For many iPhone users, the Messages app is one of the most used functions on their device. However, it is surprisingly easy to accidentally delete or lose a message or even worse, a whole thread of text messages. Some of our users have deleted texts thinking they would not need them, before realising they do.
If you are using a more recent iOS version, there is a function in an iPhone’s settings, that will allow users to auto-delete old texts and attachments from over a year ago, to help save space on the device. Whilst useful, this can lead to important conversations being removed. If any of these situations sound familiar to you, then you may be wondering if it is possible for you to get back your deleted SMS Text Messages.
Fortunately, you can recover deleted text messages, even if they have been deleted from your iPhone and you do not have a backup file. If you have an iTunes or iCloud backup file available, you can also try one of our alternative methods below to recover lost or deleted text messages.
With the tips and tutorials below, you can retrieve deleted text messages from a range of phones, including iPhone 11/X/XR/XS/8 as well as iPhone 7/6/SE/5/4, as long as you are using iOS 6 – 13. The method that works best for you will depend on whether you have an iTunes or iCloud backup, and whether you are worried about further potential data loss.
- Method 1: Retrieve Deleted Text Messages from iPhone without a backup
- Method 2: Retrieve Deleted Text Messages from an iTunes Backup
- Method 3: Recover Deleted Text Messages from an iCloud Backup
- Method 4: Restore Deleted Text Messages from iTunes
- Method 5: Recover Deleted Texts from iCloud without overwriting your iPhone
- Method 6: Restore Deleted Text Messages from iCloud
Retrieve Deleted Text Messages from iPhone without a backup
Our first method is best for users who are unsure how to retrieve deleted text messages without an iTunes or iCloud backup file. You may be thinking that without a backup file, your data cannot be found, however, you can find and recover your deleted SMS Text Messages directly from your iPhone.
When you delete a message (or other data) from your iPhone, it is not immediately permanently deleted. Instead, it will be saved in the back-end of the phone and marked as available space to be overwritten with new data as you continue to use your device. For this reason, we recommend that you try and recover your deleted text messages as soon as possible after they are lost or deleted. The sooner you scan your phone with recovery software after deleting iPhone messages, the greater the chance is that you will be able to retrieve those messages. Follow our process below to find out how:
Step 1 – Download Enigma Recovery
Grab your laptop or computer and download Enigma Recovery iPhone data tool. Once the software is installed, open it on your desktop. The software can be used on Mac or Windows computers.
Step 2 – Connect your iPhone to your computer
Connect your iPhone to the laptop or computer using a USB cable. If you haven’t connected your device before, you will need to authorise the connection by tapping ‘Trust’ on your phone.
Step 3 – Scan iPhone for Messages
Now select the types of data you would like to scan the phone for. Since we are trying to recover deleted texts, the scan time will be quicker if you select ‘Messages’ alone. Now click ‘Start scan’. The software will scan for all deleted and existing messages from your iPhone.
Step 4 – View recovered Text Messages
When the scan has finished you will be able to view portions of your deleted and existing messages in the free trial version. Unlock the full version of the software to view all your messages.
Step 5 – Save Text Messages
Once the software has recovered your deleted text messages, click ‘Export & Restore’. You can now select to save your recovered messages to your computer – supported formats include Excel, PDF, CSV or XML. Once stored on your computer, you can either keep the messages as an additional backup or print them.
Step 6 – Restore Text Messages
In addition to exporting your messages, you can also restore them to your iPhone with our free Restore iOS app. Download the Restore app on your device directly from the App Store, and then click ‘Export & Restore’ in the desktop software. Click ‘Restore’, select the data you want to restore and then keep your phone connected whilst the software transfers your deleted texts to the app, where you can view them on your device.
