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How to retrieve deleted iMessages without backup

Recently Deleted feature on iOS 16 lets you view iMessages deleted within 30 days. You can recover iMessages immediately without backup if any of them are found there.

Alex Griffith Updated on Jan 14, 2023 6:27 PM

To recover deleted iMessages without backup, open Messages app on iPhone, go to Edit > Recently Deleted. Then, select iMessage and conversations you want back, tap Recover. iOS will then automatically recover your deleted iMessages, no backup required from iPhone.

If you're unable to recover a deleted iMessage there and no backup available, you can always use something like iPhone Data Recovery program, which gives you ability to perform a complete scan on the device to get the deleted iMessages back without backup.

Without having to restore from backup, you can recover deleted iMessages on iOS 16 quickly.

Backing iPhone up offers a fundamental protection for your valuable data, including iMessages and threads, This way, if an iMessage is deleted, you can rest easy and recover it immediately.

But what if there's no backup to recover deleted iMessages in the usual way? iOS 16 makes it easier to find and retrieve your deleted iMessages using the baked-in Recently Deleted feature.

This article aims at aiding iPhone users when recovering deleted iMessages in the absence of a backup. Here are the 2 methods to retrieve iMessages without a backup, even your iPhone has iOS 15 or earlier that doesn't come with Recently Deleted feature.

Table of Contents

What is Recently Deleted folder?

iOS 16 introduces a built-in temporary storage area named Recently Deleted for iMessages and text messages, and it's actually pretty good. Like the same folder located in Photos app, Recently Deleted runs in the background, automatically saving iMessages that you deleted in the past 30 (40 days max) days. During the period, instead of restoring a backup that erases and resets your iPhone, now the deleted iMessages can be recovered easily with a few taps.

View your deleted history and find deleted iMessages

You can view your iMessages deleted history anytime you want on your Messages app. And if you accidentally erase regular SMS messages on your iPhone, you can check that history too.

To enter Recently Deleted folder, just open Messages app, tap Edit in the upper left corner.

Tip: If you've enabled Filter Unknown Senders in Messages settings, you may see Filter button instead. Change it by going to Settings > Messages > Unknown & Spam if required.

Then tap Recently Deleted from the drop-down menu.

The Recently Deleted list will show you all recent iMessages and SMS messages you deleted on your iPhone, along with the information about phone numbers or contacts, number of text messages as well as the days left to recover them.

However, if you want to see details of a specific iMessage or the entire thread, you will have to restore it. Once recovered, you can then read the iMessage in usual way.

Now, let's have a look at how to get into Recently Deleted folder to recover deleted iMessages without backup.

Retrieve deleted iMessages from Recently Deleted

To restore your deleted iPhone iMessages without backup, you have two ways to pick from:

If you want to recover all deleted text iMessages and text messages from the list, simply tap Recover All (see image above), and you're good to go.

If you just want to recover a few deleted iMessages from Recently Deleted folder, tap the small circles next to the iMessages you want back, then tap Recover button located in the bottom right corner. In the dialog that pops up, tap Recover [Number] Messages to confirm.

Your iMessages deleted in the last 30 days will restore and reappear on your iPhone Messages app screen. [Related: How to sync music to iPhone without iTunes]

What if there is no Recently Deleted or the folder is empty?

iOS 16 automatically wipes the iMessages from the Recently Deleted folder once the countdown reaches zero. What if you can't find your lost iMessages there?

Don't worry! Even when the Recently Deleted folder is empty, deleted iMessages aren't gone permanently from your iPhone right away and you still have chance of recovering them without backups. Technically, iOS just marks the spaces they used for "free." Before new files are added to occupy those "free" spaces, you can use an app that can read these deleted iMessages to recover them, so here you have to act fast.

iPhone Data Recovery does this very well. It's available for Mac as well as Windows users, offering 3 modes of data recovery: recover from iPhone without backup, recover from iTunes, and recover from iCloud. While running "recover from iPhone" mode, you can use its powerful scan algorithm to scan your phone storage for any deleted files, including iMessages, that are still recoverable and get them back in just a few clicks.

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Follow these steps to recover deleted iMessages without backup.

1. To recover iMessages deleted from iPhone without a backup, first open the iPhone Data Recovery application on your computer.

Its main interface looks as friendly as you could hope for. On the left menu, it lets you choose to recover data from iPhone itself, an iTunes & Finder backup, or a iCloud backup. As you don't have any backup in iCloud or iTunes to recover deleted iMessages, here select "Recover from iOS Device" to start.

2. Connect your iPhone to the computer and click "Start Scan" button (see image above) to let the program takes it time to look for deleted iMessages and other files.

Wait for the application to finish scanning. It will provide you a list of found existing and deleted files in real time.

3. Look through the list to check the scan results. All found deleted iMessages and SMS messages are sorted and located under "Messages" and "Messages Attachments" categories. You can click the folder to preview the details.

4. Once you've found the deleted iMessage conversations you want, click the small box next to them, choose the "Recover" button in the bottom right corner.

In the dialog that opens, select the directory where you want the recovered iMessage to be saved on your computer. Ideally, you should use a path that is easy to access. For this demonstration, we just use desktop.

Also see: What to do when iPhone says unavailable

FAQs about recovering iMessages without backup

Where do my iMessages go after deleting?

On iOS 15 or earlier, a simply tap of delete on an iMessage will delete it from iPhone completely. You can't recover an iMessage without backup made in iCloud or iTunes.

Start with iOS 16, however, your deleted iMessages will first send to Recently Deleted folder and keep 30 days. You can quickly recover those deleted iMessages without any backup from there during the grace period. But if the period are gone, you have to use the dedicated file recovery tool, something like Appgeeker iPhone Data Recovery to help you out.

How do I find deleted iMessages without a backup?

Follow next steps to recover deleted iMessages without backup of iPhone:

1. Open Messages app by clicking on its icon.

2. Tap Edit (or Filter) on the upper left corner.

3. Select Recently Deleted from the list.

4. Tap on the deleted iMessages that you wish to restore.

5. Choose Recover to recover your deleted iMessages to its original place on iPhone.

Can I recover deleted iMessages without iCloud?

Yes. You can now use Recently Deleted feature to retrieve deleted iMessages without using an iCloud backup. The whole restore process is simple and quick: just go to Recently Deleted folder, select the deleted iMessage threads, tap Recover button and you're off. Be sure that your iPhone is running iOS 16 or newer.

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