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How to retrieve deleted text messages on iPhone [6 options]

Lucas Seltzer Updated on Oct 25, 2022 2:46 PM

Lost or accidentally deleted important text messages on your iPhone? We don't blame you. It's usually possible to recover deleted texts on iPhone as long as you act quickly. Here's how each simple way works and when it's likely to get back those messages.

Messages in iPhone is an excellent platform for sending and receiving SMS text messages and iMessages, engaging with texts, pics, videos, GIFs, emoji and more. Keeping old text messages can be an interesting source of nostalgia and memory-triggering for many of us, and most of time, we will want to save the old conversations forever by backing up to iCloud or iTunes (Finder) instead of deleting them.

But sometimes, Messages app automatically deletes the messages after a certain period of time (30 days or 1 year). Or you may accidentally delete a text message or iMessages on your iPhone or even delete some texts to free up space, and now you need it back. Unlike Photos app, there's no Recently Deleted folder for the deleted text messages.

All is not lost! There are great chances and potential solutions you can retrieve deleted texts on iPhone, as well as the corresponding text message attachments (like photos):

1. If you have a backup of the phone made before you've deleted the text accidentally, you're able to recover deleted text messages by restoring from iCloud backup or iTunes backup.

2. You're supposed to retrieve your deleted text from SQLite database via a special and safe data recovery software option, like iPhone Data Recovery.

3. You phone carrier might keep your text messages for a limited time frame. Contact the provider to see if it helps recover SMS messages.

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Read through each method.

Recover deleted messages: using iCloud backup

If you're relying on iCloud to back up your phone before the texts were deleted, the first option is restore from that iCloud backup. Make sure you didn't enable Messages in iCloud feature in Settings, or the messages are not backed up to iCloud and they should be gone forever once you delete them from Messages inbox - We will also explain this later.

To get started, go to check to see if you have an iCloud backup made before you deleted the important messages on iPhone.

Step 1: Open Settings app.

Step 2: Tap [your name] > iCloud > Manage Storage > Backup.

Step 3: Tap on your iPhone and check if the last backup includes the deleted text messages you want to retrieve.

If the old backup is containing the old messages, proceed to erase your iPhone and restore it. Be aware that a full restore of iCloud backup will overwrite any data you've added to the phone since the backup was made, not just the deleted SMS.

Step 1: In Settings, go to General > Reset.

Step 2: Tap Erase All Content and Settings.

Step 3: Your phone restores to factory settings and prompts you to set it up. In Apps & Data screen, choose Restore from iCloud Backup.

Step 4: Sign in iCloud and choose the backup since before deleting the texts to begin restoring it to the device.

How Can I Retrieve Deleted Texts Messages from iPhone without a Computer

Once you've completed these steps, you should restore the text to iPhone and photo attachments back into the text message chain where they originally were embedded.

Retrieve deleted texts: from iCloud without overwriting iPhone

Depending on your country and phone service provider, iCloud backs up SMS, and those lost text conversations can be recovered to the phone without having to overwrite any data on the phone. To do this:

Step 1: Go to iCloud.com and sign into it with your Apple ID and password.

Step 2: Click Text Messages to access the text messages in iCloud backup. If you can't see the option this way, skip to next method.

Step 3: Find the messages you need back.

Step 4: Now in your phone, tap Settings > [your name] > iCloud.

Step 5: Turn off Messages, and tap Keep on My iPhone when prompted.

Step 6: Turn Messages back on.

Step 7: Tap Merge and wait for the messages downloading to the iPhone.

Retrieve deleted text on iPhone: from iTunes backup (Finder)

Instead of backing up to iCloud when your old messages are lying around in the Messages app, you may have an iTunes backup or Finder backup (if you're using macOS Catalina or later). If you do, you stand a better chance of recovering deleted SMS messages from iPhone. Make sure your most recent backup includes these deleted messages.

Basically, iTunes will save one backup for a device - every time you plug in your phone, iTunes will replace the older backup. So if there's something in the backup you want to recover that was not currently on the phone, the data will be overwritten by the newer backup file.

Step 1: Launch iTunes or Finder.

Step 2: Connect your iPhone to the computer you use to back up the texts.

Step 3: Click iPhone icon in the top-left corner of iTunes windows. In Finder, select your device from the left menu bar.

Step 4: Click Restore Backup. All data in the backup should be restored to the device, with the deleted text messages appearing in the Message list.

Note that any new content since the date of the backup would be lost.

Recover deleted texts: using 3rd-party app

Can I recover deleted texts on iPhone without backup? The answer is Yes. Many third-party applications will work unless the deleted data has been overwritten. iPhone Data Recovery is an outstanding and reliable option that will scan the phone memory for the deleted texts, and recover one text conversation or some of messages with photos, as well as the attachments associated with the text messages.

