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iMessages disappeared. Why and how to restore iMessages to iPhone

The guide walks you through all the steps you can take to fix iMessage disappearing messages and get those iMessages returned to iPhone.

Ella Garcia Updated on May 17, 2024 6:54 PM

If iMessage is missing threads, it can feel like a big problem - you could be losing the important messages, pictures, or attachments. There are several reasons why your iMessages disappeared on iPhone - from automatic iOS update, improper settings deleting older iMessages, full iPhone storage, to iCloud backup restore.

In this article, we look at the causes and offer straightforward troubleshooting tips to fix iPhone disappearing iMessages, as well as find out the recovery solutions to get disappeared iMessages back to iPhone's Messages app without any hassle. We've also covered text messages disappeared from iPhone.

Tip: A more efficient way is to try iPhone Data Recovery tool, which is able to scan the internal storage of iPhone, and tell you if the disappeared iMessages are still in the phone or are really gone. If exist, retrieve the conversations in no time. You can skip to this part below and learn how to use the software.

If you've lost entire iMessage history from iPhone, don't be frustrated, here's how to help it reappear.

Table of Contents

Why did iMessages disappear (messages, photos, attachments)?

When iMessages disappear from the iPhone, it can manifest in a few ways:

  • iMessage is disappearing messages
  • iMessages photos not showing
  • iMessages attachments not showing
  • iMessages not loading old messages

In general, you can narrow down the iMessages missing error to one of five key issues:

Glitch 1- Buggy iOS update

This is the most common reason that causes iMessage threads to disappear for go is a buggy software update. An iOS update may lead to data loss on iPhone, as well as some bugs stopping apps from working properly.

Glitch 2- Incorrect settings for older messages retaining

If you find old iMessages are not loading, then it possible that the setting for Keep Messages is faulty. iPhone will auto-delete the older text messages and iMessages in a certain period of time depending on how long your iPhone is set to keep them: 30 days, 1 year, or forever.

Glitch 3- Misconfigured settings for iMessages

Sometimes it seems to be random errors for iMessage service making your iMessages invisible in the inbox.

Glitch 4- Full iPhone storage

If you've synced iMessages with iCloud, and then would like to download them to Messages app only to find that your iPhone storage gets full, iMessage threads will not load completely, with the texts, images, videos or attachments missing randomly.

Glitch 5- Accidentally deletion of iMessages

iMessages might have been mistakenly deleted from the inbox, and then gone missing from the Recently Deleted folder after 30 days. Or even worse, you permanently deleted the iMessage conversations from the Recently Deleted folder.

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5 fixes for iMessages disappearing from iPhone

All in good troubleshooting articles one essential piece of advice is to restart your iPhone, which will refresh the software running on the background and fix whatever's gone wrong. Performing a force-quit & restart on Messages app may be also a quick fix for the issues with iMessages disappearing. If your disappeared messages in iMessage won't return, proceeding to more fixes.

1. Keep messages forever

Regarding old iMessages gone, a setting could need adjusting. There's a "Keep Messages" option in Settings allowing you to choose a duration time to keep the messages, in an attempt to prevent them from disappearing.

  • Open Settings app.
  • Scroll down and tap on Messages.
  • Look for Message History and tap Keep Messages.
  • Select Forever to retain all iMessage thread history.

Note: Setting Keep Messages to 30 days or 1 year will get older iMessages deleted as long as the duration time has passed.

If you're tracked in the problem with iPhone iMessages disappearing but Keep Messages always been set to Forever, try to Reset All Settings in Settings > General > Transfer or Reset iPhone > Reset.

2. Turn iMessage off and back on

To check if iMessages disappearance is due to the malfunction of the iMessages service itself, switch off and on iMessage. If the lost iMessage history could be restored to Messages app, your problem is probably solved.

  • In Settings, tap Messages.
  • Slide the toggle for iMessage to OFF.
  • After a few seconds, enable iMessage for activation.

3. Turn off Messages in iCloud and then back on

Another addressing solution is to reactivate Messages in iCloud. This refreshes the syncing process and resolve the issue with iMessages disappearing on iPhone and load the iMessages completely. To do this:

  • On your iPhone, tap Settings > [your name] > iCloud.
  • Head to APPS USING ICLOUD, tap Show All.
  • Choose Messages in iCloud.
  • Switch off the toggle next to Use on this iPhone.
  • When prompted, select Disable and Download Messages.
  • Wait for a while and switch on the Use on this iPhone option.

4. Update your iPhone to latest iOS version

Although a malfunctioning OS update might be one of the root causes when it comes to missing iMessages on iPhone in iOS 17 or whatever, you need to make sure your iPhone is updated to the most recent iOS version that it supports.

5. Make sure iPhone has enough storage space

To make iMessages load completely to message list, make sure your iPhone is not running out of space. You can reduce the size of your iMessages library by deleting unnecessary conversations that have a lot of photos and videos, or enabling Low-Quality Image Mode in Settings > Messages to send low-res images, which take up less space, or remove any app or content from iPhone that you don't need any more.

