Did you just accidentally delete a text message? Or maybe you deleted an entire conversation? Oops. Don’t panic just yet. If you regularly back up your phone, you might be able to recover a deleted text message. If your phone isn’t routinely backed up, however, you may need to bring in recovery software or reach out to your service provider for help.
In this post, we’ll go over how to recover deleted text messages, whether you’re using an iPhone or an Android phone.
Before trying to recover deleted text messages
Are you trying to recover a photo from a deleted text or check an appointment confirmation? Check your photo app or your calendar. Sometimes, photos and appointments are automatically synced to those apps. And if the option is available, it doesn’t hurt to first reach out to the other person in the text conversation. They can provide a screenshot or a copy of what you’re looking for.
How to recover deleted texts on Android
If you just deleted the texts, you might able to retrieve them. Although not guaranteed, the faster you try to recover deleted text messages, the better chance you’ll have at getting them back.
Step 1. Turn your phone on Airplane mode. Deleting a text message on an Android phone doesn’t remove it from your phone immediately. Your phone will mark the data as inactive until new data is created, which will then eventually overwrite the deleted text. Switching to Airplane mode will prevent you from creating any new data that could overwrite the text you just deleted.
Step 2. Go to Google Drive on your desktop to see when your SMS was last backed up. If you went through the setup process when you first got your phone, it’s likely you’re using Google Drive to back up your data. You can verify when your texts were last backed up by opening Google Drive.
- Open Google Drive
- Go to the Menu
- Choose Settings
- Choose Google Backup
- If your device has been backed up, you should see the name of your device listed.
- Select the name of your device. You should see SMS Text Messages with a timestamp indicating when the last backup took place. You’ll want the backup to be from before you deleted the text.
You can also just see when your phone was last backed up in general (and if a backup is available) by going to System > Backup.
Step 3. Factory reset your phone. Unfortunately, you can’t simply restore your text messages from Google Drive, so you’ll have to perform a factory reset where you can then restore the data from your last backup on your Google Drive account. The navigation will look different for various Android phones, but generally, you can use the following steps.
- Go to your phone’s Settings
- Find the Reset option
- Choose Factory reset
Once the phone has been reset, follow the prompted steps to log in to your Google Drive account to restore your last backup.
How to retrieve deleted text messages on Android using recovery software
Don’t want to reset your phone to recover deleted text messages? Try recovery software on your computer. Consider this step only if you really, truly need to retrieve a deleted text. Recovery software can be expensive and there’s no guarantee that it will work.
Recovery software can also be risky if you’re not familiar with the tech behind the process. Some options may require root access to your mobile device, which means that the software would have access to everything on your phone. Do your research and make sure the software is from a reputable company before moving forward.
If you decide to go this route, don’t install the software on the same storage disk that housed your lost texts since it could override that data.
Step 1. Switch your phone on Airplane mode. This will prevent your phone from receiving any new data, which could potentially override the deleted messages.
Step 3. Enable USB Debugging. This will allow your device and desktop to communicate with each other. The instructions below will vary depending on your Android device.
- Go to Settings
- Tap on About Phone
- Find Software Information
- Tap Build Number repeatedly until you see that Developer Mode has been turned on
- Go back to Settings
- Tap on Developer Options
- Enable USB Debugging
Step 4. Run the recovery software and follow the on-screen instructions. You’ll be asked to connect your phone. Follow the on-screen instructions.
Retrieve deleted messages on Android by getting in touch with your phone carrier
This option may only be effective for extreme cases (e.g., you need the texts as evidence in court). Your carrier stores text messages for a while after they’ve been deleted, and they may be able to retrieve what you need. It’s unlikely, however, that your carrier will recover deleted text messages if the reason for your request is minor, but it doesn’t hurt to ask if you want to try.
How to recover deleted texts on iPhone without a computer
Step 1. Stop sending texts. When a text message is deleted, the space that housed the text is marked as “unallocated.” The message data will be there until a new message overwrites the space. To increase the chance that you won’t override the deleted text, hold off on texting.
Step 2. Make sure you have a backup via iCloud. Your deleted texts might be available if your iPhone regularly backs up via iCloud.
Double check that iCloud is enabled on your phone.
- Go to Settings
- Tap on your name at the top of the screen
- Tap on iCloud
- Tap on iCloud backup. You should be able to see if it’s enabled and when the last backup was made.
If that’s all good, you’ll need to restore your iPhone to the last backup.
- Go to Settings
- Tap on General
- Scroll all the way down to Reset
- Tap on Erase All Content and Settings
- Tap on Erase Now
- Once the reset is complete, choose Restore from iCloud backup when prompted.
The downside to this, of course, is that since you’re reverting to an older version of your data, any data created after your last backup will be gone. Save anything you want to keep.
How to recover deleted texts on iPhone using Finder on your Mac
You may have a backup of your deleted messages on your Mac. You can access your backups using Finder (only for Macs running on macOS Catalina. If you don’t have Catalina, use iTunes). The backup will need to be from before the text message was deleted.
Step 1. Connect your phone to your computer. Use a USB or USB-C to Lightning cable (depending on your computer). If a message prompts you to enter your passcode or Trust This Computer, follow the steps.
Step 2. Open Finder. Select your iPhone in the left column.
Step 3. Choose a backup to restore. Look through the date of each backup and pick the one from before you deleted your text. Select Restore and wait for your device to sync with your computer.
How to retrieve deleted text messages for iPhone using recovery software
Don’t want to restore your phone to retrieve deleted text messages? Consider downloading recovery software to your desktop, but do so at your own risk. Recovery software isn’t cheap, isn’t guaranteed to work, and most will require that you have an iCloud backup, but you’ll be able to retrieve only the data you’re looking for (instead of having to restore your phone). Do your homework and ensure that you’re using a trusted company before going forward. And the sooner you use the software after deleting your text, the better—the deleted message could be overwritten with new data the longer you wait.
Step 2. Connect your phone to your computer with a compatible cord. Use the Lightning to USB (or USB-C) cable that came with your iPhone.
Step 3. Follow the on-screen instructions.
Retrieve deleted messages on iPhone from your carrier
Your carrier may be able to help in an extreme situation (e.g., you need the texts as evidence in court). It’s unlikely, however, that your carrier will recover deleted text messages for you if the reason for your request is minor, but it doesn’t hurt to ask if you want to try.
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