How to Retrieve Deleted Text Messages on iPhone or Android

March 28, 2023 • Zachary Amos


Accidental deletion is something everyone has to deal with at some point. Whether you pressed the wrong button or cleared out old messages without thinking about it, it’s easy to delete a text you’d like to keep. When that happens, you’ll need to know how to retrieve deleted text messages, and thankfully, you have several options.

How to Retrieve Deleted Text Messages on iPhone

The steps for how to retrieve deleted text messages look different depending on what kind of phone you use. Here are some ways to get those texts back if you have an iPhone.

Find Recently Deleted Texts in Messages

Your iPhone will store your recently deleted messages for up to 40 days if you have iOS 16 or later. To find them, open the Messages app, then tap the Edit button in the top-left corner. Tap “Show Recently Deleted,” and you’ll see all the threads you’ve deleted in the past month or so.

From there, find the conversation you want to restore, tap the circle next to it, then tap “Recover” in the bottom-right corner. You can then find the thread in the main Messages screen.

Restore Messages from iCloud

You may also be able to retrieve deleted text messages from an iCloud backup. You can sign in to your iCloud from virtually any device to see if you’ve backed up your messages. If you have, you can restore them from your settings.

Open Settings on your iPhone, go to “General,” then scroll down to “Transfer or Reset iPhone.” Tap that, then tap “Erase All Content and Settings,” which will likely prompt you to put in your iCloud password. Your phone will then reset to its factory conditions.

Once your phone has reset, you’ll go through some setup options. When you get to the “Apps & Data” screen, tap “Restore from iCloud Backup,” and choose the last backup before you deleted the text. You may lose some later data in this process, but you’ll get the old texts back.

Use a Third-Party App

If you don’t want to reset your phone, you could use a third-party data recovery app. Some popular options include FoneLab, Dr. Fone and PhoneRescue. These apps will sort through hidden deleted files on your phone, letting you pull them up on your computer.

Look through reviews to find a reliable app that fits your needs and budget, then follow its in-app instructions to recover your data.

How to Retrieve Deleted Text Messages on Android

Apple may dominate the U.S. mobile market, but Android is the most popular mobile operating system globally. Here’s how to retrieve deleted text messages if you have an Android phone.

Check the Recycle Bin (Samsung Only)

Samsung phones, like iPhones, hold on to deleted messages for around a month. You can recover these much like you would on iOS 16.

Open your messages, then tap the three dots in the upper-right corner. Tap “Recycle bin,” where you’ll see a list of your recently deleted threads. Tap and hold the message you want to recover, then tap “Restore” at the bottom of your screen. You can then find the text in your regular inbox.

Use a Third-Party App

If you can’t find your deleted text messages in the recycle bin or don’t have a Samsung, you can try using a third-party app. Many of the same data recovery apps that work for iPhones, like Dr. Fone, also have Android versions you can use. Follow the same steps to get your data back.

There are also plenty of free texting apps for Android you can use in the future instead of regular texting. These may hold on to deleted data longer, making it easier to recover old texts.

Reset Your Phone

If none of the above options work, you can restore your deleted texts from a Google Drive backup. Keep in mind that this can delete other data in the process, so it should be a last resort.

Open Google Drive, tap the three lines at the top-left corner, then tap “Backups.” Tap the section for your device, find the section labeled “SMS,” and check the date. If it’s before you deleted the text, you can restore that backup to get it back.

The restoration process will vary depending on what kind of phone you have, so follow the on-screen instructions to learn what to do. You may want to copy your data to an SD card before restoring so you don’t lose anything important.

Deleted Doesn’t Mean Gone Forever

You may want to enable automatic backups on Google Drive or iCloud to make this easier in the future. However, now that you know how to retrieve deleted text messages, accidental deletion won’t be as big of a problem.