Recover Deleted Text Message iPhone

iPhone How To | Tuesday June 23 2009 4:27 pm | Comments (110) Tags: , , ,

Many iPhone user has been asking the question on how to recover deleted text message on iPhone. We understand some text messages can be deleted accidentally or intentionally, but somehow the need rise to have them back again. It can be frustrating to do so if you decide to use media storage software to recover those SMS messages, but luckily it’s easier than most iPhone users think.

If you decide to apply this article, please do so at your own risk. Although we think the steps suggested here are safe if conducted correctly and should not cause any damage to your iPhone, data will be lost if no good backup is available. Please insure you run a full backup and test it before attempting any of the steps below.

First of all, it’s important to note that if the iPhone deleted text messages were exchanged since the last sync, it’s not possible to recover those SMS message. It’s only possible to recover text messages if they were deleted AFTER the last synchronization with iTunes. In other words, recovering a text message is only possible if the you didn’t synchronize the iPhone with iTunes after deleting SMS messages.

FACT: SMS messages remain on the iPhone after deletion. When “deleted” on the iPhone, they are technically hidden and marked for deletion. Text messages are then deleted only after sync with iTunes.

In order to recover a deleted text message or messages, run through the following 4 easy steps:

Make sure iTunes doesn’t automatically sync with iPhone when connected.

Connect your iPhone to iTunes and Back up by selecting Preferences > Backup from iTunes, or right-click on your iPhone and choose back up.

Restore your iPhone by selecting Restore under Preferences. Note that restoring the iPhone will restore the previous iPhone firmware. Your iPhone will be completely erased after the new firmware is installed. So make sure your back up is good!

The final step will be to restore your iPhone from the back up you created on step 2. This will allow you to restore any data you have backed up, including the “deleted” text messages.

That’s it!

It’s important to distinguish between iPhone data restore and iPhone firmware restore.

iPhone data restore allows you to restore data you have already backup on iTunes. This is your photos, video, text messages…etc.

iPhone firmware restore is pretty much like a restore to factory switch. This will restore your iPhone to the previous firmware or system and no user data. This option is often recommended if your suspect that your iPhone OS or iOS is unstable.

We hope you find the above steps to restore iPhone deleted text messages helpful and we’ll appreciate any feedback or comments you may have.


We have had a tremendous feedback on this how-to post. The process worked for some people and didn’t for others. We highly recommed you backup your iPhone before doing anything else. Also ensure you read the comments below with experiences from people who tried a different approach to restoring deleted iPhone text messages.


  1. Comment by Sara — June 24, 2009 @ 2:05 am

    Pretty nice post. I just found your blog and wanted to say
    that I have really enjoyed reading your posts. Any way
    I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

  2. Comment by Joe — July 4, 2009 @ 12:40 pm

    Explain in more detail

  3. Comment by KonstantinMiller — July 7, 2009 @ 3:49 am

    I have been looking looking around for this kind of information. Will you post some more in future? I’ll be grateful if you will.

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  5. Comment by Panther — September 28, 2009 @ 9:31 pm

    Please help me with this cuestions. Once I open Itunes and conect my Iphone (Ivé made sure it doesn´t automaticlly syncs) i go to preferences and i cant find any way to make a backup in that menu, the only way Ivé been able to backup is by right clicking over the Iphone icon on the left of Itunes and theres the option,´after backing up you say that I need to restore trough the preferences menu again, but theres nothing in that menu to restore, the only way I´ve found to do it is in the main sync window just below the Iphon update theres a restore button, Is this the one you are talking about?

  6. Comment by John — December 10, 2009 @ 1:39 am

    So, you’re saying simply backing up the iPhone, then restoring it, will restore DELETED txt messages, as long as the phone wasn’t synched AFTER those messages were deleted?

  7. Comment by orbit — December 14, 2009 @ 1:48 pm

    Correct. Text messages are only hidden when deleted from iPhone, so restoring the iPhone before synchronizing with iTunes should restore those deleted message.

  8. Comment by monique — February 19, 2010 @ 4:43 pm

    I have synced the phone so l won’t be able to retrieve any of the deleted msgs deleted before the syncing? can l only retrieve the deleted msgs that were deleted after the phone was synced?

  9. Comment by Emeril — February 24, 2010 @ 12:52 pm

    My iPhone has not been synched at all with iTunes – can I recover deleted text messages if no previous backups exist? It seems that you are saying that if you have a previous backup of your iphone, you can restore it and recover those messages.

    My deleted messages are from the past few days – no backups anywhere – just the iphone itself -

    Can I recover my deleted messages in this case?



