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How to see deleted messages on iPhone - 4 options

Did you accidentally delete important iPhone messages? Did you also empty Recently Deleted? Don't worry. Apple has its own way to access and see deleted messages.

Lucas Seltzer Updated on Aug 22, 2023 4:22 PM

With iOS 16 or later, you can often see the deleted iPhone messages in the Recently Deleted folder within Messages app. Even if you won't be able to see recently deleted messages, third-party file recovery tool like iPhone Data Recovery is available that finds deleted texts on iPhone without restoring your device.

There are a few options to see iPhone deleted messages - Recently Deleted album, data recovery tool, iCloud or iTunes backup.

You're have trouble finding an important message on your iPhone and you guess that you may have deleted it when cleaning up Messages inbox to free up storage space. We've all been there and are eager to see deleted messages on iPhone again.

The good news is that not all hope is lost when you deleted iPhone messages accidentally because this post brings you 4 solutions on how to see deleted messages on iPhone.

Table of Contents

Can you see deleted messages on iPhone?

Yes, it's possible to read deleted messages on an iPhone.

In the past, it's not straightforward as you need to restore your iPhone from an iCloud backup or iTunes/ Finder backup that you've made before deleting messages - but you may risk at data loss.

Starting with iOS 16, seeing the deleted messages on iPhone becomes super easy. Apple devotes a small percentage of your device storage space to an album known as the Recently Deleted. This ensures that all of your deleted conversations are displayed there for 30 days. As long as they don't get permanently deleted, you can recover the complete conversation back to "All Messages" and see deleted texts on iPhone.

Assuming you have never backed up your text messages, or even you've already scoured the iOS 16 Recently Deleted album and find no text messages, that's when it's time to turn to AppGeeker iOS Data Recovery software to access and view the deleted messages on the iPhone.

How to see deleted messages on iPhone

With the iPhone updated to iOS 16 or later, simply use these steps to see deleted messages within 30 days after being deleted.

How to see recently deleted messages on iPhone

1. Go to Messages app on your iPhone.

2. Tap Edit > Show Recently Deleted. Or tap Filters > Recently Deleted.

3. Tap on Recently Deleted from the Messages folder list to access to Recently Deleted.

Recently Deleted album shows all your deleted conversations with number of messages for each contact and the days remaining before permanent deletion.

However, you can't see the message content; you need to retrieve the entire conversation to read the content.

How to retrieve deleted messages and see the complete conversations

Now that you've got the way of how to find deleted messages on iPhone, you can begin recovering texts:

1. In Recently Deleted within Messages app, tap Recover All at the at the lower right of the screen if you want to recover all messages.

2. If you just need to get back multiple messages, find the conversation(s) and tap on each dot to confirm your selections.

3. Tap Recover at the lower right of the screen.

4. Choose Recover [Number] Messages. The selected messages will be restored to "All Messages" at once. You can check your deleted messages there.

What if you can't access to deleted messages?

There're times when you're not able to see and retrieve deleted text messages on your iPhone:

  • Permanently deleted messages from Recently Deleted folder.
  • Your iPhone doesn't support iOS 16.
  • Text messages disappeared for unknown reasons.

Find and view deleted messages using 3rd-party recovery utility

Using iPhone Data Recovery program is doable and makes recovering lost or deleted text messages on iPhone not that trickier. This is true if you do not have iTunes backup for your messages, or your iPhone won't backup to iCloud.

The software is featured with a smart scan algorithm that scans around iPhone's memory, searches for deleted messages, message attachments, iMessages, and gives you a clear view to see the complete messages in the conversations. Once you've found the messages that deleted from iPhone, you could kick off the recovery process. This also works for any other data like photos, call logs, contacts, WhatsApp, notes, etc.

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Steps on finding and retrieving deleted texts on iPhone

Step 1: Connect your iPhone to your computer.

Step 2: Run iPhone Data Recovery app, and choose "Recover from iOS Device" mode.

Step 3: Click Start Scan button.

Step 4: The software is scanning your iPhone to find deleted messages and other data that are available to recover.

Step 5: Once done, click "Messages" option from the left list.

Step 6: Look at deleted messages on your iPhone that were found. You could preview the contact's name, phone number and email address. Also, you could see the whole conversation on the right pane following a click on a single message from the middle pane.

Step 7: If you'd like to see iPhone deleted text messages at any time, export them to your computer. Select the items you want and hit the Recover button at the bottom right of the window to get the messages back, saving them to the folder of your choice on your computer.

After the retrieval, you're able to check the deleted messages of iPhone in a CSV or an HTML file. Done!

A Note of iPhone Deleted Messages Recovery:

  • The effectiveness with recovery tools rests largely upon how quickly you attempt to recover messages after they have been deleted. Assuming you act quickly enough, the data won't be overwritten; instead, it's still intact and recoverable.

Video Guide:

Restore iCloud backup and see deleted text messages on iPhone

If you've turned on iCloud Backup for your iPhone, you can use the iCloud backup to restore your deleted messages and view the texts, photos, videos and other attachments in Messages app.

Here's how to see deleted messages from an iCloud backup on iPhone:

1. In your iPhone, go to Settings > General > Transfer or Reset iPhone.

2. Choose Erase All Content and Settings at the bottom. Tap Continue, enter your lock screen passcode to begin resetting your iPhone to factory settings. This may take some time to finish.

3. Once the reset completes, an Apple logo should show up on the iPhone screen. Follow the on-screen instructions to set up your device.

4. When you get to the Apps & Data screen, choose Restore from iCloud Backup.

5. Sign into your iCloud account with your Apple ID and password.

6. Select the most recent iCloud backup and restore it to access deleted messages on iPhone. Even though you can't see the texts, you can determine the backup by the date and time before deleting the text messages.

When you restore iCloud backup, not only the messages but also the contacts, photos, and anything else will be restored to your iPhone. Bear in mind that if any data is not included in the backup, it would be deleted.

Read Next: How to Factory Reset iPhone without Passcode

Retrieve and see deleted messages on iPhone with iTunes or Finder

Restoring iPhone from a computer backup via iTunes or Finder is also a feasible way. If you've already got your iPhone to backup to computer, then you're ready to retrieve iPhone messages you've lost or deleted using that backup before you can view them again. Here's how.

Tip: Restoring from iTunes backup will first erase anything on the iPhone and then restore backed-up data to the device. A file saved on your device after the time when the backup was made should lose.

  • Open iTunes on your computer. If you've backed up iPhone to Mac with macOS 10.15 or later, open Finder instead.
  • Plug your iPhone into your computer via a USB cable.
  • In iTunes, click device icon at the top left corner, and then choose Summary from the left sidebar.
  • In Finder, click on your iPhone under Locations on the left column, and then click General tab.
  • Hit Restore Backup.
  • When a dialog box appears, pick a backup with the deleted messages you want to recover, and then click Restore.
  • After the restoration is done, your text messages will appear in Messages app.

If you're not sure your backup contains those deleted messages, you could try AppGeeker iPhone Data Recovery tool, which is built with a viewer allowing you to access iTunes backup and preview your deleted iPhone text conversations prior to the recovery. You can recover just the messages rather than restoring the whole device.

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