages, text messages, media, photos, videos, or otherwise, as long as the message is within the Messages app on iPhone, or iPad.

The approach to retrieving deleted messages on iPhone and iPad that we will show here is done entirely on the device, it does not require you to restore the device from a backup, or use third party software.

How to Recover Deleted Messages on iPhone & iPad

Restoring deleted messages directly on iPhone or iPad is super easy, here’s all you need to do:

  1. Open the Messages app
  2. At the main conversation page, tap on “Edit” in corner
  3. How to recover deleted messages on iPhone or iPad

  4. Tap on “Show Recently Deleted”
  5. How to recover deleted messages on iPhone or iPad with the Recently Deleted recover feature

  6. Find the message threads / conversation(s) you want to retrieve and then tap on “Recover”
  7. Select which deleted messages you want to recover on iPhone or iPad

  8. Tap to confirm you want to recover the message(s)

Now if you return to the primary Messages conversation screen, you’ll find the deleted messages are available again in the list of message threads. If you had deleted a specific message from a thread, it will appear in the entire thread at the position it was in before being deleted.

The only real requirement to be able to restore deleted messages this way is to have the iPhone or iPad running a modern version of system software, versioned from iOS/iPadOS 16 or newer. Earlier versions do not have this capability available, however they may be able to recover deleted messages by restoring from old backups if you happen to have them available. That process is quite different from what is covered here and has some drawbacks however, so we’ll cover that separately in another article.

We’re demonstrating this on an iPhone here, but it works the exact same on iPad.

This is super useful if you accidentally deleted a message, or maybe you deleted a text out of an emotional response and after you’ve cooled down you have decided you want it back. It can also be useful for digital forensics, whether you’re gathering evidence or simply need a record of the deleted messages.

Remember you have 30 days after a message has been deleted to be able to restore it, though Apple mentions that you may have up to 40 days from the date of original message deletion.

Note that you can not use this feature to recover unsent messages, since those are not technically deleted.

Do you use the recover deleted text messages feature on Messages for iPhone or iPad? Do you have another approach to retrieving recently deleted messages on your iOS or iPadOS device? Let us know your experiences in the comments.


Related articles:

Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, iPhone, Tips & Tricks


» Comments RSS Feed

  1. Puja Singh says:


  2. Dave Mac says:

    On my SE (second edition) running 16.3.1 where you show an ‘Edit’ menu, is a ‘< Filters' link taking you to the Filters page. Here you can choose grouping of messages to show, All, Known Senders, Unknown Senders, Unread Messages, other menus options can appear via Apps installed, Junk and below all these is Recently Deleted.
    I didn't know about Recently Deleted, so thanks for the tip. It made me dig into the App! ^.^

  3. Don C says:

    Thanks for this tip. I use IOS 16 and went to restore a message, but since that person texts to me frequently, it wanted to restore 30 messages. Is there a way to restrict that to the most recent one?

  4. Jim Parr says:

    My new iPhone SE doesn’t show an “edit” button; instead it has “<Filters" but on the Filters page there's a button for "Deleted Messages" and then it's as you describe.

Leave a Reply


Shop on and help support OSXDaily!

Subscribe to OSXDaily

Subscribe to RSS Subscribe to Twitter Feed Follow on Facebook Subscribe to eMail Updates

Tips & Tricks


iPhone / iPad



Shop on Amazon to help support this site