How to Easily Delete Old Text Messages on iPhone or iPad

You might want to delete plain text messages because of the storage space they use. Also, you may want to delete messages for privacy reasons or just because it keeps your Messages app better organized. Plus, texts with images actually can take up a fair bit of room.

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You might want to delete plain text messages because of the storage space they use. Also, you may want to delete messages for privacy reasons or just because it keeps your Messages app better organized. Plus, texts with images actually can take up a fair amount of space.

By default, your iPhone and iPad save every iMessage and SMS text message that comes your way. As a result, you could have years of messages synced to iCloud that follow you for the rest of your life, taking up valuable space. Fortunately, there’s a way to delete old text messages automatically. Lets explore how this is done.

This is for the iPhone and iPad. Screenshots are from an iPhone

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First, lets check how much storage you are using for messages and attachments (like photos on an iPhone). Go to

Settings > General > iPhone Storage > (scroll down to) Messages

Notice the amount of storage used by Documents & Data, and tap on Review Large Attachments for more detail. Refer to below image where I can save 145 MB by deleting them:

Text 1
Viewing how much storage space is being used

Now, exit back to Settings (the gear icon) on your iPhone or iPad. See below image:

Text 2
Accessing Settings

Now, in Settings, scroll down and tap the Messages option. See following image:

Text 3
Accessing the Messages option

Next, in Messages, scroll down and tap the Keep Messages option. Refer to below image:

Text 4
Accessing the Keep Messages option. The default is Forever

By default, Messages is set to keep your SMS text messages and iMessages forever. Next, tap either 30 Days or 1 Year depending on how long you would like to keep your old text messages. See below image:

Text 5
Selecting your option on how long to keep text messages

After tapping your preference, you will see a pop-up dialog asking whether you want to delete all messages older than the time period you specified. If you are sure, just tap the Delete button. See following image:

Text 6
Pop-up window showing the option you selected

Next, exit Settings. From now on, Messages will automatically delete any messages once they hit the 30-day or 1-year mark, depending on which option you specified. Note! The default, Forever, will remain checked until you tap the Delete button.

Now, head back to

Settings > General > iPhone Storage > (scroll down to) Messages

and check your Messages storage for the amount of space you reclaimed.

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Please feel free to leave a comment. I would love hearing from you. Do you have a computer or smart device tech question? I will do my best to answer your inquiry. Just send an email to contact@techsavvy.life. Please mention the device, app and version that you are using. To help us out, you can send screenshots of your data related to your question.

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Author: Raymond

I am Raymond Oglesby, an Information Technology (IT) specialist with 30 years in the field. I have taught Microsoft Applications and troubleshot computers in 15 countries and many States. My career was focused on mainframes and desktops from application development to implementation. I have written hundreds of programs for various architectures. I decided to start a blog to share my knowledge and experiences with you. I plan on updating this blog at least twice a week about smart phone apps to Windows. Please feel free to leave a Comment or Tweet. I would love to hear from you. Do you have a computer tech question? I will do my best to answer your inquiry. Please mention the app and version that you are using. To help me out, you can send screenshots of your data related to your question.

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