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How to delete and recover text messages in Android

Deleting text messages is usually a straightforward affair, but some people may be confused about (or unaware of) the different ways you can select and delete text messages on an Android device. This guide shows you how.

The following instructions cover Google’s Android Messages app and the stock app that comes preinstalled on Samsung phones. We also show how to delete SMS messages in Facebook Messenger if you set it as your default.

All instructions listed below show how to delete single and multiple messages. However, if you accidentally deleted the wrong message(s), we suggest a few tools to get them back.

Delete an individual text message

Android Messages

This applies to Google’s Messages app. The icon has lines in a conversation bubble.

Android 11 Delete Single Message

Step 1: Tap to open Messages.

Step 2: Tap and hold on the message you want to be deleted. Tap the X in the top left corner if you marked the wrong message, or tap the message to deselect.

Step 3: Tap the trash icon located in the top right corner.

Step 4: Tap Delete in the pop-up window to confirm.

Samsung Messages

This applies to Samsung’s stock Messages app installed on its phones. The icon has dots in a conversation bubble.

Samsung Delete Single Message

Step 1: Tap to open Messages.

Step 2: Tap and hold on the message you want to be deleted. Tap it again to deselect it if you marked the wrong message.

Step 3: Tap Delete located on the slide-up menu located at the bottom.

Step 4: Tap Delete in the pop-up window to confirm.

Facebook Messenger

If you’re using Facebook’s app as your default SMS client, you can filter out your private messages by tapping the SMS button in the app’s search bar, leaving only SMS messages visible. Tap it again to add Facebook messages back to the list.

Facebook Messenger Delete SMS

Step 1: Tap to open Facebook Messenger.

Step 2: Tap and hold on the message you want to be deleted.

Step 3: Tap Delete listed on the pop-up menu.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to delete multiple messages at once from within the Messenger app.

Delete multiple messages at once

Android Messages

This applies to Google’s Messages app. The icon has lines in a conversation bubble.

Android 11 Delete Multiple Messages

Step 1: Tap to open Messages.

Step 2: Tap and hold on the first message you want to delete. A checkmark should appear to its left.

Step 3: Tap on all other messages you want to be deleted.

Step 4: Tap on the trash icon located at the top to delete them all.

Step 5: Tap Delete in the pop-up window to confirm.

Samsung Messages

This applies to Samsung’s stock Messages app installed on its phones. The icon has dots in a conversation bubble.

Samsung Delete Multiple Messages

Step 1: Tap to open Messages.

Step 2: Tap and hold on the first message you want to delete. A checkmark should appear to its left.

Step 3: Tap on all other messages you want to be deleted.

Step 4: Tap Delete located on the slide-up menu located at the bottom.

Step 5: Tap Delete in the pop-up window to confirm.

Recovering text messages

If you accidentally deleted texts and need to restore them, immediately put the Android device into Airplane mode. This prevents further changes to your local data, in this case, your phone overwriting “deleted” texts with new ones. After that, you have two options.

Use Google Drive

One way to restore deleted messages is to reset the phone to its factory defaults and then restore it with a backup saved on Google Drive. However, you need to check this backup first and make sure it wasn’t saved after you deleted the texts. If it was saved after the deletion, there’s no reason to take this route.

If you haven’t backed up to Google Drive, skip this section altogether.

Check Android Backup SMS texts

Step 1: Tap to open Google Drive.

Step 2: Tap the three-lined “hamburger” icon located in the top left corner.

Step 3: Tap Backups listed on the roll-out menu.

Step 4: Tap the Backup listed under This Device.

On this screen, you should see an SMS entry. If it’s dated before you deleted the texts, then you can use it to restore your deleted texts. This is an extreme option, however, but the only one outside using third-party software.

Use third-party software

Here are a few suggestions that work well in retrieving deleted texts.

Android Data Recovery ($50)

Android Data Recovery tool

This is one of the more popular tools in recovering data from an Android phone, including text messages. Available for Windows 10 and MacOS, this desktop software will scan all deleted items and present a list of data you can pick and choose to recover. It even retrieves deleted photos, videos, messages, and photos delivered through WhatsApp.

Android Recovery

Wondershare Dr.Fone ($70+)

This restoration tool supports the most modern Android devices. You can also download and install the application on both MacOS and Windows-based devices. This program will enable you to promptly retrieve text messages, images, videos, and even information from third-party apps like WhatsApp and others. In addition, it can help you to collect lost files from your device, resulting from a system failure, rooting error, and many more unfortunate situations.

Wondershare

FonePaw ($49+)

recover sms
This specific software will allow you to recover information from machines operating on the latest version of Android, all the way back to the ancient Android 2.1. It’s compatible with all the most popular brands and will also assist you in recovering many different types of data, from text messages and contacts to images, media, and documents. It can even retrieve WhatsApp data. The restoration consists of internal storage, as well as SD cards and SIM cards.

Fonepaw

SMS Backup & Restore (Free)

To protect your text messages and make sure they’re secure, you must have an application that produces backups of your texts. If you regularly create backups, then you’re one of the fortunate ones. This application will allow you to save texts and call records. It runs on devices with the Android 4.0.3 version or above and is extremely easy to use, permitting you to back up to Google Drive or Dropbox.

Google Play Store

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