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How to recover iMessages on iPhone - with / without backup

Can you recover iMessages on iPhone if you've accidentally deleted them? Check out these quick answers for efficient and seamless iMessage recovery!

Jasmin Woods Updated on Dec 25, 2023 2:53 PM

Overview of iMessage Recovery on iPhone, the latest iPhone 15 and iOS 17 supported:

  • It's easy to recover deleted iMessages on iPhone with iOS 16 or later within 30 days by simply checking the Recently Deleted folder in Messages app.
  • Use an earlier backup in iCloud, iTunes or Finder to restore deleted or old iPhone iMessages.
  • Re-sync the iMessages and text messages from iCloud if they're stored there previously.
  • If all else fails, turn to iPhone Data Recovery software to scan the entire iPhone memory deeply, offering a preview and selective recovery of the deleted iMessages you want back.

This guide explores how to recover iMessages on iPhone whether they were recently or permanently deleted.

iMessage, an encrypted and instant messaging service built into iPhone's Messages app, enables users to send and receive texts, photos and videos seamlessly between Apple devices over Wi-Fi or cellular networks without charges. Even if you've accidentally deleted iMessages on your iPhone, there are a couple of options to recover them.

To get deleted iMessages back, you may initially look into the Recently Deleted folder in Messages app, or restore deleted iMessages from an iPhone backup previously created in iCloud or iTunes. Additionally, scanning the entire device memory thoroughly proves to be one of the most effective ways to find and recover iMessages on iPhone even they are permanently deleted. Read on to explore more details for iMessage recovery.

Table of contents:

How to find deleted iMessages on iPhone - iOS 16 or later

iPhones users can send iMessages in blue bubbles by enabling the feature in Settings > Messages > iMessages. In iOS 16 /17 and later, deleted iMessages are moved to the Recently Deleted folder within the Messages app, remaining for an additional 30 to 40 days. Here's how to recover deleted iMessages from iPhone Recently Deleted folder before the period expires:

1. Open the Messages app on your iPhone.

2. Tap Edit > select Show Recently Deleted from expanded list. Or press Filters > Recently Deleted on the screen if the Edit button isn't showing.

3. You'll find all messages deleted in the past 30 days. If needed, use your Face ID or passcode to unhide deleted messages in the Recently Deleted folder.

4. Choose a single or more iMessages, and tap Recover > Recover [number] Messages. To restore all deleted messages, tap the Recover All instead.

Recently deleted iMessages will either be recovered or automatically erased after 30 days. If an iMessage is deleted before updating to iOS 16 or later, you can't find or recover it in Messages folders, resulting in permanent deletion. But fortunately, the deleted data may remain in the device's internal memory, available for recovery before being replaced by new data.

How to recover deleted iMessages using iPhone Data Recovery

Whether it exceeds 30 days or you don't have iOS 16 or later, iPhone Data Recovery excels at retrieving almost everything, even without backups, seamlessly recovering deleted iMessages from an iPhone or iPad with clicks. It's extremely easy to use — just connect iPhone to computer, scan it completely and then you're able to restore iMessages, texts and other files it found.

This iPhone message recovery tool also includes a backup extractor that lets you preview and retrieve iMessages from iTunes backup without restoring the entire device to an earlier state, avoid overwriting of current data.

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Here's how to recover deleted iMessages and texts on iPhone without backup:

Step 1: Choose Recovery Mode

To restore messages and iMessages from your iPhone, open the software on a PC or Mac and choose Recover from iOS Device mode from left menu.

recover deleted iMessages without backup

Step 2: Connect and scan your iPhone

Make sure your device is connected to your computer; click the Start Scan button to begin a direct and deep scan on the device.

recover deleted iMessages without backup

Step 3: View deleted iMessages

When the scan is done, both existing and deleted iMessages, SMS and MMS texts will list in the scanning results. You can preview all found texts, including the name, phone number, chat history, message attachments, and conversation date.

Step 4: Recover iMessages and export to a file on computer

Choose the desired iMessages for recovery and click Recover button to save the files elsewhere on your computer. The retrieved iMessages will be exported as HTML or CSV files, enabling easy viewing and printing.

A step-by-step video tutorial about how to recover deleted iMessages

It also supports the recovery of deleted iMessages on iPhone 15 series and the latest iOS 17 & iPadOS 17.

How to restore iMessages from iCloud

For iMessages deleted from the iPhone over 30 days, Apple offers an additional swift and free method to recover iPhone iMessages — if your device has been backed up with iCloud or iTunes / Finder before the iMessages were deleted.

