Accidentally delete a conversation in the Messages app on your iPhone or iPad running iOS 16? Easily recover them and move them back into the Messages app with this quick tip.

Vector picture of a phone with a conversation about to be deleted.
Image: Apple

With iOS 16, Apple is making it easier to do a lot of new tasks in the mobile operating system, and in some cases, do something that was never able to be done before. One of those new things that you can do in iOS 16 is undelete conversations that you might have removed in the Messages app by accident.

We’ve all been there: We’re cleaning up the Messages app threads, and then swipe and delete on the wrong one, only to have all of the message history deleted for that contact or group. With iOS 16, you can now recover accidentally deleted messages right from within the Messages app.

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When you delete a message thread in iOS 16, the messages now go into a holding space for up to 40 days, then they will be removed forever from the device itself (Figure A).

Figure A

Recently deleted items can be viewed by showing them from the Edit menu.
Recently deleted items can be viewed by showing them from the Edit menu.

To undelete a message, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Messages app in iOS or iPadOS 16.
  2. Select the Edit button from the top left of the screen.
  3. Select the Show Recently Deleted option (Figure B).

Figure B

Recovering deleted conversations can happen in the recovery view here.
Recovering deleted conversations can happen in the recovery view here.

The Recently Deleted view shows all of the message conversations that were, well, recently deleted. Tap Delete All or Recover All to delete or recover all the messages in this list, or tap to select individual conversations, then subsequently Delete Selected or Recover Selected to recover only a subset of the recently deleted conversations.

The Recently Deleted view will display all messages that are removed, regardless of whether you deleted an iMessage, SMS or an individual message from within a thread.

Messages in this view will be removed after some time — iOS will hold onto the deleted conversations for up to 40 days, then delete them when this time period lapses. Deleting them from the Recently Deleted section will remove them immediately without this waiting period. Recovering conversations from this view will move them back into the Messages app and they will be available to search and view once again.

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