  10. Comment by Luke — February 25, 2010 @ 1:04 pm

    Can anyone verify this? This will save my life!

  11. Comment by Joe — March 26, 2010 @ 5:14 am

    This did not at all work!

  12. Comment by texter — April 15, 2010 @ 2:47 pm

    Did anyone get this to actually work?

  13. Comment by Cara — April 18, 2010 @ 9:11 am

    Nope, I’m sorry but really you need more detail.
    I’m a mac user, and even though I don’t have my settings set up to sync as soon as my iphone is set up, following your vague instructions cause my iphone to automatically sync, which I’m a bit pissed off about to be frank.

    Where is this preference>Back up you speak of? The only way I could find it was by alt+clicking on my iphone and backing it up there, and the same for restoring the data, which wouldn’t let me restore it to the firmware as per your instructions suggest it should.

  14. Comment by akaila — April 22, 2010 @ 9:07 pm

    SO i addition to what john said, if i back up the iPhone, then restore it, it will restore the DELETED txt messages, and you will be able to see the deleted conversation back on your iphone under messages, as long as you don’t synch?

  15. Comment by PageUno — May 2, 2010 @ 3:01 pm

    The way you have to do this is to: 1) connect your phone to iTunes; 2) cancel the sync immediately so the phone does not synch; 3) on the left side of the iTunes page, go to Devices, find your phone and right click on the icon indicating your phone; and 4) select “Restore from Backup” from the drop-down menu. It will take a few minutes, but your text messages will be restored to what they were at the time of your last synch.

  16. Comment by Edgar — May 9, 2010 @ 5:46 pm

    The confusing thing was, how do I restore from last back up? Also, people needed “more details.” So I figured it out, and hopefully this helps others: Before connecting the iPhone, go to Edit>Preferences>Devices and click on “Prevent iPhones and iPods from syncing automatically.” Then, you can connect your iPhone without it syncing (It might say “iPhone is syncing,” but it’ll stop instantly). When iTunes finds it and displays it on the left navigation bar, you can right-click on it and select “Restore from Backup…” The restoration will begin, and that’s pretty much it; now you have your messages (or anything else) back :)

  17. Comment by Edgar — May 9, 2010 @ 6:53 pm

    Oh, by the way, it completely restores it back to how it was at the last backup; meaning that any messages / pictures / whatever will also get deleted! If you want to keep any pictures taken after the last backup, you can simple email them to yourself and either 1) just keep them in your email, 2) keep them on your computer, or 3) download / save them onto your iPhone from your Mail application. Then, with the messages, you can practically do the same (copy + paste onto email), but it won’t save them as a conversation again, just as text.

  18. Comment by Suzy — May 14, 2010 @ 4:01 pm

    I called Apple and there is no way to recover text msgs once they’ve been deleted!

  19. Pingback by Undelete MMS Message - TiPb iPhone, iPad, iPod Forums — May 20, 2010 @ 1:50 pm

    [...] sucks. This is something I came across, hopefully it will help: Recover deleted text message iPhone | Apple iPhone News good [...]

  20. Comment by H — May 24, 2010 @ 11:14 am

    probably a stupid questions, but after the restore, are all apps etc erased? and can i save my apps to itunes? apologies if this is an incredibly dim question, but I’m extremely new to this!

  21. Comment by orbit — May 26, 2010 @ 6:20 pm

    Yes, a restore will delete all apps.

  22. Comment by orbit — May 26, 2010 @ 6:22 pm


  23. Comment by orbit — May 26, 2010 @ 6:25 pm

    Yes, as long as you didn’t synch it should be possible.

  24. Comment by Lewisia — May 31, 2010 @ 3:14 pm

    I think I’m getting there but not quite. I’d like to be able to retrieve the deleted text messages and also keep the photos, apps that were on the iphone.

    1. Before connecting the iPhone, go to Edit>Preferences>Devices and click on “Prevent iPhones and iPods from syncing automatically.”
    2. Connect the iPhone without it syncing (It might say “iPhone is syncing,” but it’ll stop instantly).
    3. When iTunes finds it and displays it on the left navigation bar, right-click – or double click? -on it and select “Restore from Backup…”
    4. The restoration will begin.

    5. This will restore text messages that have been deleted between now and the date of the last backup, so they show up as text messages on the iphone again?

    6. But this also deletes any photos or apps on the iphone?

  25. Comment by elsauce — June 9, 2010 @ 9:08 am

    so, i did this. made sure not to synch

    backed up. restored. no dice.

