How can you see deleted text messages on iphone

In iOS 16, Apple has brought some welcome updates to its stock Messages app. One of these is the ability to recover messages you have deleted from conversations. Keep reading to learn how it works.

How can you see deleted text messages on iphone

In ‌iOS 16‌, Apple has added a new "Recently Deleted" section to its Messages app that aggregates all of the text messages that you've deleted in the last 30 days. That means if you accidentally delete a message and wish to recover it, you can now do so right in the Messages app interface.

Here's how to recover a deleted message on an iPhone or iPad running ‌iOS 16‌ or iPadOS 16.

  1. In the Messages app, navigate to the main Messages screen where filters like Known Senders and Unknown Senders can be found.
  2. Tap Recently Deleted.
  3. Tap the messages that you want to recover so that a blue check mark appears next to each one. (Note that each message show the days remaining before automatic deletion.)
  4. Tap Recover in the bottom-right corner of the screen.
  5. Tap Recover Message[s] in the pop-over to confirm.

How can you see deleted text messages on iphone
How can you see deleted text messages on iphone

That's all there is to it. You can use the same "Recently Deleted" screen to permanently delete messages, by tapping them and then selecting Delete in the bottom-left corner. Note that permanently deleting a message from Apple's servers may take up to 40 days.

Deleting a text that you don’t think you need is as easy as a swipe of your finger and a couple of taps, but what if you regret your choice, end up needing the info in the text later on, and want to undelete your iPhone message? Is there a way to recover deleted text messages on your iPhone? Yes, in fact, there are several ways you can try and restore a text you wiped.

Mind you, Messages do not have a trash folder, so whenever you delete a text, it gets removed. So the answer to the question “where do deleted text messages go on iPhone” is simple: they disappear, unless you’ve backed them up. 

If you are determined to retrieve deleted text messages on your iPhone, you can look through your backups to see if you have backups that were made after you got your message but before you deleted it. If you have a backup created in that time slot, you should be able to restore your lost info. Alternatively, you can also contact your phone network operator to see if they store your texts and are able to help you out.

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Let’s look through all the ways how to undelete messages on iPhone.

Retrieve deleted text messages on an iPhone using iCloud backup 

If you’ve made an iCloud backup for your phone before you deleted your text, you can restore that backup on your phone to return the lost message.

Note that messages you have received after the backup along with any photos or other information you’ve created or saved on your phone after that backup will get overwritten once you restore your selected backup on your iPhone. This means you will lose information created after the selected backup was made.

Consider copying to an outside storage anything you’ve created since the last backup before restoring in order to be able to access the info after your phone gets overwritten by the backup you plan on restoring on your iPhone.

To check if you have a suitable backup, go to Settings on your iPhone and tap your name at the top of the menu. Go to iCloud > Manage Storage > Backups.

Note: Unfortunately, you might find that you’ve disabled iCloud Backup — many people do that to save storage, which is generally a sensible thing to do, considering backups may take up a big chunk of space. In this case, you’ll have to find out how to undelete text messages on iPhone without iCloud backups. We’ll talk about that in a bit.

If you’ve found available backups, look through them and select the one you want to restore.

How can you see deleted text messages on iphone

After you’ve made sure that you have the right backup, go Settings > General > Software Update.

How can you see deleted text messages on iphone

Check that your device is up to date. If there are any updates available, install them.

Now you need to erase your device and restore it from the suitable iCloud backup that you’ve spotted in the steps above. Copy any information you think might not be in the backup, otherwise you will end up losing it.

Now it’s time to erase all data. Go to Settings > General > Reset:

How can you see deleted text messages on iphone

There, tap Erase All Content and Settings.

This will erase everything from your phone, so triple check you have copies of and/or ways to restore everything you might need.

When your phone boots back up, go through the setup steps and choose to restore your phone from an iCloud backup. Sign in with your Apple ID and choose the backup you want to restore from.

Do not try this option if you are not sure everything you have on your phone is thoroughly backed up and if you stand to lose important information or settings.

How to find deleted text messages on iPhone without overwriting it

If you want to know how to recover deleted text on an iPhone without completely overwriting it, there’s an option you can try. This does not work for everyone, but reportedly some people have managed to restore texts this way. You will have to check for yourself if it works for you, and here’s how to do it.

If your Messages have been synced to your iCloud (the toggle was on next to Messages in Settings > your name > iCloud menu), you might be able to actually find them in your Apple ID account when logging to and then sync to your phone. At least, that’s what some users recommend trying.

To see if your messages were synced to iCloud, log in to with your Apple ID and look through the app icons on your home page:

How can you see deleted text messages on iphone

If you see the Messages icon there, tap on it, and browse to see if you can find the messages that you want to restore. As you can see in our screen, we do not have Messages, which means they weren’t backed up for us. Reportedly, if you can find Messages on your screen on and see your missing texts there, it is possible to sync them back to your iPhone.