Enigma Recovery® Recover deleted iPhone data
Recover deleted iPhone text messages using your PC/Mac
Retrieve deleted text messages from an iTunes backup
If your device has been lost, stolen or damaged, but you have an iTunes (or Finder) backup available, then our second method may be best for you. You can also follow these steps if you do not want to carry out a full device restore from a backup. To recover deleted texts using this method, your backup file will need to have been created before you deleted the text messages that you want to recover from your device. Every time you sync your phone to iTunes, a backup of the iPhone at the time of the sync is created on your computer or laptop.
Using Enigma Recovery software as a backup extractor, you can scan your backup file for these deleted messages and select specific texts or conversation threads, to either export to your computer or restore to our free iOS app.
Step 1 – Install Enigma Recovery software
Install Enigma Recovery software on your Mac or Windows computer.
Step 2 – Find your iTunes backup file
In the software dashboard, select ‘Recover from my iTunes’ and browse the list of the backups found in the default location on your computer. If you have saved a backup file in a different location, click ‘Browse’ to manually find the file location.
Step 3 – Select ‘Messages’ and Start Scan
The software will display a selection of data types for you to select for inclusion in the scan. To save time, select ‘Messages’ only, and click ‘Start Scan’. The software will now scan your iTunes backup file for deleted and existing SMS Text Messages.
Step 4 – View your Recovered Messages
Once the scan is complete, you will be able to see your recovered text messages. You can scroll through the list of contacts on the left-hand side of the screen or use the search functionality to find the specific messages that you are looking for.
Step 5 – Export or Restore Text Messages
Now that you have recovered your deleted messages, you have 2 options. You can either export your recovered messages to your Mac or PC in a variety of formats or restore the recovered messages to our free Restore app on your iPhone.
Recover Deleted Text Messages from an iCloud Backup
An alternative to recovering from iTunes is to use Enigma Recovery software to scan and extract deleted text messages directly from an iCloud backup file, Apple’s alternative backup solution. This method is best if you do not have an iTunes backup file, or your device has been lost, stolen or suffered technical issues and no longer works.
SMS Text Messages are usually automatically included in an iCloud backup, which usually occurs when your iPhone is connected to a power source and Wi-Fi. If you have this function turned on, and have not manually turned off Messages for iCloud backups then you can use Enigma Recovery to scan your backup.
Step 1: Download & Install Enigma Recovery
Firstly, you will need to download Enigma Recovery software to your computer. Once installed, open the software to the first screen.
Step 2: Select your recovery method
Select ‘Recover from iCloud’ when presented with the options for recovery.
Step 3 – Securely sign in to iCloud
You will need to sign in to your iCloud account to browse your backup files. Rest assured that this process is completely secure, and our software even works with 2-factor authentication if you have this enabled.
Step 4 – Select Messages and scan for data
You will be shown a list of data types – choose to recover ‘Messages’ – this means that the software will scan your iCloud backup file for any deleted or existing text messages.
Step 5 – Complete scan & view data
When the scan is complete, the deleted and existing text messages that have been found in the software will be displayed to you.
Step 6: Export recovered text messages
As the final step, you can click ‘Export & Restore’ to save your recovered SMS Text Messages directly from the software to your PC or Mac.
Restore Deleted Text Messages from iTunes
Similarly, to our second method, this next process also utilises an iTunes Backup file. If you have created a backup via iTunes (or Finder if you’re using Mac OS Catalina), before the messages you wish to recover were deleted, you can recover them by restoring the backup file. Whilst using Enigma Recovery software would allow you to select specific messages to recover from your device, restoring directly from iTunes will replace all of the data on your device with the data from the backup. If you haven’t synced your phone for a while, then you may lose a significant amount of data. If you are happy to continue, follow these steps:
Step 1 – Connect your Device
Using your USB cable, connect your iPhone to your computer or laptop.
Step 2 – Launch iTunes
Once your phone is connected, iTunes should open automatically. If it does not, launch the program. You may need to ‘Trust’ the computer with your device.
Step 3 – Navigate to Device screen
Click on the iPhone icon in the top left of the screen – the Device screen with all of your device information will be displayed.
