How to Recover Deleted Text Messages on iPhone

Accidentally deleted or lost text messages and need to get them back? Find out how to recover deleted SMS Text Messages from your iPhone

Compatibility: iOS 13 – 6 | iPhone SE / 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max / XS, XS Max / XR / X / 8, 8 Plus / iPhone 7, 7 Plus / 6s, 6s Plus / 6, 6 Plus / 5C, 5s / 5 / 4s / 4 / 3GS / 3, iPad, iPod Touch

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.

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.

Download Enigma Recovery & Recover Deleted Text Messages

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.

Connect and trust your phone with computer to get back deleted messages

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.

Select SMS & Scan To Recover Deleted Texts

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.

See Recovered iPhone Messages & Text

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.

Save your Text Messages to your computer

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.

Restore Text Messages Back to your iPhone Using The Restore App

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.

Download and open Enigma Recovery & Recover Deleted Texts

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.

Retrieve Deleted Messages by finding your itunes Backup

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.

Select sms & Start Recovering Deleted Text Messages on iphone

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.

View Recovered iphone Messages & Text

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.

Export or Restore your iPhone Text Messages

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.

Download and Install Enigma iPhone Text Recovery Software

Step 2: Select your recovery method

Select ‘Recover from iCloud’ when presented with the options for recovery.

Select Recover from iCloud to Restore Deleted Messages

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.

Securely sign into icloud to start text message recovery

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.

select messages and scan for data to undelete messages on iPhone

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.

view completed scan data to recover your deleted messages

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.

export recovered iPhone text messages

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.

  • Step 1

    Start by logging into your iCloud account on iCloud.com.

  • Step 2

    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.

  • Step 3

    Open the Settings app in your phone tap [your name] > iCloud.

  • Step 4

    Deselect Messages if it is not already turned off.

  • Step 5

    When the warning pops up, select ‘Keep on My iPhone’.

  • Step 6

    Now enable Messages again.

  • Step 7

    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.

FAQs

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.

If you have read through the tutorials but are still struggling to recover your deleted text messages, please contact our Support Team or visit our Help section, for additional assistance.

About

Shaazia has been part of the Enigma Marketing Team since 2013 when we sold our first software license. She writes blogs and 'How to' articles for the website, and is passionate about helping users recover and manage their data.

Comments

  • Adam thompson at 11:38 am

    I am trying to view old text messages from approximately 2 years ago and maybe further back. I have i cloud backups from this time. Do you think your software is capable of helping me with this

    • Hi Adam,

      Thanks for getting in touch. Our software is capable of recovering deleted data, including Text Messages from several years ago, depending on how the phone has been used etc. We offer a free trial of our software and would advise that you download the free trial first so you can get a preview of deleted data the software has found on both your device and/or an iCloud backup file. Hope this helps, let us know if you need any more assistance, please!

      Thanks,
      Shaazia

    • Hello Renz,

      Thanks for your message! With Enigma Recovery software you can recover deleted messages from your iPhone, iTunes or iCloud backup files. We recommend that you download our free trial software and either connect your iPhone or select a backup file for recovery – the software will scan and display a limited selection of deleted messages in the free trial.

      Hope this helps! If you need more assistance, our Support Team is available via the Chat icon at the bottom of the screen, or via email and will be glad to assist you!

      Thanks,
      Shaazia

  • Hopeful at 4:04 pm

    I have an iphone 6 that on July 2018 i woke up one morning and the screen was blank I tried to recover but it wouldn’t let me I sent it to be fixed and they were able to get the phone back on an updated but there were text messages that had been deleted that I desperatley want to retrieve … I bought another phone and transferred Sim card to it the old phone hasn’t been used to send messages since July do you think the deleted messages could still be in the back-end of the phone

    • Hello,

      Thanks for your message.

      Just for clarity, messages are not stored on iPhone SIM cards. The best options for recovery would be to use iCloud or an older iTunes backup. It’s not immediately clear from your message how in-depth the repair work to your device was – the extent of this could have an impact on your ability to recover messages. I would advise downloading our free trial of the Enigma Recovery software and connecting your phone to your computer to scan it. The trial software will show you a selection of deleted data, so you can check if the messages you need are available before upgrading to the full version.

      Hope this helps!

      Thanks,
      Shaazia

  • Alan Sage at 10:30 pm

    I downloaded your appication and followed the directions to restore deleted text messages. I was specifically looking for a message that was just a few days old, so presumably not overwritten, but it is not there. Any other suggestions? Thank you in advance.

    • shaazia at 2:23 pm

      Hi Alan,

      Thanks for your message! I will get our Support Team to contact you to provide assistance in recovering your text messages.

      Thanks,
      Shaazia

  • Sergio at 12:20 am

    I need to recover a message that I deleted yesterday but I had not done a back up. I just did a backup this morning at 3am. Can I still recover that ?

    • Shaazia at 5:47 pm

      Hello Sergio,

      Thanks for your message! Yes, our software can recover deleted text messages without a backup. The success rate of recovery is dependant upon a few different factors including how the phone has been used since deletion. I would recommend that you download our free trial software and connect your device to your computer. The software will scan your device and display a selection of deleted data from your device. You can also use it to scan your backup file.

      Hope that helps! Please let us know if you need any more assistance to recover your messages.

      Thanks,
      Shaazia

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