How to Recover Deleted Text Messages on iPhone: Top 5 Free Solutions

Written by
Approved by
552

recover deleted text messages from an iPhone

If you’re like most iPhone users, the Messages app is one of the most-used apps on your device. The text messages it contains likely include previous and current appointments, snippets of information you may need in the future, and heart-warming conversations with friends and family members.

Accidentally deleting even a couple of text messages can feel like a punch to the gut, there’s no reason to despair just yet. Let’s look at five possible ways to recover deleted text messages on your iPhone.

Solution #1: Use Your iCloud Backup to Recover Deleted Text Messages


Estimated success rate: 80%


recover deleted text messages on iphone from icloud backupIf you use iCloud to back up your iPhone, you should be able to recover all deleted text messages by following the instructions below. We just need to warn you that this method requires you to restore your iPhone to its factory settings.

Once you do that, you’ll be able to use an older iCloud backup to recover all your settings, apps, and data. If that sounds like too much of a hassle to you, we recommend you check out the other solutions described in this article.  

Follow these steps to recover deleted text messages from an iCloud backup:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Go to General and choose the Reset option.
  3. Tap Erase All Content and Settings and confirm your choice by clicking the Erase Now button.recover deleted text messages on iphone from icloud
  4. Follow your phone’s instructions until you see the Apps & Data page.
  5. Choose Restore from iCloud Backup.
    recover deleted text messages on iphone
  6. Sign in to iCloud.
  7. Choose the most recent backup that contains the deleted text messages from the list of available iCloud backups.
  8. Wait for the recovery process to finish.

When the recovery is over, you will most likely have to sign in again to all your accounts.

Solution #2: Selectively Retrieve Deleted Text Messages from a Backup


Estimated success rate: 40%


how to retrieve deleted text messages on iphoneIn some territories, text messages are selectively backed up to iCloud, just like photos and calendar appointments. iPhone users in the supported territories can read text messages from any device by signing in to icloud.com.

If you’re not sure whether you can use this recovery method, go to Settings > your name > iCloud > and see if Messages is turned on.

If it is, follow these steps to selectively retrieve deleted text messages from a backup:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap your name and select iCloud.
  3. Turn off Text Messages and select Keep on My iPhone.how to retrieve deleted text messages on iphone selectively
  4. Turn Text Messages back on and select the Merge option.
  5. Wait for the deleted text messages to download to your iPhone.

There are two reasons why you need to turn off Text Messages in step 3. First, turning them off and then on again forces your iPhone to download the most recent iCloud backup. Second, you want to prevent your iPhone from telling iCloud to get rid of the deleted messages you’re trying to recover. Once that happens, you won’t be able to use this method anymore.

Solution #3: Retrieve Deleted Text Messages from an iTunes (or Finder) Backup


Estimated success rate: 90%


how to retrieve deleted text messages on iphone from itunesHopefully, you’ve been regularly backing up your iPhone to your computer. If that’s the case, you can now retrieve all deleted text messages using either iTunes or Finder, depending on your version of macOS.

Compared with iCloud backups, your local backups most likely will be slightly older, but that shouldn’t matter if you want to recover text messages that have been on your iPhone for some time.

To retrieve deleted text messages from an iTunes backup (macOS Mojave and older):

  1. Connect your iPhone to your Mac.
  2. Launch iTunes and go to the Summary page.
  3. Click the Restore Backup button.how to retrieve deleted text messages on iphone from itunes backup
  4. Pick the most relevant backup.
  5. Enter your password if asked and click Restore.

To retrieve deleted text messages from a Finder backup (macOS Catalina and newer):

  1. Connect your iPhone to your Mac.
  2. Launch Finder and select your iPhone under Locations.
  3. Click the Restore Backup button in the General tab.how to retrieve deleted text messages on iphone with finder
  4. Pick the most relevant backup.
  5. Enter your password if asked and click Restore.how to retrieve deleted text messages using finder backup

Solution #4: Contact Your Carrier and Ask for Help


Estimated success rate: 40%


recover deleted texts on iphoneSome (but certainly not most) carriers allow their customers to recover deleted texts from online account management portals. In the United States, one such carrier is AT&T, whose Messages Backup & Sync feature keeps text and picture messages backed up in the cloud for up to 90 days.

Messages stored in the AT&T cloud can be downloaded to any smartphone that supports the feature. Unfortunately, AT&T doesn’t include the iPhone in its list of supported devices.

To find out if your carrier can help you recover deleted text messages:

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
  2. Go to General and tap About at the top of the list.recover deleted texts on iphone easily
  3. See your carrier next to Network.
  4. Visit your carrier’s website and look for contact information.
  5. Call your carrier and ask if it’s possible for them to recover your deleted text messages.

Solution #5: Use Disk Drill to Recover Deleted Text Messages on iPhone


Estimated success rate: 90%


recover deleted text messages on iphone with disk drillIf you don’t have a backup of your text messages, there’s a good chance that you’ll still be able to get them back, but only if you don’t hesitate too much. A data recovery application like Disk Drill for Mac can find deleted and lost text messages on your iPhone and recover them for you with a few clicks.

Note: You won’t be able to recover deleted text messages on iPhone with Disk Drill for Mac if you wait too long, and they become overwritten with other data.

Follow these steps to retrieve deleted texts with Disk Drill:

  1. Download and install Disk Drill.how to retrieve deleted text messages on iphone with disk drill
  2. Connect your iPhone to your Mac.
  3. Launch Disk Drill and initialize a free scan by clicking the Recover button next to your iPhone.recover deleted texts on iphone with disk drill
  4. Go through and preview the deleted and existing text messages.
  5. Select the ones you want to undelete.
  6. Click the Recover button and get your texts back.recover deleted texts on iphone for free
free data recovery software Disk Drill for Windows & macOS Free Download

Maximize Your Chances of Successful Recovery with These Tips

You might have noticed that none of the solutions described in this article have an estimated success rate of 100%. Why? Because there are no guaranteed results when it comes to the recovery of any data, including text messages. However, there are some things that you can do to maximize your chances of successful recovery.

Stop Using Your iPhone Immediately

When you accidentally delete a text message or file, your iPhone doesn’t immediately get rid of it. Instead, it marks the storage space occupied by it as empty, allowing new data to be recorded to the same storage space. To maximize your chances of successful recovery, you should stop using your iPhone immediately. If possible, turn it off, and don’t turn it on again until you’re ready to start the recovery.  

Backup Your Data

In 2020, manual backups are still just as important as ever. However, they’re useful only if you maintain a regular backup schedule and store your backups someplace safe, such as an external hard drive. To decrease the chance of losing important data, combine manual backups with automatic cloud backups.

Start with the Solution That’s Most Likely to Work

As you’ve probably noticed, not all solutions described in this article have the same estimated success rate. In fact, some are more likely to fail than succeed. To save time and maximize your chances of successful recovery, start with the solution that has the highest chance of success and move on to other solutions only if it fails.

Did You Know?

According to worldwide iPhone reliability statistics, the iPhone 6 is, by far, the least reliable iPhone ever produced, followed by iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. Fortunately, Apple learned their lesson because the reliability of all subsequent models is much better. This goes to show that even a high-end smartphone manufacturer like Apple can release a device that may cause its users to lose all text messages and other data.  

FAQ

David Morelo is a professional content writer in the technology niche, covering everything from consumer products to emerging technologies and their cross-industry application.
Approved by
This article has been approved by Brett Johnson, Data Recovery Engineer at ACE Data Recovery. Brett has a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Systems and Network, 12 years of experience.