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How to recover deleted text messages without backup or PC

On iOS 16, you don't have to rely on backup to recover text messages that you accidentally deleted on your iPhone. Here's how to retrieve deleted messages without backup.

Alex Griffith Updated on Jan 14, 2023 6:26 PM

Summary: Messages app in iOS 16 or later comes with its Recently Deleted folder that acts a temporary holding bay for text messages and iMessages you deleted on iPhone in the past 30 days. Without a backup, you can easily recover deleted messages from there.

However, if you fail to see the deleted text messages in the folder and recover them into the Messages app, or there is no backup to retrieve deleted texts, you can also enlist the aid of third-party software, something like iPhone Data Recovery, to try scanning the phone memory deeply to recover deleted text messages on iPhone without backup involved.

You no longer have to use a backup to restore iPhone to recover a deleted text message and iMessage in iOS 16.

Deleting a single message or thread is simple with your finger, but recovering the texts that you deleted accidentally is more challenging. In iOS 15 or earlier, you can't use iCloud or iTunes to recover your deleted text messages without a backup of iPhone ready before.

Thanks to iOS 16, iPhone has made it easier to retrieve deleted text messages without needing backups, through the use of a built-in feature called Recently Deleted.

In this post, we'll first show you where to look this folder and recover deleted messages you need from there. If you can't view the deleted messages in the folder, fear not. There're several other ways to help you recover deleted texts on iPhone, even you don't have a backup available.

Table of Contents

How do I check if I have an iPhone backup or not

Apple offers its backup services to back up iOS devices. If you're backing up your iPhone, verifying your backups is a simple process.

On iCloud: Head to Settings > [Apple ID profile] > iCloud > iCloud Backup. If you enable "Back Up This iPhone" option, your device gets backed up automatically. You can also check the timestamp next to Last successful backup.

On iTunes: Open iTunes app, click Edit > Preferences > Device. In the Device Backups box, you will see a list of backups, along with dates when you created them.

On Finder: Once your iPhone is connecting to Finder on Mac, click Manage Backups in Backups section to view a report listing all the backup files that were made before.

Can I retrieve deleted text messages on iPhone without backup

To recover a delete message without iCloud or Finder backup, you can open Messages app and view the Recently Deleted folder to check if it stays there. If yes, you can then restore it with a simple tap of Recover button. Also, be sure that your iPhone has iOS 16 version or later.

The Recently Deleted feature, which is essentially the same as the Trash bin on your Mac, allows users to quickly recover any deleted text messaged that were deleted in Messages app with just a few taps. Any messages or conversations you deleted on iPhone are automatically stored in that folder for 30 days. Once you change your mind, you can go there and get your deleted text messages back easily to iPhone, no backup required.

You can also use a third-party tool such as Appgeeker iPhone Data Recovery to scan the device memory to find deleted texts without backup ready if the Recently Deleted folder is empty.

Where to review Recently Deleted folder?

Start with iOS 16, all of your text messages you recently deleted can be found in the Messages app through Recently Deleted folder.

1. Open Messages app. Again, you have iOS 16 version or later.

2. Click Edit at the top left corner.

3. In Messages page, you will see a new Recently Deleted folder located under Unread Messages folder. Tapping it you will see all your texts and conversations that are deleted within the last 30 days.

In iOS 16 or later, you can get back deleted messages without backup.

Recover your deleted text messages in Recently Deleted folder (iOS 16 or later)

With Recently Deleted folder, you now have 30 days to recover message conversations you deleted in the Messages app. This can be handy especially if you have no backup found anywhere.

To undelete text messages you still want to keep in Messages app on your iPhone and have them recovered to the message list:

  • Tap Edit in the Messages app.
  • Select Recently Deleted.
  • Tap Recover All at the bottom right. This will restore all the deleted conversations and messages and return them to the list with the rest of your Messages.
  • Or, tap the text messages you want to retrieve to select them, then tap Recover.
  • In the pop-up that appears, tap Recover [Number] Messages.

A text message deleted within 30 days can be recovered without backup in Messages app for iOS 16.

Related article: How to fix an unavailable iPhone

Recover deleted messages from iPhone without backup by scanning the device

Nothing found in Recently Deleted? There is still one hope for recovering deleted texts without backup by searching for the iPhone storage. A deleted item still can be recoverable with a professional file recovery tool as long as it has not been overwritten on the device memory. So the faster you act from the time you realize it was deleted by mistake, the better will be the chances of recovering it.