If you have found your lost texts this way on your iCloud on the web and are happy to just have access to the lost info, you don’t need to do anything else. If you do want to sync the rediscovered message back to your phone, here’s the sequence we’ve found people recommending to do in order to sync the message.

Go to your iPhone Settings, tap your profile name at the top, then iCloud. Find Messages there and move the toggle next to it into an off position. You should be suggested the option Keep on my iPhone, tap on it, then toggle the Messages back on. You should get the Merge option there.

We are not sure this works at all as we were not able to replicate it on our devices, but since this is not as radical as overwriting your phone with an older backup (especially if you haven’t made a backup in a while), could be worth a try. Only try this method if you can find the Messages icon on your iCloud on and do spot the right text there.

How to see deleted messages on iPhone using Finder or iTunes 

This step discusses how to retrieve deleted messages if you have backed up your phone to your Mac. This means restoring your phone from a backup on your Mac, as you cannot just individually restore messages even with this method. 

If you are using a Mac with macOS 10.15 or later, your backup will be done via Finder. For older macOS, iTunes manages the backup. Here’s how to restore deleted messages on iPhone via Finder or iTunes: 

  1. Connect your iPhone to Mac and open Finder or iTunes
  2. In Finder, find the name of your device under Locations, and click on it. In iTunes, click the phone icon and choose Summary 
  3. If you have a backup of your phone on your Mac, you’ll be able to restore it by clicking Restore Backup.  

How can you see deleted text messages on iphone

Note that you’ll be asked for a password of an encrypted backup, so have it handy if you have previously encrypted your backups.

This method works just as an iCloud restore, so it requires you to have previously backed up your iPhone to your Mac.

Besides the built-in iPhone backup tools, you can actually use other apps to do the task for you. For example, if you want a comprehensive backup manager, you can try AnyTrans. In addition to just backing up your devices, this app offers a lot of functionality when it comes to transferring files between devices, migrating information between devices, transferring local libraries, and more.

The best thing about AnyTrans is that you can choose the content you want to back up and restore. What’s more, this app never overwrites your backups, unlike iTunes and Finder. So it’s a much handier solution if you’re specifically interested in how to restore deleted messages on iPhone. 

How can you see deleted text messages on iphone

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You can use the tool to back up and restore your messages:

  1. Connect your iPhone to Mac
  2. In AnyTrans, choose Backup Manager
  3. Wait until AnyTrans loads your iPhone content 
  4. Click Back up or Restore Backup, depending on your task. 

How can you see deleted text messages on iphone

Recover deleted messages via contacting your phone provider

If you tried all the above options in vain, there’s one more answer to the question how to get old text messages back on your iPhone – contacting your phone carrier.

To contact your carrier, you can log in to your web profile on the carrier page and contact a chat operator there. If you have your carrier’s app installed on your phone, you should be able to get a hold of their support person there.

You can also call carrier hotline – the number should be one of the contacts on your SIM or you can find it on the carrier website. Alternatively, you can find your carrier’s store in your area and ask the employees there.

Bonus tips for your iPhone

Now that iPhone text messages recovery is out of the way, you might find yourself reevaluating the size of your iPhone backups. Large backups take forever to save and restore, they also take up a lot of storage. This can be annoying regardless of whether you are using your Mac to back up your phone or your iCloud storage.

One way to reduce your backup size is trimming down your photo library. Media files can get pretty large so cleaning them up can reduce the amount of storage you are using fast. You can go through your photos and delete them manually in the Photos app or you can use helper apps to make the process more efficient.

One such app is Gemini. It spots duplicates and similar images and helps you go through your photo library quickly and effortlessly.

How can you see deleted text messages on iphone

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The macOS version of Gemini can help you clean up even more duplicates on your Mac.

How can you see deleted text messages on iphone

And since you’re here exploring great tools for your iPhone, don’t forget to grab ClearVPN for secure and limitless browsing. It’s a great VPN app for mobile, available alongside AnyTrans and Gemini via Setapp subscription, so you get it as a free addition to your toolkit. 

How can you see deleted text messages on iphone

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How to find deleted text messages on iPhone with Setapp

Now that you know how to get your messages back on your iPhone, you will probably think twice before deleting any message from now on since the process can be quite daunting and unless you are sure you have backed up your device after you receive an important message, you can never be sure you will get it back after deleting it.

When it comes to your options, you can try and restore lost information from your iCloud and Mac backups, if you’ve made any. 

Your best bet would be to use external services like AnyTrans to create backups of your messages and then restore them flexibly. 

It’s likely that in the process of figuring out how to retrieve deleted text messages on your iPhone you will notice how large a full phone backup can get. Use apps like Gemini to find and remove duplicate photos from your phone to hopefully help reduce the size of your backups.

You can try AnyTrans, Gemini, and ClearVPN with Setapp, a single productivity subscription that has it all. Apart from these apps, you get over 20 other iPhone apps and over 200 Mac apps for task management, creativity, and streamlining day-to-day tasks. You can try out Setapp with a 7-day free trial.