If you’ve ever deleted a text message from your phone by mistake, you know how frustrating it could be.
Fortunately, if you’re using an iPhone, recovering deleted text messages is relatively easy.
One of the best things about having an iPhone is that you can back up your phone to your iCloud account, allowing you to retrieve important data whenever you need it.
However, you’ll need to have iCloud backup turned on for this to work. That way, iCloud will back up your messages, as well as your photos and other phone data, so you can retrieve them at any time.
There is a significant disadvantage of using this method to restore your messages, though. You’ll need to reboot your device and reset it entirely, and only then will you be able to restore your data.
In other words, you’ll be rewriting all of your data. If you only want to restore one or two text messages, this method might seem like a lot of work for the results you’ll get.
With that being said, let me show you how to restore your text messages using your iCloud backup. First, you’ll need to reset your iPhone.
- Open your settings.
- Scroll down and click on General.
- Scroll to the bottom, and click on Transfer or Reset iPhone.
- Select Erase All Content and Settings to wipe your device clean.
- Enter your passcode or password if your phone asks you to.
- Confirm that you want to reset your device.
- Once you’ve wiped your device, you’ll need to restore your old iCloud data.
- With the device turned on, follow the prompts. You’ll reach a screen called Apps & Data.
- When you reach that screen, click on Restore From iCloud Backup when asked how you want to restore your data.
- Sign in to your iCloud account.
- Find and select the backup you want to restore. You’ll be able to see details such as the size and date of the backup.
- Make sure you’re connected to the Wifi network and follow any prompts. Have patience and wait for the backup restoration process to complete.
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There are two things I want to mention here. First, you need to make sure that iCloud backup is turned on before you select this method.
To check if iCloud is backing up your messages, open your Settings. Then, click on your Apple ID at the top of the screen.
Click on iCloud. “iCloud Backup” should be set to on.
If you want to restore your photos as well, ensure that iCloud backups for Photos are turned on.
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The next thing I want to mention is that it’s critical to select the correct backup to restore. If you choose a backup that took place after you already deleted the text message, you’ll be accomplishing nothing.
One issue is that you can’t see exactly what’s in the backup. That complicates things a little, as you won’t be able to see the exact text messages you want to back up and ensure they are there.
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If you have Messages in iCloud turned on, you may be able to find your deleted text message on another phone you are using that has the same iCloud account. However, there is a big “if” here.
Messages in iCloud is a feature that syncs your messages across all of your devices.
You can turn on iMessages in iCloud or check if it’s turned on by going to your settings.
- Click on your Apple ID.
- Click on iCloud.
- Tap on iCloud Backup.
- Scroll down until you find Messages. You can toggle the green switch on or off to activate or deactivate Messages in iCloud.
When Messages in iCloud is activated, your text messages will no longer be included in your phone’s iCloud backups because they are already stored in your iCloud.
If you have Messages in iCloud turned on, any message you send on your iPhone will show up on your Messages app on your Mac.
The reverse is true. If you delete a text message on one device, it will disappear on any other devices that you are using that account on.
At first glance, having Messages on iCloud makes it more complicated and difficult to restore text messages you deleted.
There is an exception, though.
Let’s say you’re using iMessage on your iPhone and iPad. If you delete a text message on your iPhone, it will be deleted from your iPad too.
However, let’s say that your iPad wasn’t connected to the internet when you deleted the text message from your iPhone. In that case, the message will still show up on your iPad – until you connect it to Wifi and it syncs with your iPhone, at which point it will be deleted.
For this to work, you must have sent the text message on your iPhone while your iPad was still connected to the internet and deleted it from your iPhone while your iPad was not connected to the internet. Also, the iPad must also have remained disconnected from the internet since then.
Similarly, if you turn off Messages in iCloud on your iPad after sending the text message, it will no longer sync with your phone, so the message won’t get deleted.
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You may also be able to use data recovery software to recover text messages and other data from iPhones.
Various software programs exist. Some of them may not work all of the time, but they’re worth a try.
FoneLab is a good software program to start with. It doesn’t require an iCloud backup file to work, as it lets you recover data that is stored locally on your iPhone device.
One of the advantages of using FoneLab is that you can see the data you are restoring before you restore it.
Some data you can restore, other than the messages themselves, include:
- Message attachments
- And more
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When you connect your phone to the computer on which you installed the software, you’ll be able to select the exact data you want to restore.
You’ll also be able to preview the exact text messages that the program was able to recover.
It also works on iPhone versions as early as 3GS, so you don’t need a modern iOS device to use it.
You’ll be able to recover the deleted files to your computer, but not to your phone. Otherwise, you’ll end up overwriting the data on your phone.
Another software program you can use is iSkySoft. It allows you to recover text messages and even Facebook Messenger messages.
Using iSkySoft, you’ll also be able to recover call logs, calendar data, and more.
Both programs cost money, so try seeing if you can use iCloud before you use them.
I mentioned that if you have an iCloud backup, you can restore it to your phone – but you’ll have to restore your phone to factory settings and rewrite all the data on your phone to do that.
However, programs like iSkySoft also let you selectively back up data from iCloud backups. Even without an iCloud backup, though, the program can also scan your phone’s deep files and back up recent messages from there.
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If none of those methods work, hope is not lost – yet. Some cellular providers, like Verizon, save your text message history for a certain period, which could be anywhere from a few days to a few months until they delete them.