How to get back disappeared iMessages to iPhone

In addition to just implementing simple fixes for the missing iMessages issue, you can take more actions to recover disappeared iMessage history on iPhone, including message, photos, audio messages, and attachments.

Option 1- Check for Recently Deleted folder

The direct way is to find disappeared iMessages in Recently Deleted folder, especially you've deleted the iMessage history accidentally or intentionally.

The downside is that this method is only for iOS 16 or later built with Recently Deleted folder, and the messages were deleted in the last 30 days.

Option 2- Retrieve missing iMessages without backup

Before you move ahead to restore the disappeared iMessages from iCloud backup - which will overwrite other data on the device, it's essential to check if iMessages are potentially hidden in the iPhone database.

The trick is to run iPhone Data Recovery on your Windows PC or Mac, connect your iPhone using USB cable and kick off a full scan. The scanning results should load your missing iMessage threads completely, letting you know you're able to recover them.

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for Windows | for MacOS

To get disappeared messages back with iPhone Data Recovery utility, follow these simple instructions:

  • Launch the software, and choose Recover from iOS Device mode.
  • Plug your iPhone to the computer via a USB cable.
  • When it's detected, click Start Scan button.
  • Wait for the application to do a thorough scan around iPhone's memory and find the old disappeared iMessages.
  • Once completed, choose Messages from the sidebar to reveal all the recoverable messages and attachments that you think they're gone.
  • You can find the old deleted iMessages by name and date, as well as preview the texts and messages attachments disappearing from an iMessage thread.
  • Select the iMessages you'd like to recover.
  • Hit Recover button. Done!
  • Related Article: How to Recover Deleted Data on iPhone without Backup

Option 3- Restore disappeared iMessages from iCloud

If you have enabled iCloud Backup for your iPhone and your iMessages were disappeared since the last backup, you stand a good chance of restoring the missing messages from iCloud backup. Check last successful backup via Settings > Apple ID > iCloud > iCloud Backup. You'd better turn off Back Up this iPhone option temporarily to avoid an automatic backup replacing the previous iCloud backup containing the lost iMessages.

To get back disappeared iMessages to your iPhone, navigate to Settings > General > Transfer or Reset iPhone > Erase All Content and Settings, then enter your passcode or Apple ID password to confirm to take your iPhone back to its factory condition.

After that, set up your iPhone and pick your iCloud backup to restore the iMessages to Messages app. Note that all new data and settings will be lost, though.

Option 4- Restore iTunes backup to get disappeared iMessages

Chances are iMessages have been backed up before disappeared using iTunes. Now try to restore your iPhone with iTunes backup so the iMessages come back to message list.

Connect your iPhone your computer that is used to backup the device. Open iTunes or Finder, locate your iPhone, and press Restore backup button. Then, choose an iTunes backup to retrieve missing iMessages instantly.

Keep in mind that, restoring iTunes backup will have your iMessages thread back, but you will lose other data that's not in that backup - it's an all or nothing process. Plus, you won't be able to preview iTunes backup or see your conversation before restoring. Take it easy; AppGeeker's iPhone Data Recovery program comes in handy and gives you access to iTunes backup and restores just messages instead of entire iPhone.

How to prevent iMessages from disappearing

So this is all about "why did my iMessages disappear" and how to get back all iMessages and attachments that have been disappeared from iPhone. To ensure that your valuable iMessage threads do not disappear, and your iPhone do not delete any older iMessage automatically:

  • Configure Keep Messages option to Forever to avoid an auto-deletion. You can find the feature in in Settings > Messages.
  • Always back up iPhone data prior to iOS update, iCloud syncing, or device restoring.
  • Always make sure iPhone has enough space to loading messages.

Bonus tips for disappeared iMessage

iMessage photos not showing. How to fix it?

If photos are not loading on iMessages, here are a few things you could try:

1- Turn off iMessage for a few minutes and restart it through Settings > Messages > iMessage.

2- Update your iPhone to the latest iOS version.

3- Connect your iPhone to Wi-Fi or cellular data network.

4- Free up storage of iPhone.

5- Reset all settings.

How to sign back into iMessage?

To sign out of iMessages:

  • In Settings, tap Messages.
  • Choose Send & Receive.
  • Look for your Apple ID at the bottom and tap on it.
  • Choose Sign Out.

To sign into your Apple ID on iMessages:

  • In Settings, tap Messages.
  • Choose Send & Receive
  • Select "Use your Apple ID for iMessages".
  • Enter your Apple ID and password to log in.

How to send an invisible iMessages?

You can send Invisible Ink messages or iMessages on iPhone, making the message content disappear from any other. Owner needs to tap on the message to read it. The Invisible Ink works with pictures messages as well.

  • Open a new message.
  • Insert the information or photo you want to send.
  • Tap and hold the Send button on the right.
  • Select Invisible Ink option.
  • Tap Send button again and a disappeared message has been sent.
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