Our favorite is Appgeeker iPhone Data Recovery. It carries a powerful search engine that enables you to scan every section of your phone memory thoroughly and deeply, and return a list of deleted files sorted by sensible categories. You can then preview them before complete recovery.

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To recover deleted text messages without backup available on iPhone, follow these steps:

Step 1: Connect the iPhone to computer

Download and install the software on your computer. It doesn't matter you use a PC or Mac.

Launch it and connect your iPhone with a USB cable.

Step 2: Let iPhone Data Recovery software to scan the device

Once connected, click the "Start Scan" button at the bottom center to begin scanning process. This will take a bit of time, especially you have a large amount of data on the phone, so just let it do its thing.

Once completed, you can click the "Messages" and "Messages Attachments" categories in the left menu. It shows you all deleted messages that are found, plus attachments files such as photos, link, videos, emoji. If you want to see the full text threads, just check the right section of the window.

Step 3: Recover deleted text messages after preview

Go through and check the boxes next to the messages you'd like to get back. If you know you want them all, just check the box next to Name at the top.

With your deleted text messages selected, click on the "Recover" button at the bottom right. Then select a location where you want them to be saved when a dialog box pops up.

Done! You have successfully recovered the messages from iPhone without using a backup. Couldn't be easier.

Contact your wireless phone company

This is your last chance to get back text messages on iPhone without backup. You can try asking your wireless phone company to provide the phone record to you, which might includes the text message data if you are still within the window of time.

Just one note – wireless phone company don't actually have any record of iMessage, which is what Apple to Apple devices use and adopts end-to-end encryption. If they don't not retain in Recently Deleted folder, you will want to recover deleted iMessages without backup by searching for your iPhone internal memory.


Still have problem about iPhone messages recovery without backup? Check the FAQs below.

Are deleted text messages really gone permanently?

Starting with iOS 16, iPhone sends the messages you deleted to Recently Deleted folder instead of immediately erasing from your device. You can find the folder in the Messages app, under the Unread Messages box. To recover a deleted message from it, simply tap on it and select Recover.

How can I recover permanently deleted text messages from my iPhone without a backup?

If you don't have backup and the text messages are erased permanently, you will want to first check the Recently Deleted album in the Messages app. If you're lucky, you can restore them:

1. Open Messages app, and tap Edit to go back to Messages screen.

2. Tap Recently Deleted.

3. Choose which deleted messages you want to restore, then tap Recover in the bottom right.

4. Tap Recover [Number] Messages.

You can also use a file recovery solution like Appgeeker iPhone Data Recovery to recover deleted text messages that are not in the Recently Deleted folder. It doesn't required having a backup.

How to find deleted messages on iPhone without iCloud

If you have not backed up your iPhone to iCloud before, you may go to the Recently Deleted folder to check if there still retains your lost messages. If not, it's still have great chance to recover deleted text without iCloud backup through the message recovery software.

We recommend Appgeeker iPhone Data Recovery to handle the job. Your deleted text messages might still hide in the phone storage that are recoverable.

1. Download and install iPhone Data Recovery.

2. Connect your iPhone to your computer and run the software.

3. Click Start Scan to searching for deleted text messages.

4. Once the software finished scanning the phone, browse through the results and pick the deleted texts you want to recover.

Also see: How to transfer videos from PC to iPhone with or without iTunes

Can you recover deleted text messages without restoring a backup?

No. Apple doesn't allow you to get deleted text messages back without restoring from a backup if you use iCloud or Finder and iTunes to recover your iPhone, which puts your device into its factory settings and erases existing content. To restore texts using iCloud:

  • Open Settings, and tap General.
  • Scroll down until you find Transfer or Reset iPhone, tap it.
  • Tap Erase Now.
  • Set up your iPhone until you arrive in App & Data screen.
  • Choose Restore from iCloud Backup.
  • Sign in to iCloud account and retrieve your deleted messages with a backup.

How do I access iTunes backup without restoring my iPhone?

You can use Appgeeker iPhone Data Recovery to access your iTunes or Finder backup, and just extract the texts you need without restoring the iPhone.

1. Run iPhone Data Recovery.

2. Connect your iPhone to the computer.

3. Select Recover from iTunes Backup File.

4. View the backed up text messages in the list and extract what you want.

Can I retrieve deleted iPhone texts without backup or computer?

You don't need a backup or computer to recover text messages deleted on iPhone with the help of Recently Deleted feature, a new folder that is embedded in Messages app to help you keep recent deleted text messages for up to 30 days. Retrieving deleted iPhone messages without backup or computer using Recently Deleted only works when your iPhone is running iOS 16 or newer version.

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