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How to retrieve deleted iMessages without backup

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

Lucas Seltzer Updated on Mar 11, 2024 6:38 PM

Accidentally deleted an iMessage conversation on iPhone without them being backed up. Is it possible to retrieve deleted iMessages without iTunes or iCloud backup and what are the strategies for the recovery?

Without having to restore from iPhone backup, you can recover deleted iMessages in iOS 16 quickly for free.

Loss or deletion of iMessages is bound to happen, and it's easy to get them back by restoring your iPhone from iCloud backup or from iTunes/Finder backup. What if you don't have iPhone backup? Worry not, there are several ways you can take to recover deleted iMessages from iPhone without backup.

For iMessages recovery without a backup, you can find and restore the conversations you deleted in the last 30 days through Recently Deleted folder, which works for iOS 16 or later. The ultimate option is to use something like iPhone Data Recovery program, which gives you ability to perform a complete scan on the device (regardless of your iOS version) to recover the deleted iMessages without a backup. You'll also learn the steps to effectively restore your iMessages history to your iPhone without using a backup or a computer.

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Can you recover deleted iMessages when there's no backup?

YES, you're able to retrieve iMessages you deleted before, and you didn't back up the iMessages.

When the old iMessages got deleted, iOS 16 Messages Recently Deleted folder will automatically save those removed iMessages for 30 days (40 days max.) During the period, instead of relying on a backup that erases and restores your iPhone, you can go to Recently Deleted folder and see the deleted iMessages and restore them to Message list for free.

If your iPhone has iOS 15 or earlier that doesn't come with Recently Deleted feature, recovering deleted iMessages is still possible. The iMessages conversations that you deleted accidentally are not gone instantly; they remain on the phone memory until they got overwritten by new data. As soon as you realize you've removed iMessages from iPhone by mistake, you should stop using your device to reduce the risk of them being overwritten, then you could recover the hidden/ invisible iMessages by finding them through iPhone's internal storage.

Read on to know how to recover old deleted iMessages without backup or without computer, in an attempt to salvage your important message data from accidental deletion, iOS update, iOS restore, or loss for no reason.

Retrieve deleted iMessages without any backup via Recently Deleted

iOS 16 introduces a built-in temporary storage area named Recently Deleted for iMessages and text messages, making it easier to find and retrieve your deleted iMessages in the absence of a backup free. The thing is that the Recently Deleted folder keeps deleted iMessages for no more than 30 days, and once the countdown reaches zero, iOS 16 automatically wipes the iMessages from Recently Deleted.

How to see deleted iMessages?

Here are the painless steps to retrieve recently deleted iMessages or conversations without a backup or a computer - using the Recently Deleted feature in the Messages app, only if they're still in the 30-day period for recovery.

Tip: This works for recovering deleted text messages on iPhone, too.

1. Open up Messages app on the iPhone. The Recently Deleted folder has been added to iPhone running iOS 16 or later iOS versions.

2. Tap Edit at the upper-left corner of the conversation list. 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.

3. Choose Show Recently Deleted. The Recently Deleted folder retains recent iMessages and SMS messages you erased on your iPhone, along with the information about phone numbers or contacts, number of text messages as well as the days left to restore them.

Note: Recently Deleted feature doesn't allow users to view the certain texts within the iMessage; you will have to restore the entire conversation.

4. You're ready to recover your deleted iMessages from Recently Deleted folder:

  • To get back all deleted iMessages, tap Recover All at the bottom right of the screen.
  • To recover a few deleted iMessages or conversations, 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 should restore and reappear on your iPhone Messages app screen. [Related: How to sync music to iPhone without iTunes]

Recover deleted iMessages on iPhone without backup via an iOS data recovery tool

What if your iMessages were removed permanently? How can you recover permanently deleted iMessages without backup?

Perhaps you manually erase all iMessages from Recently Deleted, or the folder automatically removes the recently deleted iMessages after 30 days. Maybe there's no Recently Deleted folder in your Messages app due to older iOS version. Whatever your situations, you still have chance of retrieving iMessages without backups.

