How to Delete Messages From WhatsApp

WhatsApp lets you delete messages even after sending them

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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 realize you didn't mean to send them a particular message? 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 to have the latest WhatsApp app installed. 

How to Delete Sent WhatsApp Messages

Deleting a sent WhatsApp message is a fairly simple process, once you know how.

  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.

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

    Steps for deleting individual WhatsApp messages

    Want to delete multiple messages? Tick each message then tap the Trash icon to delete them en masse. Want to delete the message so you can't see it, but the other person can? Tap Delete For Me.

  4. The message now shows "You deleted this message" and is no longer available as part of the conversation. Well done!

How to Delete a Sent Message Before It's Read

If you don't want the recipient to see what you've said, you need to be quick. Here's some things to know about deleting a sent message before it's been read:

These aren't foolproof. If you don't want the person to see what you've sent, don't send the message! 

  • Time limit: You have one hour to delete messages; it's better to delete the message sooner rather than later to minimize the chances of the other person reading it. 
  • Notifications: If the other person has notifications activated so they see a preview of the message coming in, they'll still see what you've sent, even if you delete it afterwards.
  • Color marker: The blue tick to show that a message has been read isn't a guarantee the other person didn't see the notification come in, or hasn't seen a preview of it by looking on the WhatsApp main screen. 
  • Read receipts: If the recipient doesn't have read receipts switched on, you won't know when they've read the message. Again, deleting the message immediately is your best chance of them not having read it. 

How to Delete Received Messages

Sometimes, you might want to delete a received message, like when someone else has access to your phone and you don't want them to see your messages. Here's how to delete messages that have been sent to you. 

  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'll still see what they sent you.

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.