How to Recover Deleted Text Messages on Any Phone

Get that text back

Concept of data receiving on blackboard

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One moment you're tapping away on your phone, breezily texting with the people in your life, and then you realize an important text message you sent is gone. If you don't yet know how to retrieve deleted text messages, you're probably freaking out. Not to worry! You can get deleted text messages back on any phone.

This article covers text recovery options for iPhones running iOS 12, iOS 11, and iOS 10, as well as third-party options that are available for recovery on phones running Android 2.3 through Android 9.0.

How to Recover Deleted Text Messages for iPhone

As iPhone users know, iCloud and iTunes are handy options for keeping their data backed up, and those backups can be lifesavers when you are missing text messages. If you've been backing up your iPhone to iCloud or iTunes, you have a good shot at recovering the text message you deleted.

Recover Deleted iPhone Text Messages Using iCloud

The process involves restoring your device with data from a recent iCloud backup. Any messages that were present on your phone at the time of the backup are retrievable.

This method is not for the faint of heart. You delete the data currently stored on your iPhone and then restore your iPhone with the data from a recent backup. Any new messages or other content that happened after the last backup is lost.

  1. Go to Settings > General. Then, scroll down and tap Reset.

  2. Tap Erase All Content and Settings.

    General, Reset, and Erase All Content and Settings in the iOS Settings app
  3. Turn on your iPhone and begin setting it up as if it were new.

  4. When you arrive at the window titled Apps and Data, select Restore from iCloud Backup.

    Alternatively, you can choose to Restore from iTunes Backup if you've been backing up directly to your computer using iTunes.

  5. Your iPhone may ask you to sign in to your iCloud account using your Apple ID and password. Do so to proceed.

  6. A list of recent backups appears. If there is more than one backup, you may choose the backup you want to use by checking its date and time.

    Only data and messages present on your device at the time the backup occurred appear on your iPhone after the restoration process finishes.

  7. Wait for a while as the data transfer process completes. Once it's done, you should have all the messages and data you had at the time of the backup you selected.

Recover Deleted iPhone Text Messages Using iTunes

If you regularly sync your iPhone with iTunes on your Mac rather than iCloud, iTunes has a backup available from each time you synced – unless you turned off the feature to automatically sync your iPhone with your computer. If you want to get that text message back and you've been backing up your iPhone to your computer, then you can likely retrieve it using a recent backup.

This method erases the data currently on your iPhone and replaces it with a snapshot of the data that was on your iPhone the last time you backed it up. If you aren't comfortable doing this, you may prefer another method.

  1. Connect your iPhone to your computer using an appropriate cable. Your iPhone may ask you to unlock it. If it does, go ahead and do so.

  2. If iTunes doesn't open automatically, open iTunes on your computer manually.

  3. To find your iPhone in iTunes, look for a small icon for your iPhone just below and to the right of the Play button. Select it. If you have more than one connected device, select iPhone from the drop-down menu.

    Selecting iPhone in iTunes
  4. In the Backups section on the right side of the Summary screen, you should see options to manually back up and restore your iPhone, along with the date and method of your most recent backup. Select Restore Backup to proceed.

    Restoring iPhone backup from iTunes
  5. The most recent backup replaces all the data on your phone. The process takes a while. You should see your missing text messages if your most recent backup took place before they were deleted.

Recover With a Third-Party App for iPhone

If neither of the above methods works for you, the next option is to try a third-party app to recover your deleted text messages. There are plenty of apps out there designed to help you recover deleted text messages, many of which offer free trials and can be used to recover other types of lost data from an iPhone as well.

Enigma Recovery app on iOS

Some of the text message recovery apps for iPhone that get positive reviews include:

Recover With a Third-Party App for Android

The story is a little different if you're retrieving deleted texts on a Samsung Galaxy or another Android phone. Because Google's cloud service doesn't back up text messages, your best bet is to use a message recovery app to recover deleted texts. Then, get into the habit of regularly backing up your phone so you're covered in the future.

Three screens from Android's SMS Backup & Restore app

This information applies no matter who made your Android phone: Samsung, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi, or another manufacturer.

These apps often offer free trials and include the ability to recover other types of data from your Android, which can come in handy. Some of the third-party apps for recovering deleted texts on Android that get positive nods online include:

It is stressful to realize you accidentally deleted an important message, but with some patience and the right tools, you can often recover the deleted messages. By regularly backing up your iPhone or Android device, you can have the peace of mind of knowing you'll never lose another important text message.