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In addition to retrieving a text message that was not backed up, the utility could scan your iTunes backup and iCloud backup, and retrieve the backed up messages without deleting anything since the backup.

How is text messages recovery app possible?

When you accidentally delete your message, it isn't really erased — it's still in the phone memory, but in a 'free space' database that can be reallocated for data of newly created files. Then the overwrite of the deleted text messages and iMessages happens, rendering them unrecoverable.

Stop using your device once you realize the deletion of messages, and the iPhone messages recovery application is able to find the conversations and recover them within a few minutes.

Watch Video: How Can You Recover Your Deleted Texts on Your iPhone

How does the software work?

To find out your deleted text messages, browse through the SMS, and recover the ones you want, follow these steps:

Step 1: Run iPhone Data Recovery. Connect your handset to the computer, and click Start Scan button.

Step 2: The software starts performing a thorough scan for all data stored on the phone. This could take a bit of time, so just let it do its thing.

When it's completed, you should have a clear look of the data types and the number of files.

Step 3: On the left side of the screen, choose "Messages" and "Messages Attachments" categories. The software does show all messages including the ones you accidentally deleted, and corresponding attachments.

Select any text you wish to retrieve, and click Recover button.

Step 4: Now you need to specify an output folder on the computer for saving the recovered messages. When done, hit Recover button to begin the recovery.

Retrieve deleted text messages: contact carrier

Your phone provider or carrier keeps records of calls and sent text messages. As a general rule, the messages - though they're deleted from the inbox, will sit on the company server with certain time period, depending on your carrier's policy.

Verizon holds text message details for up to one year, and text message content for 3-5 days. AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile do not retain the actual content of the text messages, but stores text message details respectively for 5-7 years, 18 months, and 5 years. Once the time frame has expired, the provider will delete the text history and content but hold the time and date of the thread and who it was sent to.

Note that this only works for SMS texts, as iMessages are not stored on the carrier's servers.

An old-fashioned method

If you have deleted a text message that you had received from one of your contacts and want to retrieve now, you could contact the person and get back the vital information. It's time-consuming if you lost all threads of messages in the Messages app.

People frequently asked questions

Here are basic understandings of messages sync in iCloud, as well as guides to delete text messages or conversation threads on iPhone.

Messages Sync in iCloud

Messages in iCloud is a great feature to sync texts across all devices sharing with the same Apple ID. But unfortunately, when you delete a message on iPhone, it will be erased on all devices. This is the biggest difference from an iCloud backup. On the other hand, the text messages will not be included in the iCloud backup if you utilize this Message Sync in iCloud function.

This is an exception that you can restore the deleted texts on iPhone. If you have more than one iOS device using the same Apple ID, say an iPhone and an iPad, and your iPad has the messages that you want to recover, simply go to Settings on iPad, tap [your name] > iCloud, and then turn on Messages. Sit back and let the messages from iPad sync to iCloud. It's important to recognize that messages sync on iPad hasn't not been enabled yet.

After that, do the same on your iPhone and the messages in iCloud will appear on the device later.

Learn more from: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/251925637

How to delete a message on iPhone

Deleting text messages is matter of several taps on the screen. To delete a single message:

1. Open a thread.

2. Touch and hold the message bubble you want to delete, then tap More.

3. Tap the Trash icon, and then Delete Message. If you want to delete all messages in this thread, tap Delete All in the top-left corner, and then tap Delete Conversation to confirm.

To deleted a conversation or thread:

1. Locate the conversion you tend to get rid of.

2. Swipe to the left until you see Delete.

3. Tap Delete, then tap Delete again to confirm the action.

Besides that, there's an option that you can configure your phone to automatically delete texts after a month or a year. In Settings app, tap Messages > Keep Messages, and choose either 30 days or 1 Year.


The solutions above should help recovering deleted messages. If you have an iCloud backup or iTunes (Finder) backup, you could restore your iPhone to factory settings and get back the text history. This is also an effective way if you would not like to invest any software.

In case you couldn't find the deleted text even after restoring via iTunes backup or iCloud backup, then there's no recourse but to grab the iPhone Data Recovery tool. With it, you should quickly see whether a file will have a good or poor chance at recovering. Next Up: How to Back Up iPhone Safely to against deletion in future.

BTW, there's a wide range of data recovery software on the market that you can use, in addition to iPhone Data Recovery mentioned in the article. In essence, a best file recovery tool should be fast, reliable, easy to use, has the ability to recover as much data as possible and provides many benefits to users.

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