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How to recover deleted iMessages while you can

You need to move very fast.
By
July 19, 2022

iMessage is such a dominant and popular online messaging platform that you can easily have months and even years of messaging history on it. So what can you do if you accidentally delete any of it or if any are deleted due to a screwup on your computer? Is it possible to recover deleted iMessages? The answer is yes, but you must be very quick before they’re gone forever. Plus, there may be some other data loss involved. So, how important are those iMessages to you?

Read more: How to enable iMessage on iOS, macOS, and Apple Watch

QUICK ANSWER

To recover deleted iMessages, you will need to have an iCloud backup or a computer backup of your device from before the iMessages were deleted. Then you have to erase the device and install the previous backup, which will bring your deleted iMessages back. However, anything that had accumulated on the device after that backup was made will be lost.


JUMP TO KEY SECTIONS

How to recover deleted iMessages from iCloud

First, you need to find out the time of the last backup. There’s no point going forward with this and then finding out that your iMessages are already gone. Go to Settings and tap your photo at the top of the screen.

ios settings icloud tab

Now go to iCloud–>Manage Storage–>Backups. This screen will show you all of the backups made for each Apple device.

icloud backups

Tap the device you are currently on, and you will see details of that backup. What you immediately need to look at is the date and time of the last backup. In my case, it was 9.45 am this morning, which would be bad if I had deleted my iMessages last night. This is why you need to be quick. An iCloud backup can happen as soon as it’s connected to power.

iphone backup

If you see that you have a backup that pre-dates the deletion of your messages, then, unfortunately, the only thing you can do is to erase your device and then restore from the backup. This means any data on your phone from after the backup will be lost.

So you need to ask yourself if these deleted iMessages are worth the hassle of resetting your phone and potentially losing other data into the bargain. It may be worth just cutting your losses and perhaps asking the other person in the iMessage for screenshots.

iphone reset

If you’re still determined to reset the device and recover those messages, go to Settings–>General–>Transfer Or Reset iPhone. At the bottom of the screen, select Erase All Contents & Settings and follow the on-screen instructions. Do NOT backup your device first!

When the erased iPhone asks you if you want to restore from a backup, select the one that will contain your deleted iMessages.

How to recover deleted iMessages from iTunes or Finder

If your backup is on a computer instead of iCloud, then the process is not that difficult either. Attach your phone to the computer using a Lightning cable.

Windows PC

Open iTunes and then click the small phone icon at the top.

windows itunes
Mark O'Neill / Android Authority

In the Backups section, you will see the date and time of the latest backup.

windows itunes backup UI

Click Restore Backup, and the last backup will be installed on your device, overwriting the current contents.

macOS

On a Mac, open Finder and click the name of your device in the sidebar. You will now see the same interface as iTunes. As with iTunes, check the date and time of the last backup. If it will have your deleted messages on it, click Restore Backup and let it do its work.

ios backup macos finder

Contact your phone carrier

Virgin Mobile MVNO carrier logo on phone stock photo 2

It might be possible that your phone carrier will have a copy of recent text messages sent to and from your device. If you ask them, they may be able to provide you with copies. However, this is where we need to point out the difference between an iMessage and a regular SMS message.

iMessage is an encrypted messaging platform operated by Apple — therefore, your phone carrier will have no access to those messages and cannot help you with copies. On the other hand, if you sent a regular SMS message through the iMessage platform (to a non-Apple device), then your phone carrier will likely have copies of your most recent ones. Call them and see if luck is on your side.


Read more: How to find out why your iMessage is not working

FAQs

If your phone carrier cannot help you, then there are various paid third-party apps that claim to be able to do it. However, success is not guaranteed, you may end up damaging your device, and your iPhone warranty may be voided as a result. Also, you also have to take the privacy aspect into account, letting an unknown third-party get into your phone. Erasing your phone and restoring from a backup may be annoying and inconvenient, but it is still the best way if those messages are truly irreplaceable.

iMessages are encrypted messages sent over Apple servers, so they have no access to them. However, regular SMS messages are a completely different story. They are not encrypted and are sent through your phone carrier’s plan.