Sometimes you need more storage space on your phone and decide to delete old text messages to free up space. But then you go on a deleting spree and realize that you accidentally deleted stuff you really wanted to keep. Can you get it back? Happily, there are several different ways you can try and retrieve messages that you didn’t mean to delete.
Restore with iCloud Recovery
iCloud backups are the first option you should look into. It is a really great way to recover accidentally deleted data.
- Open the Settings app. At the top of the screen, you will see your name.
- Under your name will be Apple ID, iCloud, iTunes & App Store. Tap on that option.
- Tap on iCloud. Then scroll down until you see iCloud Backup. Tap on it.
- When the backup opens check the date and time of your last iCloud backup. If it was before you deleted the messages you want then that is good news. You will need to erase your iPhone and restore it with the backup to get your messages back.
- Back in the main menu of the Settings app, tap on General then tap on Reset.
- Select the Erase All Content and Settings option. Remember that most of your settings will be safe when you restore your iCloud backup, but you may need to log in to your apps as if for the first time.
- A confirmation screen will come up. Tap on the second option Erase Now. Do not choose Backup Then Erase! If you do that you will lose the backup you want to restore.
- Follow the step-by-step instructions until you come to the Apps & Data page.
- When you come to the Apps & Data page, select Restore from iCloud Backup.
- You will need to enter any passwords the iCloud Backup asks for. Sign in to iCloud.
- Tap Choose Backup. You will have a list of backups to choose from. Select the most recent one that is before you deleted all of the messages you want back.
Once this is done you may need to sign back in to all of your accounts.
Restore from Your Computer
If you do not update with iCloud or the iCloud backup is after you deleted all of your messages you might be able to recover them from your computer. Apple recommends making a backup of your device on your computer periodically even if you are doing them on iCloud.
- The first thing is you will need to disable the Find My iPhone feature. You cannot restore an iTunes backup while it is on.
- Open the Settings app.
- Tap Apple ID.
- Tap Find My.
- Tap Find My iPhone.
- Slide the button to the Off position. You will need to enter your Apple ID password.
- Connect your iPhone with the computer you usually sync it with.
If you are running an older version of macOS or have a PC, you will need to restore from iTunes. If you have a macOS Catalina you will restore from Finder.
Restore from Finder (macOS Catalina)
- When you have connected your iPhone it should appear in the Finder under Locations. Click on it.
- Click on Manage Backups. A list of backups on your computer will come up.
- Check the list for a backup that was before you deleted all your messages, but after you sent them. Click OK.
- Click Restore iPhone.
- Restoring the iPhone may take some time depending on how large the file is. Follow the prompts and your iPhone will restore to its backed up state.
Restore with iTunes (PC and macOS Mojave and earlier)
- Connect your iPhone to the computer you usually sync it with.
- iTunes will automatically open if you do not already have it running. If it does not, click on the program to open it.
- Click the phone icon next to the media category dropdown on the top left of your screen. If it is not there then you need to connect your iPhone to the computer again.
- Make sure you are on the Summary page.
- Click Restore Backup. If this option is grayed out, you will need to change your backup preferences from iCloud to This Computer.
- The restoration may take a bit depending on how large the file is. If you have synced with your computer since deleting the messages then you are out of luck. iTunes only saves one backup at a time.
Additional Recovery Options
Sometimes you can recover deleted messages by contacting your cell service provider. You will need to call and ask for technical support. Make sure to ask for a representative since there may not be a menu prompt for what you need.
Your absolute last resort should be third-party apps. While there are some good ones out there most of them are a bit sketchy.