Unsend a message on iPhone. Possible?

Apple Support doesn’t provide any documentation about how to unsend an iPhone message. However, the community user support does explain this situation well. It’s not possible to unsend a message that has reached another person’s text message inbox.  You do have other options though.

Why can’t I unsend an iPhone message?

iOS’s user experts say it’s because of security reasons. All you can do is delete it from your phone and iCloud, but you can’t stop a message already sent to someone else’s phone. Once delivery of that text is confirmed on your phone screen, it’s too late. You can’t undo it like you might do if using a third party texting app.

How do I know it’s too late to unsend a message?

You’ll know your recipient has the message in their inbox when you see the word “delivered” below your sent message. You can’t unsend any iPhone message already confirmed as “delivered.”

By this time, you’ll have to say your apologies and maybe get over some embarrassment of sending the wrong person the wrong message. If you want to avoid this from happening again, think before you press “send” or use a third party messaging app from now on.

Can I delete a delayed message?

Sometimes, fate allows you the chance to delete a delayed message you know you shouldn’t have sent, much to your relief. This usually happens if you have a poor signal or a network error has occurred.

If you’re sending an iMessage instead of SMS, this may happen if Apple servers are experiencing some downtimes. It will either show a “pending” status or will have a red exclamation point and red text that says “not delivered.” If either of these occur, you have the option to retry sending it, at which point you can just delete it instead.

What if I delete the message from iCloud?

According to at least one Apple community discussion, it doesn’t matter. Ben, a Community Specialist says that deleting the message from your iCloud will not remove it from the message recipient’s phone.

Besides making it disappear from your iCloud account, the only other thing you can do is delete it from your own phone like you normally would. You have no control over a message already received by another person.

Additional Documentation

Apple support provides instructions on how to delete individual messages and entire conversations from your iPhone. However, it doesn’t state that you can remove those conversations from another person’s phone that you don’t have access to.

iOS support documentation also teaches you how to remove messages from your iCloud account to save room. If you want to have the “unsend message” feature, you’ll have to use a third-party SMS app.

What apps can I use to unsend an iPhone message?

You cannot unsend any iMessage app texts or SMS messages. However, some third-party apps will allow you to unsend text messages that you delivered while using them.

Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Skype and Viber all allow you to perform the “unsend message” command. You can also connect your phone number to these apps and send SMS messages through them.

Facebook Messenger

As soon as you realize you don’t want the person to see the message you sent, delete it. Just press and hold the message and choose the “remove for everyone” option. You must do this as soon as possible, however. You only have about 10 minutes to decide to unsend it—or until someone has read it, whichever comes first.

WhatsApp

Unlike on Facebook, you have a whole hour to decide you want your recipient to see your message—at least if they haven’t read it yet. Just like with FB Messenger, you can tap and hold the message. Then, select the “trash can” icon and choose the “delete for everyone” option.

Skype

Press and hold the message you want to delete. A pop-up prompt will appear. When it does, choose “more.” Then, choose the “remove” and/or “unsend” options. You can remove only messages that you sent and not an entire group conversation, but you can delete the conversation on your side.

In other words, deleting an entire conversation doesn’t remove any messages from another person’s device. You only have the option to “unsend” your own sent messages. Skype apparently no longer gives you a 60-minute time limit to do this as of 2022, but you still should erase unwanted sends as soon as you notice them.

Viber

Viber operates like FB Messenger, Skype or WhatsApp. You can open a conversation window. Then, press down on the message and hold it. After that, hit the “delete” option and select the messages you want to unsend and quickly press the “trash” can icon.

After you do that, a prompt will appear that says “delete for myself” or “delete for everyone.” If you have selected the second option, “delete for everyone,” the message will have officially been unsent. This doesn’t control whether someone has read it, but it does provide you a better chance of them not seeing the message if they haven’t read it yet.

Notice in the Viber support docs it doesn’t say anything about a message removal time limit. However, erase the “sent” text as soon as possible if you don’t want to take a chance of someone seeing it.

What happens if I send a text to the wrong person?

If you catch it fast enough, you may have the chance to interrupt the iPhone message delivery process. This requires one or more of these steps.

1. Enable Airplane Mode

Don’t waste any time. Enable “airplane mode” on your iPhone right now. If you do, it will stop your service connection, as if you’re on an airplane and can’t use your device for calling or browsing the Internet.  

2. Press and Hold Unsent Message

If you notice the message delivery status is still pending, which a red exclamation point and blurred loading graphics indicates, press and hold that unsent message. You’ll notice an option to delete it after you press “more,” which comes up while you are holding down the pending message.

3. Delete Message

After you have selected “more,” choose the “delete message” option. You don’t have to worry about anyone having seen it if the message delivery process didn’t complete.        

How do I prevent accidentally sending messages?

You don’t want to make sending messages in haste a habit whether it’s intentional or accidental. However, you can give yourself more time to decide if you want other people to read the messages next time, whether you meant to send the texts or not. That’s the beauty of using third-party apps with the “unsend” feature.

Using one of the third party messaging apps instead of your standard iPhone SMS or iMessage app can also help you undo some autocorrect embarrassments. However, you can also prevent accidentally sending messages before you’re done composing them. You can do this by confirming you want to send a message before you do allow its delivery.

Available Message Send Confirm App

A new option has shown up to confirm that you want to send an iPhone message existed since about 2011. You can use the ConfirmToSend app available via either Cydia or Sileo, two platforms associated with the iPhone.

You may have to set ConfirmToSend to work every time you power up your phone as of 2019. However, it still may provide you the extra assurance you have time to not let people read messages you don’t want them to read. It works not only for text messages, but it also can integrate into your Phone, Email or FaceTime and WhatsApp apps.

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About S. Santos

I am a tech columnist and blogger by trade, but I'm also an avid tennis player. In my spare time, I enjoy reviewing gadgets and gizmos from the world of tech. A lot has changed in the field since I started out as a writer back in 2009, so it's always exciting to keep up with all that's new. To me, there's nothing quite like getting my hands on a brand-new gadget or piece of software for the first time -- it's like Christmas morning every day!

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