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How to retrieve deleted text messages on iPhone (6 Ways)

Mistakes happen all the time while using our iPhones. And that includes deleting important text messages, too, which can be hard to recover. But thanks to Apple’s storage pattern, you can still retrieve deleted messages on your iPhone with a few tricks here and there.

Read on as I show you 6 ways to recover deleted text messages on your iPhone.

How to recover deleted text messages on iPhone in iOS 16

Show Recently Deleted feature is one of the simplest ways to recover text messages that you unintentionally deleted from your iPhone. This feature is made to keep deleted files on your iOS device for 30 days before completely wiping them out.

  1. Launch the Messages app on your iPhone.  
  2. Tap Edit on the top left corner of the screen. 
  3. Choose Show Recently Deleted
  4. Select the messages you wish to recover.

    Tap Edit, choose Show Recently Deleted, select the messages, and tap Recover  
  5. Tap Recover/Recover All when prompted to complete the procedure. 

Note: If you have turned on Filters for the Messages app, the method is slightly different. Go to Messages app → Tap FiltersRecently Deleted → select the messages you want to recover and tap Recover.

How to retrieve deleted messages using iCloud backup

Performing a backup restore from iCloud is another way to retrieve deleted messages on your iPhone. The probability of recovering them is even high if you frequently back up to iCloud.

This trick will help recover all your files, and these may include text messages from a previous iCloud backup. Nonetheless, there’s no way to filter down to text messages only. But it might be worth it in the end. It requires resetting your iPhone, though.

The advantage of this method is you can restore your iPhone to a chosen date. That way, you’ll be able to retrieve files you backed up before you mistakenly deleted the said text messages. So you might want to check the last time your phone backed up before resetting it.

To see the last time your phone backed up to iCloud, open Settings → tap the Apple ID banner at the top. Next, select iCloud → iCloud Backup. Below the Back Up Now callout, you’ll see the time of the last successful backup.

Next, perform a factory reset of your iPhone. After resetting your iPhone, follow the prompts until you see the Apps & Data screen.

Next, use these instructions to restore your iPhone from an iCloud backup:

  1. From the Apps & Data section, select Restore from iCloud Backup.
  2. Sign in to iCloud using your Apple ID and password.
  3. Tap Show all backups and select a relevant one.
    Tip: Use the backup date to decide here. Try not to pick a backup that came after the day you deleted the text messages.

This way, your messages might get restored together with the rest of the files.

Restore deleted text messages on iPhone from iTunes

This recovery method works best if you backed up your iPhone to iTunes or macOS Catalina or later at least before deleting your text messages. Otherwise, if you backed up after deleting the text messages, this overwrites the previous backup, and you might not be able to recover the messages.

iTunes and macOS Catalina or later versions don’t usually require a factory reset. But if conventional restore without reset doesn’t recover your text messages, you might need a factory reset of your iPhone before restoring from iTunes or macOS anyways.

Further, you need a PC or Mac to restore from iTunes. A restore from macOS Catalina or later requires a Mac. This comprehensive guide to restoring data has all the information you need to use this method.

Recover deleted messages from the iCloud website

The iCloud website is another source to recover deleted text messages on your iPhone. Of course, this method requires you to visit the official iCloud website and log in using your Apple ID and password.

Although there’s no specific space for messages on the iCloud website, restoring your files from here might also help recover your text messages. Here’s a guide on recovering deleted files from the iCloud website. However, while I added this as part of the recovery methods, it has a lower chance of success compared to the rest.

Contact your network carrier

While this is a last resort, network providers always have your data on their systems, even if you’ve deleted it. So you might want to contact them if all else fails.

However, this method depends on your network carrier, as the case is always different across regions. Nonetheless, if your network carrier provides solid support, contacting them is one of the best ways to retrieve lost messages.

Retrieve permanently deleted texts using third-party software

Of course, you can use a third-party solution to recover deleted messages on your iPhone. For this purpose, I’ll recommend using the PhoneRescue recovery tool. It’s a paid app, though. And it comes in handy for selectively recovering messages directly from your iOS device without restoring its entire backup.

To use PhoneRescue, launch your browser on your PC or macOS and go to PhoneRescue’s website to download and install the app’s compatible version on your computer. Launch the app and use the following instructions to recover deleted messages:

  1. Plug your iPhone into the computer using a USB cable.
  2. Select Recover from iOS Device.
  3. Next, click the next arrow button at the bottom right.

    Select Recover from iOS Device from PhoneRescue app
  4. Select Messages.
    You might want to deselect other options to make the process faster.

    Select Messages from PhoneRescue
  5. Click OK to proceed.
    Wait for the app to load your messages.
  6. Once loaded, click the phone symbol at the bottom right to restore your messages.

    Click the phone symbol at the bottom from PhoneRescue
What should you do when you mistakenly delete a text message?

To get deleted messages back, you might want to stop all backups to iCloud on your phone to prevent overwriting the previous backup. To stop back up, go to Settings → tap the Apple ID banner at the top → select iCloudiCloud Backup → toggle off iCloud Backup.

Or better still, switch off your iPhone’s cellular data or Wi-Fi. Now, try any of the steps we highlighted above.

How long does it take to recover deleted text messages?

Generally, this depends on the severity of the case and the approach you use. Moreover, besides contacting the network carrier, which might take days to respond, the other methods don’t take time.

Can third-party apps recover deleted messages?

Yes, third-party apps like wondershare, Tenorshare, and PhoneRescue are all valuable tools that can help you retrieve deleted text messages on your iPhone. Some of these come at a price, though.

That’s about it!

Text messages are hard to recover once deleted. But of course, you should be able to recover your text messages using any of these methods. Let me know if you recovered your deleted messages in the comment section below.

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  • Idowu

    Idowu is an avid tech writer and a software surfer who loves covering knowledge gaps in consumer software, including anything related to iPhones. Well, when he's not reading and learning new things, you'll find Idowu losing gallantly on a solid chessboard or virtually on Lichess.

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