How to Unsend an iPhone Message
By Editorial Team
Updated September 09, 2022
There are different reasons you may want to recall a text once it is sent, whether it's an embarrassing spelling mistake or that the message went to the wrong person entirely. Unfortunately, most types of text messages cannot be recalled once the message has left your device. Depending on how you send the text message it may allow you to check when the recipient has read the message, but only messages sent via certain apps have the capability of being unsent.
Can You Unsend a Text on iPhone?
You can't unsend a text in SMS format, and you can't unsend iMessage texts on versions of iOS below 16, which Macworld reports will be released in fall 2022. While it's not possible to unsend an iMessage on older versions or SMS messages at all, other messaging apps such as WhatsApp allow you to delete the message. If you delete before the recipient reads it, they will never see what it says. However, this isn't possible with most messaging platforms on the iPhone.
Can You Unsend SMS Text Messages?
An iPhone can send two types of text messages by default: an iMessage, which can only be sent to someone who is also using an iPhone or iPad, and an SMS text, which can be sent to any other type of mobile phone. Once you press Send on an SMS message, it is sent and there is nothing you can do to get it back.
Can You Unsend iMessage Text Messages?
Unlike an SMS message, iMessages do not use the cell tower network at all, instead hooking into your Wi-Fi or cellular data network and sending the message using your data instead. This gives you the ability to tell if a message has been delivered and even to see if it has been read. Apple has announced that iOS 16 will include functionality to edit and delete messages, with an expected release date of fall 2022. However, on older versions you cannot unsend an iMessage.
How to Unsend an iMessage (iOS 16 and Later)
With iOS 16, you can unsend a message through the screen with your chat. Simply tap and hold on the message you want to unsend, and wait for the options menu to appear before you release. Then choose "Undo Send" from the options that appear and the message will be unsent for everyone. However, it's important to keep in mind that you can only undo the message within 15 minutes of initially sending it.
This feature also doubles as an "Edit" button for your messages, with an option to make a change to the text also shown in the menu.
Unsend a Message When Texting Via an App
There are alternatives to using Apple's built in text-messaging system, including secure messaging apps available on Apple's app store such as Threema (see Resources). These apps allow you to send messages – to other app users only – that are not only secure but that also allow you to recall unread messages, wipe already read messages and even send messages that will automatically delete themselves after a set amount of time.
Other common messaging apps such as WhatsApp (see Resources) also have the option to delete or unsend messages. WhatsApp explains that you can delete messages using a similar method to in iMessage: tap and hold the message for the menu, then tap "Delete."
Be Careful, Be Skeptical
Some apps claim to be able to recall text messages sent via SMS or require you to confirm every message before you send it. However, none of these types of apps are approved by Apple and they all require that you jailbreak your phone. Before you consider taking such a drastic step, consider that if something goes wrong with the process, Apple will consider your warranty void.
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