How to Recover Deleted Text Message on iPhones

Don't worry, we'll help you get your messages back

Guy sending message on iPhone

Artur Debat / Getty Images

Have you accidentally deleted an important text message from your iPhone? Perhaps you've lost your phone but hope to retrieve your conversations on a new device. Here's how to retrieve your deletes texts and iMessages and potentially recover what you've lost.

How to Retrieve Deleted Texts Using iCloud

The first step to successfully recovering your text messages is to check whether or not you have Messages in iCloud turned on for your device. This feature from Apple allows you to save your text messages to the cloud in the event your device is lost, stolen, or ceases to function.

To check whether you have the feature enabled:

  1. Open the Settings app and tap your name at the top of the screen. Then, tap the iCloud menu option.

    screenshot - The path to the iCloud menu on an iPhone
  2. Scroll down to check if the Messages toggle is enabled. If it isn't, tap it to turn it on/green.

    screenshot - The Messages toggle in the iCloud settings on an iPhone
  3. If you've purchased a new device or have restored your current phone and believe you had Messages in iCloud turned on, the conversations will appear once your iPhone is set up and you're signed in with your Apple ID.

If you have Messages in iCloud enabled but have manually deleted a message, it's most likely lost. The Messages in iCloud service works as a synchronization tool between your devices, so any messages you choose to delete are instantly removed from the cloud. However, if you don't have Messages in iCloud enabled, it's possible your old text messages have been saved in either an iCloud or iTunes backup.

Users utilizing Messages in iCloud will be unable to restore any messages via an iCloud or iTunes backup, as the backup does not include standard text messages or iMessages once Messages in iCloud is switched on.

Recover a Deleted Text Message on iPhone Using an iCloud Backup

If your iPhone automatically backs itself up to iCloud, it may be possible to restore your entire device to an earlier point in time.

Restoring your iPhone to a previous point in time will cause any new changes to your device after the specified time period to be lost. Items may include newer text messages, photos, videos, notes, and more.

Begin by checking when your latest iCloud backup took place. If the last backup took place during a time when the messages were still present on the device, it may be possible to pull your iPhone back in time to recover those messages.

To check when your latest iCloud backup took place:

  1. Return to the iCloud menu by going to Settings, tapping your name at the top of the screen, and then tapping iCloud.

  2. If the iCloud Backup toggle is on or green, look at the bottom of the screen to see when your last backup took place.

    If iCloud Backup isn't on, you can't currently restore your device using this method.

    The iCloud Backup menu on an iPhone - screenshort
  3. If you have a recent iCloud backup, you can try to recover your text messages.

Do NOT backup your iPhone to iCloud once you've determined the most recent backup contains your deleted text messages. Doing so will overwrite the old backup with a newer backup that doesn't contain the messages.

If your most recent iCloud backup was before you deleted the texts, restore your iPhone from the backup. The process is the same on iPad and iPhone.

How to Retrieve Deleted Texts Using an iTunes Backup

If you manually connect your iPhone to your computer to back it up with iTunes, it may be possible to restore your entire device to an earlier point in time using a backup you're storing on your computer.

Restoring your iPhone to a previous point in time will cause any new changes to your device after the specified time period to be lost. Items may include newer text messages, photos, videos, notes, and more.

Begin by checking when your latest iTunes backups took place. If one of the available backups took place during a time when the messages were still present on the device, it may be possible to pull your iPhone back in time to recover those messages.

To check when your latest iTunes backup took place:

  1. Open iTunes on your Mac or PC.

  2. In the menu bar, select the Preferences option.

    The Preferences menu in iTunes - screenshot
  3. In the window that appears, select the Devices tab.

    The devices menu in iTunes - screenshot
  4. If your iPhone has been backed up with iTunes, it will list all backups currently on your computer. Note the different date options available.

    List of device backups in iTunes - screenshot
  5. Restore your iPhone from the backup if you have one that contains the messages you want to recover.

Recover Deleted Texts Messages on iPhone Using a Third-Party Recovery Tool

Many third-party software applications claim to be able to restore any lost data on your iPhone. Two of the most popular options for iPhone data recovery include EaseUS MobiSaver and Gihosoft iPhone Data Recovery.

However, neither of these applications guarantee results as their success rate is based on whether or not your iPhone has already written new data over where your old text messages were restored. However, if you are in a bind, they're a viable last effort.