How to delete messages on Mac

How to delete messages on Mac

A great benefit of the Apple ecosystem is that it has iMessage on any Apple device, including your Mac. However, if you feel it is creating clutter, privacy issues, or taking too much storage, there are multiple ways to delete messages on Mac.

I have multiple solutions, whether you want to delete some heavy attachments, single or multiple messages, or complete conversations. Simply scroll down to get one that suits your bill.

Before you delete text messages on Mac

Your Mac receives messages because the iCloud sync is enabled. And if you make any changes to messages on Mac’s Messages app, it will sync across all your Apple devices. If you want to delete the messages from all devices, skip this section.

However, if you want to delete messages or conversations from Mac and not other devices, here’s what you need to do first.

  1. Launch Messages.
  2. Click Messages from the top menu and select Preferences (or type ⌘,).
  3. Go to the @iMessage tab.
  4. Uncheck Enable Messages in iCloud.
  5. In the pop-up, click Disable This Device.
Turn off or on auto sync messages on Mac

Any change done henceforth will only apply to your Mac.

Note: If you enable messages again, everything will sync to the previous settings (as on the iCloud backup), so be cautious.

How to delete messages on MacBook from the Messages app

The Messages app on Mac has two sections:

  • Conversations – The side of the Messages window that lists all the conversations.
  • Transcript – All messages received in a conversation, including text, photos, videos, etc., are shown on the right-hand side.

Now that these basics are covered, let’s get on to the meat of this article.

Delete selective messages or attachments

  1. Open the message thread.
  2. Right-click or control-click the message bubble.
  3. Select Delete.
  4. Click Delete again to confirm the action.
Delete messages or attachments on Mac

How to delete multiple messages

  1. In the message thread, click a message.
  2. Now, press and hold the Command key (⌘) and click multiple items to select them.
    Note: You can also press and hold the first item, then drag over all the items.
  3. Press delete from the keyboard.

Note: Unfortunately, the right-click and Delete method doesn’t work when multiple messages are selected; you can use the keyboard or Finder (method mentioned below).

Delete all messages on MacBook

  1. Select the conversation.
  2. Click Edit from the top menu bar.
  3. Choose Clear Transcript.
  4. Click Clear to confirm.
Delete all messages on MacBook

The conversation remains in your sidebar, but all content is removed from the transcript.

How to delete a conversation 

  1. In the Messages app, right-click or control-click the conversation.
  2. Click Delete Conversation.
  3. Confirm the action, click Delete.
Delete complete conversations on Mac

Alternatively,

  • Slide left the conversation with two fingers (from the trackpad or Magic Mouse) and select Delete.
Delete a conversation on Macbook
  • Select the conversation, click File from the menu bar and choose Delete Conversation.

Delete all messages on Mac using Terminal 

  1. Launch Terminal from:
    • Launchpad – Look for Terminal and click the app
    • Spotlight – Search for Terminal and click the app
    • Finder – Go to ApplicationsUtilities → Terminal
  2. To delete:
    • Chat – Use the command: rm –r ~/Library/Messages/chat
    • Attachments – Use the command: rm –r ~/Library/Messages/Attachments/??
Delete all messages on Mac using Terminal 

Notably, the result of these command lines is permanent and will delete all chat transcripts and attachments, respectively.

How to delete all messages via Finder 

  1. In Finder, click Go from the menu bar.
  2. Select Go to Folder or click ⇧ (Shift)+ ⌘ (Command)+ G.
  3. Paste ~/Library/Messages in the window.
  4. Select the following files and move them to Trash:
    • chat.db
    • chat.db-wal
    • chat.db-shm
    • Attachments (if you want to delete all attachments)
  5. Open the Trash and empty it.
Delete all messages via Finder 

Note: To specifically delete Attachments, paste ~/Library/Messages/Attachments and select the files.

Sort and delete message attachments

  1. Click the Apple icon from the menu and select About This Mac.
  2. Go to the Storage tab and click Manage.
  3. From the sidebar, select Messages.
  4. Here you’ll see all the message attachments.
  5. Select
    • One: Click it.
    • Multiple: Click and drag or press and hold Shift ()/Command (⌘) and click.
    • All: Press Command () + A or click and drag from the first to the last.
  6. Click Delete Delete again to confirm.
Sort and delete message attachments

Note:

  • Double-click the attachment to preview it in Quick Look.
  • If you only want to delete large attachments, click the Size column to align them in descending order and then delete them.

Auto-delete text messages on Mac

Once you’ve cleaned your Messages app of unwanted messages, you can schedule them to auto-delete, so you don’t have to repeat these processes.

  1. In the Messages app, click Messages → Preferences or type ⌘ + ,.
  2. Go to the General tab.
  3. Click the Keep Messages menu and select either option:
    • 30 Days
    • One Year
    • Forever
Auto - delete text messages on Mac

 Signing off

Decluttering surely takes some time, but there is no going back once you’ve adopted digital minimalism. And whether your target is minimalism or privacy, I hope you found a suitable way to delete messages on Mac.

For more interesting messaging hacks, try out these articles:

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