However, getting the actual text messages from your cellular provider might prove difficult. In addition, some cellular providers only save records and logs, such as the date and time you sent the message and who you were texting, not the actual text content.
Deleting messages on iOS was always about deleting them for yourself – never about deleting them for the other person. That is all changing with the newest iOS update (iOS 16), but more on that later.
If you have an earlier iOS version, though, and you deleted a text message, it should still show up on the other person’s phone.
Depending on your circumstances, you might not be on speaking terms with the other person, or you may be embarrassed to admit you deleted a text message or conversation.
However, if your messages got deleted by mistake, you can simply ask the other person to copy and paste the message and send it to you. They may or may not comply, but give it a try!
If you are trying to recover an entire conversation, just ask the person you texted to take screenshots and send them to you.
This method works when you delete a text message that someone else sent you, not when you delete a message you sent.
When you get a text message on iOS, a notification will show up in your notification log, which you can see by swiping down from the top of your screen. If you haven’t yet cleared your notification log, the message may still show up in your log, depending on the messaging app that was used.
This method works best for messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and Telegram.
Until now, I’ve discussed retrieving deleted SMS messages you sent using the Messages app on iOS. However, if you were using WhatsApp, there are other ways to recover deleted text messages.
WhatsApp allows you to schedule daily backups of all your messages and any pictures you sent or received. That way, if you install WhatsApp on a new phone, you will be able to restore previous conversations.
On an iPhone, WhatsApp backups are made to your iCloud account. On an Android, they’re made to your Google Drive.
As such, you can’t restore your previous WhatsApp chat history if you are switching from an Android to an iPhone or vice versa.
However, if you delete WhatsApp on your iPhone and then reinstall it, you’ll be able to restore your chat history from the last backup you made.
Just go to your WhatsApp settings, where you’ll be able to be sure that backups are turned on and that the most recent backup happened after you sent the text message but before you deleted it.
If you don’t have a WhatsApp backup, you may still be able to recover the text message by asking the friend you sent it to to copy and send it to you. However, if you unsend a text message for both of you (which you can do for one hour after sending it), that won’t work.
WhatsApp now allows you to use the same account on multiple devices (though you can’t use it on two phones; only on one phone and up to four laptops). Even if you delete it on one device, you may still be able to see it on another device.
Apple recently announced that the next iOS update will allow users to unsend and edit text messages. That is a feature that is already present on certain messaging apps, like Telegram.
Telegram allows you not only to unsend a text message like WhatsApp does, but it also allows you to edit it – even after sending it.
Depending on when you’re reading this, you may or may not yet have access to iOS 16. If you do have iOS 16, things are going to get a bit more complicated.
Unsending a text message for both you and your friend (as opposed to simply deleting it from your phone) will make it more difficult to retrieve it, as it will disappear on your friend’s phone as well, according to a report by CNET.
Your friend will never know you sent the text message unless they see it before you unsend it. They will know if you edit a text message because the message will be marked as “Edited,” but it won’t show the edit history.
That’s similar to Telegram, which also shows the person you’re texting that you edited the message but doesn’t notify them if you delete a message.
Even if you can’t find a way to recover a deleted text message, whether it’s because you deleted it too long ago or for any other reason, you can avoid deleting your text messages in the future. Many text messages get deleted by accident.
Sometimes, people delete text messages because they’re upset at what the other person has said or because the other person hasn’t responded to their message. However, if you worry you might want to retrieve it later, it’s important not to let your emotions get the better of you and just not delete it.
If you don’t turn on iCloud backups, you’ll have a hard time getting back your text messages. Make sure you are backing up your text messages to iCloud.
However, don’t turn on Messages in iCloud, as that will automatically make your phone stop backing up your text messages to your iCloud account.
If you use WhatsApp, make sure automatic backups are turned on. To ensure you save as many text messages as possible, activate daily WhatsApp backups instead of weekly or monthly backups.
Sometimes, you’ll lose your data when you try to update iOS and something goes wrong. The download file might get corrupted or interrupted due to bad Wifi.
Before installing a new iOS version, always ensure you have a complete backup, so you don’t lose any text messages. In addition, make sure your phone is fully charged and has access to solid Wifi for the next hour or two so the download can take place smoothly.
Similarly, always back up your iPhone before switching to a new one.
Viruses and malware can also corrupt your device, forcing you to reset and restore your phone. During the process, you may lose some text messages.
Other than turning on iCloud backups, be careful before clicking on links from unknown senders. Also, don’t visit sketchy websites.
Yes. Many people don’t realize that even though Android doesn’t have iCloud backups, you can still back up all messages to Google Drive automatically by going to your settings and clicking on “Google,” where you can find your backup settings.
In addition, Android generally offers more flexibility for these kinds of things, allowing you to retrieve deleted data from your deep storage. You can even recover deleted WhatsApp data from your Android’s local storage.
Whether you deleted a text message by mistake or it was intentional, and you now regret it, there are multiple ways of getting it back.
While there are no guarantees – some text messages will be gone for good – there is a very high probability that at least one of the methods will work for you.
Benjamin Levin is a digital marketing professional with 4+ years of experience with inbound and outbound marketing. He helps small businesses reach their content creation, social media marketing, email marketing, and paid advertising goals. His hobbies include reading and traveling.