How to Mark Texts as Unread on iPhone

Manage which text messages you've read and which you need to get back to

What to Know

  • Mark as text as unread: Messages > conversation view > Edit > Select Messages > tap conversation > Unread.
  • Another option: Messages > conversation view > swipe left to right > tap blue icon.
  • Lastly: Messages > conversation view > long press > Mark as Unread.

This article provides step-by-step instructions for three ways to mark text messages as unread on an iPhone running iOS 16 or higher. With this information, you can flag messages to return to later when you have time to read and respond to them.

How to Mark a Text as Unread on iPhone

Starting in iOS 16 (and in iPadOS 16 on the iPad), you can mark text messages as unread in the pre-installed Messages texting app (you can also pin conversations to the top of the window and mute notifications for them). If you're running an earlier version of iOS on your iPhone, you don't have this feature and this is one of many good reasons to upgrade your OS.

  1. Go to the Messages view that shows all of your conversations. If you're in a conversation, tap the arrow in the top left corner.

  2. From this screen, there are three ways to mark a text as unread. For the first, tap Edit > Select Messages > tap each conversation you want to mark as unread > Unread.

    Edit, Select Messages, and Unread highlighted in iPhone Message
  3. For another option, swipe left to right across the conversation to reveal the blue message icon. Keep swiping or tap the icon.

    For a conversation that is marked as unread, repeat this action and you can mark it as read without opening the chat.

  4. Lastly, long press the conversation and tap Mark as Unread from the pop-up menu.

    Blue Message icon and Mark as unread in iPhone Messages

All three ways to mark texts as unread can also be used for two other useful ways to manage your text messages (if you're swiping across the conversation, go from right to left instead). You can Pin a conversation to the top of your Messages window or mute a conversation so a busy chat doesn't spam you with a ton of notifications (tap the bell with the line through it).

Unread Text Messages and Read Receipts

Some Messages users have enabled Read Receipts, a feature that lets the person who they're texting with know when they've read the text the other person has sent. Marking a text as unread using these instructions doesn't change the status of a Read Receipt.

If you have read a text and a Read Receipt has been sent (you'll see the status just below the latest text within the conversation), marking the text doesn't change what the person you're talking to sees. They still get the Read Receipt. Marking as unread only changes the status of the message on your iPhone.

How to Filter Messages to Show Only Unread Texts on iPhone

If you only want to see unread texts, here's the setting to change:

  1. Go to Settings > Messages.

  2. Move Filter Unknown Senders to on/green.

  3. In Messages, tap Filters in the top left corner.

    Messages, Filter Unknown Senders, and Filters highlighted in iPhone Messages
  4. Your texts are now grouped based on whether you know the sender or don't (a great way to avoid spam texts), if messages are recently deleted, and if messages are unread.

  5. Tap Unread Messages to see only the conversations that have texts marked as unread in them.

    Unread Messages and Unread texts highlighted in iPhone Messages
  • How do I mark spam texts on my iPhone?

    To mark a text as spam on iPhone, open the spam text in Messages, then tap the phone number > info > phone number > Block this Caller > Block Contact. If it's a text you signed up for, reply to it with “stop” or “unsubscribe.”

  • How do I mark all texts as read on my iPhone?

    In Messages, go to conversation view and tap Edit > Select Message, then tap Read All at the bottom to mark all iPhone texts as read.

  • How do I mark an email as unread in iPhone Mail?

    To mark an iPhone email as unread, select the Reply button, then choose Mark as Unread. To mark multiple emails from the mailbox folder, select Edit, choose each email you want to mark, then choose Mark > Mark as Unread.

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