How to Delete iMessages From Both Sides (7 Ways)

How to Delete iMessages From Both Sides

At least once in life, we are all likely to experience the sent text regret. In fact, most people have already. Sending a text message that you wish you didn’t send can put you in a desperate situation.

This often happens when you say certain things in the message that you later have a second thought about, or when you send a sensitive message to the wrong recipient.

The bottom line is that these messages might hurt the other person’s feelings, or affect how they see you, or be embarrassing for you, or reveal information to them they should not be privy to.

iMessaging, the most popular messaging app among iPhone users, allows you to exchange messages with other iOS users using the internet as opposed to mobile subscriber charges. You can easily use it to exchange text and photos.

Can You Delete iMessage From Both Sides?

Unfortunately, unlike other popular chat apps like WhatsApp (with limitations) and Telegram, iMessage does not allow you to delete an iMessage for both yourself and the recipient, using just your own device. Yes, there have been suggestions that this feature may be available in the future, but for now, you can only normally delete an iMessage for yourself, from your own device.

Why Can’t You Delete iMessage For Both Sides?

When you send an iMessage, that message goes first to Apple’s messaging servers and then gets delivered immediately from there to the recipient’s device. This process is called Syncing.

And that’s why, even if the status of the message is on Sending (maybe because the recipient’s internet connection isn’t on, or slow internet connection on your end), the message cannot be aborted because it has already reached Apple’s servers for syncing.

It is only on rare occasions where the iMessage returns the Not Delivered error that you can be sure that the recipient did not receive the iMessage. Still, if you have the option to Send as SMS turned on, the iMessage will get sent as an SMS instead which also cannot be retracted.

However, when you send an iMessage and immediately regret it while it’s on Sending, you could quickly turn on Airplane mode and leave it for 5 minutes. If you were quick enough to do this (one to two seconds) before the message reached the Apple servers, you would be asked to resend the message when you turn the network back on. Then you can decline to.

In all, deleting an iMessage that has already been sent will only delete it from your device and from your other synced devices on your iCloud.

When You Delete Messages on iPhone Does it Delete for the Other Person?

As stated earlier, when you delete iMessages from your device, it does not delete for the other person. However, it is possible to delete that message from the person’s phone if you have access to any of their other devices that have been synced on iCloud. If you have access to their iPad or MacBook, you can delete the message from there and it takes effect on their phone.

Another situation where you can delete the iMessage from the other person’s device is if their device is linked to your iCloud account. Then you can delete the message directly on iCloud, and this will delete the message from their phone, as long as their iCloud sync is turned on.

Note that for any of the two scenarios to work, Messages on iCloud has to be turned on, on the device. To turn on Messages on iCloud:

On your iPhone

  • Go to the Settings app.
  • Tap your name.
  • Tap iCloud.
  • Turn on Messages.

And, before this can work, you also need to have turned on iCloud Keychain:

On your iPhone

  • Go to the Settings app.
  • Tap your name.
  • Tap iCloud.
  • Tap Keychain
  • Turn on iCloud Keychain.
  • Enter your phone passcode or your Apple ID password if prompted

Can Someone Tell If You Deleted Your Message

When you delete an iMessage or an iMessage thread from your phone, that action takes effect on your phone only. As long as the other person does not have access to your phone or any other device synced to your iCloud account, they will not know that you have deleted the message or conversation thread.

In the case of a thread, new messages between you and the recipient will appear as a continuation of the thread on the other person’s phone. It is only on your own device that it will show as a fresh start to the thread.

Deleting an iMesssage chat thread does not prevent you from receiving new messages from the recipient, either. The only way this happens is if you block the user.

In all, the only way someone can tell if you deleted your iMessage is if you tell them or if they have access to your device.

How to Delete iMessage From Both Sides

First, you have to delete the message or conversation thread from your device. If you have other devices synced to your iCloud account, the message will also be deleted on them.

To Delete an Individual iMessage On Your Device Only:

1. Open the Messages app on your iPhone

2. Scroll to the conversation with the recipient and open it

3. Press and hold the particular message you want to delete from the conversation

4. Tap on More

5. If you want to delete more than one message, you can select the rest that you want to delete. If not, just proceed to tap the trash icon at the bottom left of the screen

6. Tap to confirm Delete Message

To Delete an Entire Conversation on iMessage On Your Device Only:

1. Open the Messages app on your iPhone

2. Scroll to the conversation with the recipient

3. Without opening it, just swipe left on the conversation

4. Select Delete

5. Confirm Delete

Now that you have deleted the message from your device, here are some ways to have the message deleted for the other person.

