How to recover deleted text messages from your phone and computer

Texting took the world by storm in the early 90s and hasn’t stopped since. Digital communication increased particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Simple Texting found Americans’ daily screen time increased by about 50% between 2019 and 2021.  More than 60% of consumers said their time spent texting every day increased because of the pandemic

With more texting comes more problems. If you’re in a situation where you’re scrambling to find an old text you accidentally deleted, take a deep breath. There are solutions to recover those text messages. Here’s what to do.

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How to recover deleted text messages on an iPhone

You can recover deleted iPhone messages in a few different ways. The easiest way is to use a MacBook if you have one and find the messages in your computer’s folders. 

Restoring through MacBook files

Find the “Messages” folder in your computer’s “Library” function on the Finder app. If you’re unable to find the Library, simply open Finder and hit “Go” on the top preferences bar at the top of your screen. Click “Go to Folder” and paste in “~/Library/Messages” which will bring you to your archived messages. Click “Archive” and search through the appropriate dates to find the text you’re looking for. 

Restoring from an iCloud backup

You can also restore from an iCloud backup. According to Apple community discussions, you can recover messages by erasing your iPhone and restoring it from an iCloud backup. To see if you have an iCloud back up ready to use, go to Settings, click on your name at the top, then go to “iCloud,” “Manage Storage” and “Backups.”  From there, you can factory reset your iPhone before restoring it using that iCloud backup. Make sure to back up your phone on iCloud before you do this just in case.

Restoring from iTunes backup

If iCloud didn’t work, or you don’t have any backups saved, try using iTunes on your Mac. But be forewarned, newly updated Macs may not have iTunes, as Apple retired the application with the macOS Catalina update.