How to Delete Messages From WhatsApp

WhatsApp lets you delete messages even after sending them

WhatsApp is a great messaging platform for communicating with friends and colleagues no matter where you are in the world, but what do you do when you send a message by mistake? Here's how to delete WhatsApp messages, and what limitations there are along the way. 

To delete messages so neither you nor the recipient can see them, you both need the latest version of WhatsApp installed.

How to Delete Sent WhatsApp Messages

Deleting a sent WhatsApp message is a fairly simple process, once you know how to do it. Here's how to delete a message you’ve sent to an individual or group chat:

  1. Go to the relevant conversation window and find the message you want to delete. 

  2. Hold your finger to the message until the extra options dialog menu appears.

    You can select more than one message if you want to delete multiples all at once.

  3. Tap Delete > the Trash icon > Delete for Everyone.

    Steps for deleting individual WhatsApp messages

    Want to delete the message so you can't see it, but the other person can? Tap Delete For Me.

  4. The message is now replaced with "This message was deleted" and is no longer available as part of the conversation. Well done!

How to Delete Received Messages

Sometimes, you might want to delete your copy of the messages you send or receive from your phone. Here's how:

  1. Go to the relevant conversation window and find the message you want to delete.

  2. Hold your finger down on the message.

  3. Tap Delete > Delete for Me

    Steps for deleting a received message on WhatsApp

    You can't delete someone else's sent message. They still see what they sent you.

Things to Keep in Mind About Deleting WhatsApp Messages

Although the Delete for Everyone option is a good way to get rid of messages you no longer want to be seen on WhatsApp, it's not a perfect solution. There are a few things to keep in mind:

  • People using WhatsApp for iOS may still have any media you sent them saved on their device, even after the message is deleted.
  • If the other person has notifications activated so they see a preview of the message coming in, they can still see what you sent, even if you delete it afterward.
  • Recipients can still see your message before it's deleted or if deletion wasn’t successful.
  • WhatsApp doesn't notify you if deleting for everyone wasn’t successful.
  • The Delete for Everyone option is only available for about an hour after you send a message.
  • If the recipient doesn't have read receipts switched on, you won't know when they read the message. Deleting the message immediately is your best chance of them not reading it. 
  • Ultimately, the best way to keep people from reading a message is to just not send it.

How to Recover Deleted WhatsApp Messages

Deleting a WhatsApp message isn't permanent, but it's tricky to retrieve or recover deleted messages. Here are some options on how to do that.

It's safest to assume that once you've deleted a message, it's gone forever. Think carefully before deleting a message. 

  • Re-install WhatApp: Both iOS and Android users can restore deleted messages by uninstalling and re-installing WhatsApp, then tap Restore Chat History to restore from the automated backup from either iCloud or Google Drive.
  • Ask a friend: Don't have a backup set up? Ask the other person in the conversation if they could re-send the message or relevant information. You never know. They may be able to provide you with it. 

View-Once Messages in WhatsApp

Another option you have in WhatsApp for extra security are "view once" messages. Turn this feature on before you send something (you can't toggle it on permanently), and texts and images will disappear as soon as the recipient views them. View-once messages don't allow starring, forwarding, starring, or sharing, and they're encrypted end-to-end like anything else you send in WhatsApp.

Message Expiration in WhatsApp

Another feature in WhatsApp is letting older messages delete themselves. You have three choices for how long they'll stick around: 24 hours, seven days, and 90 days. Once that period expires, the message will disappear from both your device and the recipient's. Another option is to set an expiration period for messages for new chats by default, so you don't have to remember to turn it on every time.

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