1. Ask Them to Delete the Message As Well If They’ve Already Seen It

Well, the deed has already been done. If the person has already seen the message, all you can do is damage limitation. Now, there are different reasons why you may want to have a message deleted. The most common ones are:

1. The message contains words that you regret saying to the person

2. The message was not meant for the person

3. The message contains information that the person should not have

4. You have had second thoughts about sharing the information with the person

You can ask the person to delete the message if they have already seen it. However, the reason for wanting to have the message deleted will largely determine your approach and tone when making the request.

1. If the words in the text may be hurtful then you could apologise and ask them to delete it so that you have a clean slate to start over on

2. If the message contains information that the person should not have, for example, a secret, then you could politely let them know that some of the information is confidential and should be protected by deleting

3. If you have second thoughts about sharing the information with the person, you could tell them that the information was made up or no longer valid, and ask that they delete it.

Whatever the case, remember that you are asking someone to delete a message from their own phone. Therefore, you need to be polite, diplomatic, clever, and convincing. There is no legislation that gives you right to determine what can be done with an iMessage that you have sent.

2. Send Loads of Messages to Distract Them

If you do not think that getting the person to delete the message is an option, then you could quickly send lots of messages to distract them from the original message.

You need to be clever with this. Send them messages that would immediately pique their interest. Add photos that interest them. Ask them questions, too, so that their attention is on answering those questions instead.

If possible, give them a call and strike up a pleasant conversation.

When you use this method, ensure that the subsequent messages you send have nothing to do with the message you regret. Pretend the original message never happened. Say happy and exciting things that cannot be reconciled with the message you regret.

This is also a good foundation to make up excuses for the message you regret, should the person eventually get to see it.

3. Delete The Conversation Thread

Another way to handle the situation is to delete the conversation thread entirely from your phone. This will not delete the thread from the person’s phone but it is the right place to start if you want to remove every record of the regrettable conversation. The steps to delete a conversation thread are explained earlier in this article.

4. Tell Them To Delete The Conversation Thread As Well

When you have deleted the conversation thread from your device, you could ask the person to do the same on theirs. This is especially important if you are looking to have a fresh start with the person, or if you are trying to protect secret information.

You would need to find a way to convince the person that deleting the conversation thread is the best thing to do.

One point to bear in mind is that messages and conversations that have been deleted from the phone can be restored within 3 days after the deletion, if iCloud backup is turned on. So be sure to factor that in when making your delete request.

The person may delete the message just to satisfy you but may go ahead to restore the message later. This usually happens when the message can be used for blackmail or public disgrace.

5. Say Someone Hacked Your iMessage and Sent The Message

You see and hear it happen all the time. Even celebrities use the excuse because it works. iMessages can indeed be hacked. As a matter of fact, a hacker can delete iMessages remotely, too. But this is illegal.

When you cannot find a good way to explain or hide the message you regret, you could say that your iMessage was hacked, and that the message was sent by the hacker. Because this happens from time to time, you stand a chance of convincing the person that it was the case with you.

One trick that works is after you have given this excuse, send one or two other messages similar to the one you regret, to the same person. This would make your case more convincing.

6. Say Someone Was On Your iPhone

Friends and family do mischievous things from time to time. When you send a message that you regret, you could say that a friend or family member did it either for fun or spite…depending on what works best in your situation.

The best way to achieve this is to wait several minutes after sending the message, and then call the person up to strike up a pleasant conversation like nothing happened. If they bring up the message, then you can pretend to be unaware of the fact.

Whatever you do, be clever with it because it is an excuse that has been overused.

7. Simply Say You Didn’t Mean What You Said

Sometimes, it is best to own the mistake and have a conversation about it. When you send an iMessage that you regret, you could reach out to the person and tell them that you did not mean the words you said. One can say things in the heat of the moment or in bad judgement. Since you cannot undo the action, you can seek reconciliation and understanding if it is important to you.

Now that you know how deleting iMessages works, you can be more cautious when using the application to avoid getting yourself in such a situation. Until Apple rolls out the update that allows iMessages to be deleted from both sides, iMessaging should be done with care.

David Johnson is a freelance writer with 9 years of experience writing for Techzillo and other established tech outlets like iMore. His focus and key interests are Apple and accessibility as well as consumer technology in general. Read our Editorial Guidlines and Fact Checking process.


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