How to recover deleted iPhone messages

It's happened to everyone. You're busy, you get a message and then something goes wrong. Your entire conversation was just deleted. Now what?

It's happened to everyone.

You're going about your day, and a message comes in on your phone. You're busy, but you're able to pull your phone out in between emails, meetings, and that third espresso. However, something went wrong, and now you've managed to fat-finger something, deleting the entire conversation.

To top it off, your co-worker used the microwave to reheat leftover fish.

Now what?

Generally speaking, when you delete messages or conversations on your iPhone, that's it. You won't find a "recently deleted" section in iOS for messages, nor is there a recycle bin from which you can rescue things. Once it's gone, it's gone.

Here's the good news: If you have iCloud, and it's been syncing messages, your old history is probably still available from another one of your Apple devices.

Grab your MacBook or iMac, for example, and make sure it's not connected to the internet (so that deletion doesn't have a chance to sync). You should be able to pull up the conversation (or message) and save it as a PDF (by "printing" it), at the very least. You can also view (and copy) your conversations directly from Finder if you navigate to this folder: 

~/Library/Containers/com.apple.iChat/Data/Library/Messages/Archive

While you can always try the "restore from an older backup" route, this method might not work. That's because it's unclear just how Apple prioritized mismatches in iCloud data.

For example, if the conversation you deleted was critical, and you restore from a backup, there's no way to know which changes would override what already exists in iCloud. If anything, your iCloud-synchronized messages would replace whatever's on your device.

If you're on an iPad, you could use a (paid) program like iExplorer to export your messages before iCloud synchronizes your deletions.

Of course, this is all a moot point if you don't sync your messages to iCloud.

Check out our services: