Skip to main content

How to delete texts on your iPhone

One of the most talked about updates in iOS 10 was the iMessage app. Apple took a very simple texting app and added all kinds of nifty features that people enjoy in other messaging apps. With animated stickers, apps, message animations, drawings, group messaging, and even the option to send a poll to your friends, iMessage is one of the most fun apps to use. But months of iMessaging your family and friends can pile up, and if you don’t manage it, things can get messy. You need to know how to delete text messages on your iPhone.

You might want to delete an individual text message, or get rid of anything more than a month old. Even if you don’t want to delete an entire conversation, you may want to delete parts of a conversation that you don’t want to come up in a Spotlight search. There are several ways to delete text messages, and conversations, in the iMessage app, so let’s take a look at them all.

MoreHow to use iMessage on iOS 10

How to delete individual messages

If you just want to get rid of a single message on your iPhone, this is how to do it:

  1. Tap and hold the message.
  2. Tap More… in the pop up menu.
  3. Select the individual message you would like to delete.
  4. Select the delete trash bin icon on the lower left.
  5. To confirm you want to delete, tap Delete Message on the pop up menu.

How to delete one conversation

Swipe to delete a message in ios
Image used with permission by copyright holder

If you like to delete a whole conversation on your iPhone, here are the steps you need to follow:

  1. Open the messages app.
  2. Swipe left on the conversation you want to delete.
  3. Choose Delete.

How to delete multiple conversations

Maybe you’d like to delete multiple conversations on your iPhone at once. Here’s how:

  1. Open the messages app, and tap Edit on the upper left corner.
  2. Select the messages you want to delete.
  3. Choose Delete on the lower right corner.

How can I prevent text messages from showing up in Spotlight Search?

It could be embarrassing, awkward, or just annoying to have certain text message conversations show up when you do a Spotlight Search. Here’s how to prevent that from happening:

  1. Go to Settings > General > Spotlight Search.
  2. Scroll down to Messages and switch the button to the off position. If the button is white, that means that it is off.

How to delete all my texts at once

What if you have hundreds of old messages and you want to delete them all at once? Follow these steps:

  1. Go to Settings > Messages > Keep Messages.
  2. You can choose how long messages are kept for — 30 days, 1 year, or Forever.

The chances are that the Forever option is selected. If you only want to keep messages for 30 days, choose that, and you’ll see a warning that all texts older than 30 days will be automatically deleted. You’ll see the same message if you choose 1 year — any messages older than 1 year will be deleted automatically.

How to delete text messages so they can’t be recovered

reset all settings in ios 10
Image used with permission by copyright holder

If you are selling the device, or you are just conscious of security and you don’t want your iPhone to fall into the wrong hands and risk the chance that anyone can recover your deleted text messages, then follow the steps below.

Warning: This will delete everything on your iPhone, not just your text messages, so back up everything precious before you do this.

  1. Go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset All Content and Settings.
  2. If you have a passcode set, enter your passcode when prompted.

If you want to sell or pass on your device to someone else, this would be the way to do it.

What if you want to erase messages, but don’t want to erase everything else?

If you sync your iPhone with iTunes, then messages that you deleted previously will be deleted from iOS so that they can’t be recovered.

  1. Open iTunes.
  2. Plug in your iPhone to your computer.
  3. Click the iPhone icon in the iTunes app at the top.
  4. Select what you want to sync, whether it’s apps, music, or photos. In this example, just selecting Sync only checked songs and videos will do the trick.
  5. When you select Apply the iPhone will sync with iTunes.

Editors' Recommendations

Carlos Vega
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Carlos has been involved in computers since 2000, when he earned his MCSE and A+ certifications. A love for technology turned…
One of our favorite Android phones just got its own iMessage app
Nothing Chats app on a. phone.

Nothing is trying to bridge the great blue/green bubble divide for Android users of iMessage. This is not a personal crusade to shatter walls and open windows, as much as Nothing CEO Carl Pei would want you to believe that. Instead, Nothing is piggybacking on tech created by New York-based startup Sunbird. 
Technically, the Sunbird app can be installed on any Android phone and it features a blue bubble for all iMessage text exchanges involving an Android phone. No more green bubble shame that could get you kicked out of groups for disrupting the harmony or even slim your dating chances. That’s how bad it is! 
Nothing is adopting the Sunbird tech and bundling it as its very own app under the name Nothing Chats. But here’s the fun part. The app only works on the Nothing Phone 2 and not the Nothing Phone 1. And this life-altering boon will only be bestowed upon users in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., or the EU bloc.

The app is currently in the beta phase, which means some iMessage features will be broken or absent. Once the app is downloaded on your Nothing Phone 2, you can create a new account or sign up with your Apple ID to get going with blue bubble texts. 
Just in case you’re concerned, all messages will be end-to-end encrypted, and the app doesn’t collect any personal information, such as the users’ geographic location or the texts exchanged. Right now, Sunbird and Nothing have not detailed the iMessage features and those that are broken. 
We made iMessage for Android...
The Washington Post tried an early version of the Nothing Chats app and notes that the blue bubble system works just fine. Texts between an Android device and an iPhone are neatly arranged in a thread, and multimedia exchange is also allowed at full quality. 
However, message editing is apparently not available, and a double-tap gesture for responding with a quick emoji doesn’t work either. We don’t know when these features will be added. Nothing's Sunbird-based app will expand to other territories soon. 
Sunbird, however, offers a handful of other tricks aside from serving the iMessage blue bubble on Android. It also brings all your other messaging apps, such as WhatsApp and Instagram, in one place. This isn’t an original formula, as Beeper offers the same convenience.

Read more
These 5 iPhone 15 problems are annoying. Here’s how to fix them
Apple iPhone 15 Plus and Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max seen from the back.

Apple iPhone 15 Plus (left) and Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Apple launched the iPhone 15 lineup in September, and it seems to have been a big hit among the public. The standard iPhone 15 is one of the biggest upgrades for the regular model in quite some time, and the iPhone 15 Pro Max now has one of the best camera systems available on a smartphone today.

Read more
The best iPhone 15 Pro Max cases in 2023: the 20 best ones
Renders of iPhone 15 Pro Max cases next to each other.

It’s no surprise that the iPhone 15 Pro Max is Apple’s most feature-packed smartphone to date. It is important to note that even though the iPhone 15 Pro Max is both durable and lightweight, with its 6.7-inch screen and titanium casing, it can still get damaged during an accident and crack or shatter. To keep your newest iPhone in good condition, it is highly recommended that you invest in one or two protective cases to keep it safe and secure.

Fortunately, we have compiled a list of the 20 best iPhone 15 Pro Max cases that you can purchase right now. Take a look below; we are confident that you will find something that meets your needs.

Read more