How to recover lost or deleted text messages on iPhone & iPad

It’s surprisingly easy to accidentally delete text messages on an iPhone or iPad. We’ve also seen users who’ve deleted them to make space, only to later realise they want them back, or lose messages as a result of a failed iOS update. Maybe your Apple device was lost, stolen or broken and you can’t access any data.

Whatever the reason for your missing text messages, we can help you recover them — with or without a backup, and with or without the device.

If you have suffered from wider data loss, we can help you recover other types of iPhone and iPad files, including contacts and calls.

Method 1: Restore text messages from iCloud

If your text messages were backed up to iCloud before they were deleted, you may be able to restore them to your iPhone or iPad by following the steps below:

  1. Log in to your iCloud account.
  2. Click on the Text Messages icon. If it does not appear, you will need to try another text message recovery method.
  3. Open the Settings app in your iPhone or iPad and go to iCloud.
  4. Deselect the Messages app.
  5. When the warning pops up, select ‘Keep on My iPhone/iPad’.
  6. Now re-select the Messages app.
  7. Now select ‘Merge’ and wait for the messages to reappear in your Messages app.

If your text messages are stored in an iCloud backup but this method didn’t work, don’t worry: you can restore the full iCloud backup or extract the text message files instead.

Method 2: Restore an iTunes or iCloud backup

If your lost or deleted text messages are saved in an iTunes or iCloud backup, you can restore this file in order to get them back:

However, you will have to reset your iPhone or iPad to factory settings first, meaning that you will lose any files created since the backup was taken. This is especially problematic if you want to recover text messages that were lost days, weeks or even months ago.

To avoid this issue, you can use Enigma Recovery to extract text messages from the backup, instead. Read the next section to find out more.

Method 3: Recover from an iTunes or iCloud backup

Enigma Recovery allows you to recover text messages from an iTunes or iCloud backup file without making any changes to your device — eliminating the need to restore the full backup.

You can then view and save the recovered text messages on your computer, and access them on your iOS device using our Restore app. Here’s how it works:

  1. Download Enigma Recovery

Download and install Enigma Recovery for free on your Mac or Windows computer.

Download and open Enigma Recovery
  1. Choose your recovery method

Choose whether to recover from iTunes or iCloud, then select the backup file you’d like to scan. You’ll be able to log in to iCloud securely using two-factor authentication.

Select itunes or icloud to recover
  1. Scan for messages

To recover texts, choose ‘Messages’ from the data types menu and start the scan. This will also recover iMessages and photo/video attachments from the Messages app.

Scan for text message data
  1. View recovered messages

Preview recovered data in the ‘Messages’ tab. To view all data and continue to the next steps, you’ll need to upgrade to the full version of Enigma Recovery.

View recovered message data
  1. Export your text messages

To back up, transfer or print your data, use the ‘Export & Restore’ menu to export text messages to your computer in a CSV, XML, PDF or XLSX file. Photo attachments can be exported in HEIC or JPEG format, while video attachments can be saved as MOV or MP4 files.

Export your text messages
  1. Transfer to the Restore app

One way to view recovered text messages on your iPhone or iPad is via our Restore app. Simply download the app for free from the App Store, connect your device to the computer, then go to ‘Export & Restore’ > ‘Restore to device’ on Enigma Recovery. You can then view your text messages within the Restore app.

Save and restore text messages to your device

Method 4: Recover text messages without a backup

It is possible to recover deleted text messages without a backup. When you delete a text message from your iPhone or iPad, it’s not permanently deleted: it will instead be saved in the device’s back-end database until it is overwritten. It is possible to extract a file like this using specialist software like Enigma Recovery.

However, you must act fast. The quicker that you scan your iOS device with recovery software after deleting text messages, the greater the chance that you will be able to retrieve them.

  1. Download and install Enigma Recovery on your Mac or Windows computer and wait for the software to open.
  2. Select ‘Recover from my iOS device’ and connect your iPhone/iPad to your computer with a USB cable.
  3. Tick ‘Messages’ to recover text messages, iMessages and photo/video attachments from the Messages app. Click ‘Start Scan’.
  4. Once the scan is complete, view recovered data in the ‘Messages’ tab. You will need to upgrade to view all recovered data.
  5. After upgrading, you can export recovered text messages to your computer in a CSV, XML, PDF or XLSX file. Photo attachments can be exported in HEIC or JPEG format, while video attachments can be saved as MOV or MP4 files.
  6. The best way to view recovered text messages on your iPhone or iPad is on our Restore app. Use the ‘Export & Restore’ menu to transfer Enigma Recovery files to the Restore app on a connected device.

What’s next?

Once you have successfully recovered your lost or deleted text messages, back up your device and get into the habit of backing up regularly. If you downloaded Enigma Recovery, remember that it can be used to back up existing iOS files as well as for data recovery.

If you need help recovering text messages, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly support team.

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