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How to recover deleted messages on the iPhone

Have you just deleted an important text message? Here’s how to recover deleted messages on your iPhone.

Unlike many other Apple apps, there is no ‘recently deleted’ or rubbish bin function in the Messages app. This means that once a message is gone, it’s gone.

There is a way to recover a deleted message though, courtesy of iCloud, but it’s quite an extreme method. Thanks to Apple’s automatic backup facility, there’s a fair chance you won’t lose your message forever, but you will need to wipe and restore your iPhone.

WARNING: These messages will be deleted forever, so make sure that you really want the deleted message before you wipe your phone. The same is true of any other data from after the backup.

What we used

  • We used the iPhone 13 Pro, but these methods will work on any iPhone

The Short Version

  • Open Apple ID in Settings
  • Manage Storage
  • Check your backups
  • Erase All Content and Settings
  • Select language and Set up Manually
  • Select Wi-Fi, password, and Face ID
  • Apps & Data backup
  • Choose your backup
  • Set up Wallet
  • iPhone Analytics and finishing up
  1. Step
    1

    Open Apple ID in Settings

    First open Settings, then tap your Apple ID picture at the top of the page.iOS Settings Apple ID

  2. Step
    2

    Manage Storage

    Tap iCloud, then Manage Storage.iOS iCloud storage backup

  3. Step
    3

    Check your backups

    Tap Backups, then tap on your iPhone. Check the date of the back-ups stored for your device. If you’ve acted sufficiently quickly on that deleted message, you’ll have an iCloud backup from before the deletion, and you can proceed to the next stage.iOS Backup restore

  4. Step
    4

    Erase All Content and Settings

    Enter the Settings app and head to General. Now scroll down to the bottom and hit Transfer or Reset iPhone, followed by Erase All Content and Settings. Press Continue to wipe your iPhone.iOS backup delete factory reset

  5. Step
    5

    Select language and Set up Manually

    Swipe up at the Hello screen, then select your language and country. Tap Set up Manually.iOS setup hello language

  6. Step
    6

    Select Wi-Fi, password, and Face ID

    Selecting your local Wi-Fi network and input a password when asked. Press Next, then Continue on to the Data & Privacy screen. Click Continue again to Set up Face ID.

  7. Step
    7

    Apps & Data backup

    At the Apps & Data screen, tap the Restore from iCloud Backup option at the top, and sign in using your Apple ID. Continue or authenticate when asked.iOS restore Apps & Data

  8. Step
    8

    Choose your backup

    Select the backup you identified at step 3, then hit Continue.

  9. Step
    9

    Set up Wallet

    At this point you’ll need to select any of the Previous Cards that you had set-up in Apple Wallet. Select or de-select the ones you want to keep or discard, then authenticate using their security numbers when asked.Apple Wallet iOS setup

  10. Step
    10

    Share data and finishing up

    Finally, on the iPhone Analytics, opt whether you want to share data with Apple for analytical purposes or not. Now wait for Restore from iCloud to finish.

    Eventually, your iPhone will reboot. When it does, your home screen – and all of your old messages – will be restored.iOS restore iCloud

FAQs

What will happen to the messages sent after the backup?

These messages will be deleted forever, so make sure that you really want the deleted message before you wipe your phone. The same is true of any other data from after the backup.

Will my operator have my old messages?

Some operators will both store and grant access to your old messages, so it could we worth getting in contact using the relevant customer services number to find out.

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