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Recovering Lost or Deleted Text Messages in iOS

November 30, 2022

The Messages app on your iPhone is one of the most used apps for most people. These days, we are sending dozens of texts every day, replete with Memojis, photos, and videos that take up space.

It surprises many users when they realize how much space the Messages app is taking up on their phone – it can hold many GBs of photos and videos!

Turning on automatic message deletion is often recommended for users who don’t have enough space on their phone. That said, you can end up deleting messages that you later want to see!

We will show you several ways you can go about getting your messages back.

Restoring Deleted Text Messages From iCloud.com

This first method doesn’t work for everyone, but if it does work, it is easy and avoids having to reset your phone.

Follow these steps to recover deleted messages:

1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone and tap on your Apple ID.

img  Apple ID 473x1024 - Recovering Lost or Deleted Text Messages in iOS

2. Tap on iCloud.

img  icloud settings 473x1024 - Recovering Lost or Deleted Text Messages in iOS

3. Toggle the Messages tab off.

img  messages off 473x1024 - Recovering Lost or Deleted Text Messages in iOS

4. Tap on Disable and Download Messages. This should download all your messages from iCloud to your phone.

img  Disable and download 473x1024 - Recovering Lost or Deleted Text Messages in iOS

5. Turn iCloud Messages back on once you’ve downloaded and hopefully found your lost messages.
As noted, this does not work for everyone. There are other solutions as well, but many of them are more invasive and require more work.

Restoring Messages From iCloud Backup

If you have a backup of your iPhone from before you deleted or lost your text messages, you should be able to retrieve them, but it will mean restoring your phone to a previously backed up version.

1. Open the Settings app and tap on your Apple ID.

img  Apple ID 473x1024 - Recovering Lost or Deleted Text Messages in iOS

2. Tap on iCloud.

img  icloud settings 473x1024 - Recovering Lost or Deleted Text Messages in iOS

3. Tap on Manage Storage.

ig  manage storage 473x1024 - Recovering Lost or Deleted Text Messages in iOS

4. Tap on Backups.

img  backups 473x1024 - Recovering Lost or Deleted Text Messages in iOS

5. You should see a list of available backups. Tap a backup, and you will see when it was saves. Make sure that you have selected the correct device.

img  list of backups 473x1024 - Recovering Lost or Deleted Text Messages in iOS

6. Take a look at the backup. It will have the date attached to it. If you can find a suitable backup that was taken before the message was deleted, then you can move on to the next step.

img  backup info 473x1024 - Recovering Lost or Deleted Text Messages in iOS

7. In order to restore the messages, you need to completely reset your iPhone. You will lose any data that you have added since the last backup. For this reason, make sure to backup your phone before resetting your phone.

8. In the Settings app, tap on General and then tap the Reset section.

img  general reset 473x1024 - Recovering Lost or Deleted Text Messages in iOS

9. Tap on Erase All Content. It will take a few minutes, but eventually your phone will come to life and ask you to restore from a backup, at which time you can select the backup that has your deleted text messages.

img  erase all content 473x1024 - Recovering Lost or Deleted Text Messages in iOS

Obviously, this method is not ideal, as it requires resetting your entire iPhone.
You could theoretically restore your iPhone to the old backup, save the messages you want to save, and then repeat the process and restore the iPhone to the most recent backup, so that you don’t lose any data.

That said, there are a few more options to cover.

Restoring Your Messages From Finder/iTunes

If you do not do iCloud backups, you could also recover your messages from a backup on iTunes or Finder. This method will also overwrite all of the data on your phone that is newer than the backup. We recommend backing up before you try it, so that you do not lose anything.

1. Connect your phone to the Mac or PC you use to back up your phone.

2. You should see an iPhone icon in the top left-hand corner. You can then click on Restore Backup to restore the phone to it’s old state.

Restoring Messages by Contacting Phone Provider

If you desperately need old messages, you should try contacting your phone provider. Some companies will keep a record of text messages and you should be entitled to see them.

Keep in mind, this will only work for SMS messages, not iMessages. SMS messages are sent through your cell provider, whereas iMessages are send using data.

Some providers will let you access your text messages by logging into your online account. Others don’t keep messages at all. Either way, it does not hurt to ask.

Restoring Messages with a Third-Party App

Another last-ditch method to try is third-party apps designed to rescue deleted messages. After you’ve deleted messages, they will remain your device until overwritten. This means you can sometimes recover them, but there are no guarantees.

You should try to recover the messages as fast as possible, as the older the message, the more likely it was deleted forever.

PhoneRescue, WonderShare Dr. Fone, and Tenorshare Data Recovery are all apps that can help you recover lost text messages.

Restoring Messages; Final Thoughts

Restoring messages is tough – once you delete something, it is hard to un-delete something! That said, with these troubleshooting tips, you can almost certainly get your messages back, even if it takes restoring your iPhone.

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