How to Retrieve Deleted Text Messages on Your iPhone

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Deleting a text that you don’t think you need is as easy as a swipe of your finger and a couple of taps, but what if you regret your choice, end up needing the info in the text later on, and want to undelete your iPhone message? Is there a way to recover deleted text messages on your iPhone? Yes, in fact, there are several ways you can try and restore a text you wiped.

Mind you, Messages do not have a trash folder, so whenever you delete a text, it gets removed. To restore a valuable deleted text, you’ll need to reach for your phone backups. Here are your options.

Best ways to recover deleted text messages on an iPhone

If you are determined to retrieve deleted text messages on your iPhone, you can look through your backups to see if you have backups that were made after you got your message but before you deleted it. If you have a backup created in that time slot, you should be able to restore your lost info. Alternatively, you can also contact your phone network operator to see if they store your texts and are able to help you out.

Let’s look through all the ways how to undelete messages on iPhone.

Restoring texts from an iCloud backup

If you’ve made an iCloud backup for your phone before you deleted your text, you can restore that backup on your phone to return the lost message.

Note that messages you have received after the backup along with any photos or other information you’ve created or saved on your phone after that backup will get overwritten once you restore your selected backup on your iPhone. This means you will lose information created after the selected backup was made.

Consider copying to an outside storage anything you’ve created since the last backup before restoring in order to be able to access the info after your phone gets overwritten by the backup you plan on restoring on your iPhone.

To check if you have a suitable backup, go to Settings on your iPhone and tap your name at the top of the menu. Go to iCloud > Manage Storage > Backups.

Look through the backups you got listed there and select the one you want to restore.

iphone backup

After you’ve made sure that you have the right backup, go Settings > General > Software Update.

software update iphone

Check that your device is up to date. If there are any updates available, install them.

Now you need to erase your device and restore it from the suitable iCloud backup that you’ve spotted in the steps above. Copy any information you think might not be in the backup, otherwise you will end up losing it.

Now it’s time to erase all data. Go to Settings > General > Reset:

erase all iphone

There, tap Erase All Content and Settings.

This will erase everything from your phone, so triple check you have copies of and/or ways to restore everything you might need.

When your phone boots back up, go through the setup steps and choose to restore your phone from an iCloud backup. Sign in with your Apple ID and choose the backup you want to restore from.

Do not try this option if you are not sure everything you have on your phone is thoroughly backed up and if you stand to lose important information or settings.

Recovering text messages from Finder

This step discusses how to retrieve deleted messages if you have backed up your phone to your Mac. This means restoring your phone from a backup on your Mac, as you cannot just individually restore messages even with this method.

If you are using a Mac with macOS 10.15 or later, your backup will be done via Finder. For older macOS, iTunes manages the backup.

To restore your iPhone through Finder, open Finder, find the name of your device under Locations, and click on it.

finder backup messages

If you have a backup of your phone on your Mac, you will be able to find it under General in the button bar of the Finder window. Click it and find Restore Backup at the bottom right of the menu.

Choose the backup that you want to restore and click Restore.

Note that you’ll be asked for a password of an encrypted backup, so have it handy if you have previously encrypted your backups.

This method works just as an iCloud restore, so it requires you to have previously backed up your iPhone to your Mac.

Besides the built-in iPhone backup tools, you can actually use other apps to do the task for you. For example, if you want a comprehensive backup manager, you can try AnyTrans. In addition to just backing up your devices, this app offers a lot of functionality when it comes to transferring files between devices, migrating information between devices, transferring local libraries, and more.

anytrans mac

You can use the tool to back up your Messages:

anytrans ios mac

Recovering deleted texts without overwriting your iPhone

If you want to know how to recover deleted text on an iPhone without completely overwriting it, there’s an option you can try. This does not work for everyone, but reportedly some people have managed to restore texts this way. You will have to check for yourself if it works for you, and here’s how to do it.

If your Messages have been synced to your iCloud (the toggle was on next to Messages in Settings > your name > iCloud menu), you might be able to actually find them in your Apple ID account when logging to icloud.com and then sync to your phone. At least, that’s what some users recommend trying.

To see if your messages were synced to iCloud, log in to icloud.com with your Apple ID and look through the app icons on your home page:

icloud text recovery

If you see the Messages icon there, tap on it, and browse to see if you can find the messages that you want to restore. As you can see in our screen, we do not have Messages, which means they weren’t backed up for us. Reportedly, if you can find Messages on your screen on icloud.com and see your missing texts there, it is possible to sync them back to your iPhone.

If you have found your lost texts this way on your iCloud on the web and are happy to just have access to the lost info, you don’t need to do anything else. If you do want to sync the rediscovered message back to your phone, here’s the sequence we’ve found people recommending to do in order to sync the message.

Go to your iPhone Settings, tap your profile name at the top, then iCloud. Find Messages there and move the toggle next to it into an off position. You should be suggested the option Keep on my iPhone, tap on it, then toggle the Messages back on. You should get the Merge option there.

We are not sure this works at all as we were not able to replicate it on our devices, but since this is not as radical as overwriting your phone with an older backup (especially if you haven’t made a backup in a while), could be worth a try. Only try this method if you can find the Messages icon on your iCloud on icloud.com and do spot the right text there.

Contacting your phone provider

If you tried all the above options in vain, there’s one more answer to the question how to get old text messages back on your iPhone – contacting your phone carrier.

To contact your carrier, you can log in to your web profile on the carrier page and contact a chat operator there. If you have your carrier’s app installed on your phone, you should be able to get a hold of their support person there.

You can also call carrier hotline – the number should be one of the contacts on your SIM or you can find it on the carrier website. Alternatively, you can find your carrier’s store in your area and ask the employees there.

Bonus tips for your iPhone

Now that iPhone text messages recovery is out of the way, you might find yourself reevaluating the size of your iPhone backups. Large backups take forever to save and restore, they also take up a lot of storage. This can be annoying regardless of whether you are using your Mac to back up your phone or your iCloud storage.

One way to reduce your backup size is trimming down your photo library. Media files can get pretty large so cleaning them up can reduce the amount of storage you are using fast. You can go through your photos and delete them manually in the Photos app or you can use helper apps to make the process more efficient.

One such app is Gemini. It spots duplicates and similar images and helps you go through your photo library quickly and effortlessly.

gemini ios

The macOS version of Gemini can help you clean up even more duplicates on your Mac.

gemini mac

Conclusion

Now that you know how to get your messages back on your iPhone, you will probably think twice before deleting any message from now on since the process can be quite daunting and unless you are sure you have backed up your device after you receive an important message, you can never be sure you will get it back after deleting it.

When it comes to your options, you can try and restore lost information from your iCloud and Mac backups, if you’ve made any. You can also use external services like AnyTrans to create copies of your info and then restore it, transfer information to a new phone, manage your media libraries, and more.

It’s likely that in the process of figuring out how to retrieve deleted text messages on your iPhone you will notice how large a full phone backup can get. Use apps like Gemini to find and remove duplicate photos from your phone to hopefully help reduce the size of your backups.

You can try AnyTrans and Gemini with your Setapp subscription. Don’t have Setapp? It’s a suite with over 210 apps for productivity, task management, creativity, and streamlining day-to-day tasks on your Mac and iPhone. Try out Setapp with a 7-day free trial to find out for yourself whether app discovery made easy is what’s been lacking from your workflow all this time!

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