Recover iMessages from iCloud backup

If you've previously backed up your iPhone to iCloud, all data, including the messages you deleted thereafter, will be archived in that iCloud backup. Therefore, you can directly restore iMessages from iCloud to your iPhone using that old backup.

Follow these steps below for deleted iMessage recovery from iCloud:

  • Tap the Settings icon on iPhone and go to General.
  • Choose Transfer or Reset iPhone > Erase All Content and Settings.
  • If asked, enter your passcode or Apple ID password to continue.
  • Wait for your device to erase all data and restart
  • Go through the setup prompts till you arrive in Transfer Your Apps & Data screen.
  • Tap From iCloud Backup and sign in to iCloud. You'll find a list of available backup archives.
  • Select the iCloud backup predating the deletion of your iMessages.
  • Your iPhone will be restored from the chosen iCloud backup.

Once done, the iMessages will be restored to your iPhone and re-appear in Messages app. Be aware that the entire device is restored to the state captured in that backup. Any data & changes made after that backup date will be overwritten, leading to potential loss of your recent data.

Re-download iMessages from iCloud Messages

If you have no previous backups of your iPhone, try re-syncing data from iCloud Messages to restore lost iMessages conversations. Since iOS 11.4, the Messages in iCloud allows for real-time syncing and updates of all iMessages and text messages across all your Apple devices under the same Apple ID. If you delete an iMessages accidentally, you can turn off iCloud syncing to re-download iMessages and SMS texts to your iPhone.

Here's how to recover deleted iMessages without backup from iCloud Messages:

  • Move to Settings > [your name] > iCloud.
  • Disable Messages option in the list by toggling it off.
  • In the prompted box, tap Disable and Download Messages.
  • Enable the Messages again. Your iPhone will download all text messages and iMessages synced with iCloud before the deletion.

How to restore deleted iMessages from iTunes backup

Another deleted iMessages recovery option is to use the Restore Backup feature within iTunes and Finder. If you've created an older iPhone backup in iTunes containing the iMessages you accidentally deleted, you can easily retrieve them from the backup.

Note: Restoring iMessages from iTunes backup will also erase the iPhone and replace all its current data with the old backup.

  • Open iTunes on macOS Mojave 10.14 or earlier, or on a Windows PC. Alternatively, launch Finder on macOS Catalina 10.15 or later.
  • Link your iPhone to computer using a USB data cable. If asked, tap Trust This Computer.
  • Click the phone icon when it shows up at the toolbar of iTunes or Finder window.
  • Go to Summary tab in iTunes (or General tab in Finder) > Backups > Restore Backup.
  • In the pop-up window, choose the most relevant backup that holds the deleted iMessages.
  • Click Restore.

The deleted iPhone iMessages and text messages will be restored to the Messages app on your device and show up in the conversion list again.

Extract and restore iMessages from iTunes backup without data loss

If you prefer selectively recovering deleted iMessages from an iTunes backup without restoring all content, use the iPhone Data Recovery application to scan the iTunes backup, preview individual iPhone messages, and choose specific iMessages for recovery.

  • Initiate the software on computer and choose Restore from iTunes Backup File.
  • Let it automatically list all useful iTunes backups stored on your computer.
  • Choose the backup that is created before the iMessage deletion.
  • Click the Start button to scan everything included in that iTunes backup.
  • Check the Messages tab from the left menu list.
  • Preview the messages and select the ones you want to retrieve.
  • Hit the Recover button.

Recover deleted iPhone iMessages and text messages from iTunes backup without data loss.

FAQs for iMessage recovery on iPhone

Q1 - Can deleted iMessages be recovered?

Yes. iPhone users can recover iMessages, texts and conversations that are deleted within 30 up to 40 days. However, if you delete messages before you update to iOS 16 or later, you can't recover the deleted messages unless using a previous iTunes / iCloud backup or employing a powerful data recovery software for iOS.

Q2 - Can I recover deleted iMessages on my iPhone without a backup?

Yes. The Recently Deleted folder in iPhone Messages app allows you to recover recently deleted iMessages within 30 days, while various third-party tools, such as iPhone Data Recovery software, offers the option to recover permanently deleted iMessages and text messages on an iPhone or iPad.

Q3 - Is there a way to retrieve deleted messages on iPhone with iOS 15 or older?

If the iOS device is not updating to iOS 16, iPadOS 16 or later, there's no Recently Deleted folder for deleted message recovery. To recover deleted messages on iOS 15 or earlier, you'll need an iPhone backup created in iTunes, Finder or iCloud previously. Additionally, using a 3rd-party tool can be more efficient to recover iPhone messages without using a backup or restoration.

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