Step 4 – Select ‘Restore Backup’
Under ‘Backups’ -> ‘Manually Backup and Restore’, click ‘Restore Backup’. If you are using Catalina, this option is in the ‘General’ tab. You should see a list of backups available; choose the most recent or relevant backup to restore your iPhone, depending on which file includes the text messages that you need to recover.
Step 5 – Restore Backup
Keep your device connected whilst iTunes restores your device to the selected backup. All of the iPhone data from your previous backup will be transferred to your iPhone, replacing the current data.
Enigma Recovery® Recover deleted iPhone data
Recover deleted iPhone text messages using your PC/Mac
Recover Deleted Texts from iCloud without overwriting your iPhone
This tutorial for recovering deleted text messages involves restoring from iCloud Messages. If this feature is available with your provider or territory, then you may be able to restore your text messages from iCloud without overwriting any other phone data.
Start by logging into your iCloud account on iCloud.com.
Click on the Text Messages icon. If it does not appear, there is a chance that your Messages have not been backed up with this feature. In this instance please use one of our other tutorials.
Open the Settings app in your phone tap [your name] > iCloud.
Deselect Messages if it is not already turned off.
When the warning pops up, select ‘Keep on My iPhone’.
Now enable Messages again.
Now tap merge and wait for the messages to re-appear in your Messages app.
Restore Deleted Text Messages from iCloud
Our final tutorial will guide you through carrying out a full device restore if you have an iCloud backup file created before you deleted the text messages. This method will replace all current data created since your last backup. If you are happy to overwrite all the data on your device created since your last backup, please proceed with this tutorial to restore your lost messages.
Before you begin, check that your device is operating the latest iOS version. To do this, go to Settings on your iPhone, and then tap ‘General’ > ‘Software Update’. If there is a newer version of iOS available, follow the onscreen instructions to install it. Once you have verified your iOS version is the latest, follow the next steps.
Step 1 – Check for an existing iCloud backup
First, we need to check that you have a recent backup, which includes your Text Messages, to restore from. On your iPhone, go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud > Manage Storage > Backups. Select a device listed under Backups, to view the date and size of the latest backup available. Ensure that you have a full device backup available from after you sent/received the messages you want to recover, but before they were deleted.
Step 2 – Erase Device
Tap on Settings > General > Reset, and then tap ‘Erase All Content and Settings’. Confirm you want to proceed when prompted and then wait whilst your device is erased.
Step 3 – Sign in to iCloud
The Apps & Data Screen will load when your phone restarts. When prompted, tap ‘Restore from iCloud Backup’, and sign in to iCloud using your Apple ID.
Step 4 – Choose Backup
Once logged in, you will see a list of available backups in your account. Choose the backup you need to restore from.
Step 5 – Restore iCloud Backup
Wait whilst the iCloud backup is restored to your device. Once this is complete, you can return to using your phone as normal. Tap on the Messages icon and find the Text Messages that you needed to recover – they should now be showing on your device again.
How far back can Enigma Recovery find deleted messages?
Our software algorithms have been designed to piece together all of the deleted text messages on iPhones and iTunes/iCloud backup files. This means that we can recover data from as far back as months or years ago! However, the amount that can be recovered will be dependent on how your phone has been used and whether or not new data has been added since you deleted messages. For this reason, we recommend that you start the recovery process as soon as possible after deleting or losing data.
Can I print my iPhone text messages?
With Enigma Recovery, printing text messages in hard copy format is a simple and easy process. After you have recovered your data using the software, you can export it to your PC or Mac (see the tutorials above), in a range of formats including Excel or PDF. Once you have exported your data, open the file from your desktop and click to print it from the main menu.
What other types of data can I recover?
Enigma Recovery can retrieve a range of popular iPhone data types, including contacts, calls, iMessages, notes and much more. For more detailed information on all of the types of data we can recover, please click here.