How to Delete Text Messages on iPhone

Get rid of single messages or entire conversations

What to Know

  • Tap and hold a message. Then, tap More > trash can > Delete Message, or tap Delete All to delete the whole conversation.
  • Another way to delete a conversation: Swipe right on the conversation and select trash can > Delete.
  • Or, from the messages list, tap and hold the conversation and select Delete > Delete.

This article explains how to delete a text message from the Messages app on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 12 and later. We'll demonstrate how to delete a single message or an entire conversation. There's no way to recover deleted texts, so make sure it's what you want to do.

How to Delete Single Text Messages on iPhone

If you want to delete a few individual messages from a conversation while leaving the rest of the messages in the conversation untouched, follow these steps:

  1. Tap Messages to open it.

  2. Tap the conversation that has the messages you want to delete in it.

    Three iOS screens, showing Messages icon, text message in list, and the message to delete
  3. With the conversation open, tap and hold the message you want to delete until the menu pops up. Then tap More.

  4. A circle appears next to each individual message.

  5. Tap the circle next to a message to mark that message for deletion. A checkbox appears in that box, indicating that it will be deleted.

  6. Tap the circle next to all the messages you want to delete.

  7. Tap the trash can icon.

  8. Tap the Delete Message button in the pop-up menu (earlier versions of the iOS may have slightly different options in the menus, but they're similar enough that it shouldn't be confusing).

    Three iOS screens showing More button, Checkbox next to messages to delete, and Delete 3 Messages confirmation button

    Or, tap Delete All from the top left if you want to delete the entire conversation. If you change your mind about deleting any texts, tap Cancel.

Illustration of a young man frantically deleting texts from his iPhone
Lifewire / Catherine Song

How to Delete Entire Text Message Conversations on iPhone

Deleting an entire conversation in Messages requires a different set of steps. Here's how:

  1. Begin by opening Messages.

  2. If you were in a conversation when you last used the app, you'll return to that. In that case, tap the back arrow (or the Messages button, depending on what version of iOS you're running) in the top left corner to go to the list of conversations.

  3. Once you've found the conversation you want to delete, swipe right to left across it, and tap the trash can. Press Delete to confirm. Tap Cancel if you change your mind.

    Tap the trash can to delete a conversation

    If you're using a current iOS version, there's another option: From the messages list, tap and hold the conversation and select Delete > Delete.

    What to Do if Deleted Texts Keep Appearing on iPhone

    In some cases, texts that you've deleted can still be found on your phone. This may not be a big deal, but it can definitely be a problem if you're trying to keep some information private.

    If you're running into this problem, or want to know how to avoid it, check out Deleted Messages Still Showing Up? Do This.

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