Even iTunes or iCloud cannot restore deleted iMessages without backup, then the strategy is to use an app like iPhone Data Recovery, which can find those deleted iMessages potentially in the iPhone's memory.

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The software uses its powerful scan algorithm to scan your phone storage for any deleted files, including iMessages, messages, photos, contacts, notes etc., that are still recoverable and get them back to the iPhone in just a few clicks. You're able to recover your iMessages from accidental deletion, faulty iOS update, or other data loss scenario.

How to find deleted iMessages on iPhone without iCloud?

Follow the step-by-step guide to recover lost iMessages without a backup. It's pretty easy.

1. First run the iPhone Data Recovery application on your computer (Windows & MacOS.)

The 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 an iCloud backup.

2. Select Recover from iOS Device to start, as you don't have any backup in iCloud or iTunes to recover deleted iMessages.

3. Connect your iPhone to the computer via a lightning cable.

4. 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 data in real time, and All found deleted iMessages and SMS messages are sorted and located under "Messages" and "Messages Attachments" categories on the left pane.

5. Click on "Messages" to find and view your deleted iMessages. The contact name, texts, photos, attachments are visible.

6. Once you've found the deleted iMessage conversations you wish to restore, 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 retrieved iMessage to be saved on your computer. Ideally, you should use a path that is easy to access.

Also see: What to do when iPhone says unavailable

How to restore deleted iMessages without backup or computer

This involves iCloud Messages, which is turned on by default and used to sync text messages and iMessages across all devices sharing with the same Apple ID. So when you deleted or lost iMessages from iPhone Messages app, the deletion may not be fully synced with other Apple devices, then it's time to restore iMessages.

Note: Make sure Messages in iCloud has been enabled before deleting iMessages.

Option 1: Retrieve recently deleted iMessages from other iOS devices or Mac

First, check for deleted iMessages on other devices. You'll need to log into an iPhone, iPad, or a Mac you have using the same Apple ID and password. Then, open Messages app and look through the conversation list to see if your deleted iMessages are still there. If yes, the deletion of iMessages on your iPhone is not synced and there's great chance of recovering old iMessages to iPhone without backup or computer. Next,

  • Go to Settings on your iPhone.
  • Tap [your name] > iCloud.
  • Tap Show All under APPS USING ICLOUD.
  • Choose Messages.
  • Turn off the toggle for Sync this iPhone.
  • Select Disable and Download Messages when a notification pops up.
  • Wait for a few seconds and toggle on the Sync this iPhone switch to download iMessages from iCloud server to the iPhone.

This way your deleted iMessages should be retrieved to Messages list.

Option 2: Restore iMessages without computer

If you don't have a computer to backup your iPhone, but ever enabled iCloud backup before iMessages got lost or deleted, then it's likely to recover permanently deleted iMessages history without computer. You just restore the most recent iCloud backup, though this will reset your device and erase data & settings.

Go and verify if an iCloud backup is available in Settings > [your name] > iCloud > iCloud backup. If you could see your last backup, then do the following to restore your iPhone and retrieve deleted iMessage without the help of a computer.

  • In Settings, tap General > Transfer or Reset iPhone.
  • Select Erase All Content and Settings at the bottom.
  • Tap on Continue, and enter your Apple ID password to start erasing your phone.
  • Wait for the device to restart, and start to set it up again.
  • Once you see Transfer Your Apps & Data, choose From iCloud Backup.
  • Fill in your Apple ID password to log into your iCloud account for the backups.
  • Select the most recent backup that was made prior to deleting the iMessages, and the restore begins automatically in a way to get the conversations to the Messages app.

How to recover iMessages without iCloud

The obvious ways are to use Recently Deleted feature or AppGeeker iPhone Data Recovery software to restore deleted iMessages without using iCloud. But in case you have an iPhone backup in iTunes or Finder where contains the iMessages that were deleted or disappeared, you could also use it to factory reset your whole iPhone and extract the data.

Step 1. Run iTunes or Finder.

Step 2. Attach your iPhone with your computer through a USB cable.

Step 3. Locate your iPhone in iTunes/ Finder window.

Step 4. Click Restore Backup.

Step 5. Pick a recent backup and hit Restore.

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