How to delete messages and conversations on your iPhone, and set them to auto-delete

  • Unless you take action, your iPhone will keep a permanent copy of all of your messages forever.
  • You can delete an entire conversation by swiping left on it in your iPhone’sMessages app.
  • To delete individual messages, tap and hold on the message until you see the pop-up menu, then tap it to get to the trash can.
  • You can configure your iPhone to automatically delete messages after a month or a year in the Settings app.
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You’re not going to save a lot of space on an iPhone by deleting messages – even a lot of plain text messages take up an inconsequential amount of space – but you might want to delete messages for privacy reasons or just because it keeps your Messages app better organised. (And texts with images actually can take up a fair bit of room.)

Whatever the reason, you can delete entire conversations or just specific messages. And you can even configure your phone to delete messages automatically after a certain period of time.

When we say messages, note that we mean all the messages in the Messages app – which includes both iMessages, exchanged among iPhones, and ordinary SMS text messages, which are exchanged with non-iPhone devices. You can always tell which are which: your iMessages appear in blue text bubbles, while your SMS texts appear in green bubbles.

How to delete a conversation on an iPhone

It’s easy to eliminate an entire conversation with just a swipe.

1. Open the Messages app.

2. Scroll through your messages until you find the conversation that you want to remove.

3. Swipe to the left until you see “Delete.”

Message 1Dave Johnson/Business InsiderSwipe left to delete an entire conversation in the Messages app.

4. Tap “Delete” and then tap “Delete” again in the confirmation window that appears at the bottom of the screen.

How to delete one or more messages in a conversation

If you don’t want to eliminate the entire conversation, you can delete messages singly or in a bunch.

1. Open the Messages app.

2. Scroll through your messages until you find the conversation you want to delete messages from, and tap on it.

3. Find the message you want to delete, and then tap and hold it for about three seconds.

Message 2Dave Johnson/Business InsiderTap and hold on an individual message to get additional options.

4. Tap “Moreā€¦” in the pop-up window and then do one of the following:

  • If this is the only message you want to delete, tap the trash icon at the bottom left of the screen, and then tap “Delete Message” in the confirmation window.
  • If you want to delete more than one message, check all the messages you want to remove by tapping the empty bubbles to the left of the message, then tap the trash icon, and then tap “Delete Messages” in the confirmation window.
Message 3Dave Johnson/Business InsiderYou can permanently remove any number of messages from a conversation.
  • You can remove all the messages at once by tapping “Delete All” and then tapping the “Delete Conversation” confirmation. This is the same as swiping left on an entire conversation as explained above.

How to automatically delete old messages

If you don’t feel the need to hold onto messages forever, you can configure your iPhone to do the deleting on your behalf.

1. Open the Settings app and tap “Messages.”

2. Tap “Keep Messages.”

3. By default, the iPhone keeps all messages forever (or until you manually delete them). If you prefer, tap “30 Days” or ‘1 Year.” If you do, the iPhone will automatically discard your messages after the selected time period.

Message 4Dave Johnson/Business InsiderIf you don’t want to keep your messages forever, Settings can automatically remove them after a month or a year.

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