  26. Comment by Luds — June 9, 2010 @ 9:55 am

    The above method is great, but only one thing missing / Confusing.
    Since and as it is well explained above distinguish between iPhone data restore and iPhone firmware restore, the data restore is obtained by connecting the phone and when it appears on the left of iTunes, this is WHERE you have to RIGHT CLICK and select restore.

    No need to reset the whole thing to factory settings, this is confusing, same thing not need to go to Preferences > Backup and the rest.

    Good luck, it worked for me. Luds

  27. Comment by Martin Black — June 14, 2010 @ 9:06 am

    Your scenario is still unclear on where this will work. If I take a backup (auto synch in itunes turned off) on monday; send a text on tuesday; delete the text on wed; backup on thu – will the text be recoverable from thursday’s text?
    There are a lot of posts saying your method wont work, and I think this is because you are assuming the target text was created before the backup; and deleted after – the restore will then basically bring back the text which was not in a ‘delete’ state when the backup was taken. Is that the case? Please clarify.

  28. Comment by Jess — June 15, 2010 @ 4:57 am

    This actuaaaaaally works!!
    I think the idea is, those of you who have an iphone should regularly back up your iphone…(i think this happens automatically when you sync) as i deleted and entire years worth of msgs…and they are all back :) well except for the last week since i synced it last!

    Hope you all have the luck I did!

  29. Comment by Happy — June 22, 2010 @ 10:21 pm

    It worked! I was very happy and got what I wanted.

  30. Comment by Mark London — June 23, 2010 @ 3:50 pm

    Try these guys. They have a tool that lets you access text messages in your iPhone back up files and save them to your computer. Hope it helps!

  31. Comment by Karen — June 29, 2010 @ 1:38 am

    This did not work. I lost all my pictures and apps! and the messages did not come back up on the phone.

  32. Comment by jdub — July 4, 2010 @ 10:14 am

    ok same question as above that nobody has seemed to answer. if the iphone has never been backed up, does it need to be backed up and then attached again to cancel the sync and restore from there. or do i need to cancel the sync first or by doing that will it inadvertently delete the carbon copies in the user section?

  33. Comment by barn — July 5, 2010 @ 8:18 pm


  34. Comment by barn — July 5, 2010 @ 8:20 pm


  35. Comment by Tom — July 8, 2010 @ 4:25 pm

    This absolutely worked, and is very easy. Last night, I accidentally deleted my girlfriend’s texts over the past 6 months. The texts are crazy good and I was completely bummed. I don’t sync very oftern but luckily had just done so for my 3G due to the new OS release. The release, by the way, makes my 3G painfully slow. Anyway, just followed the instructions as provided and within 2 minutes my phone was back to where it was 2 weeks ago.

    Thanks so much. I am very grateful.

  36. Comment by Kay — July 9, 2010 @ 1:35 am

    Hi, I have the same question as Emeril No.9 – my iphone has not yet been synced to itunes, is it possible then to retieve deleted messages (both sent AND received) if this has not yet happenned and if so, please can you talk me through this is great detail as I am also very new to this. The conversations I need are from 5 months ago and are extremely important regarding a custody battle – please can you help me? I am desperate for this information ASAP, if possible. Many Thanks.

  37. Comment by iPhone Dude — July 10, 2010 @ 12:32 am

    This post saved me! You should work for Apple tech support! Thanks!

  38. Comment by BlueJamSam — July 25, 2010 @ 2:03 am

    I tried the Decipher TextMessage thing and it worked great. Thanks!

  39. Comment by Hugardo_ar — September 3, 2010 @ 11:02 pm

    Hi guys,
    I was trying to find how te avoid the iTunes data restore process, because between backups deleted SMS in the iPone get losts….for ever.

    The best way I found was modifying a little bit the SMS database inside the iPhone (this is a very basic solution but effective !).


    1) You must have access to the “victims” iPhone vía SCP (I use WinSCP), log to the iPhone and get a copy of the SMS database (/private/var/mobile/Library/SMS/sms.db)

    2) Open the SMS.db (I use Navicat Lite for SQLite is free) select “message” table the right click and select “Duplicate Table”

    3) You’ll get a new table called “message_copy” select and rename it to “shadow” (or any other name you want)

    4) Scroll down to “Triggers” option in the left, right click and select “New Trigger” once new window apperas select “message” in the drop down “Table Name”

    5) In option “Fire” select “AFTER” then “On Event” option check “Insert”.

    6) Click now on the upper tab called “Body”, erase all the content an copy this:

    INSERT INTO shadow (address,date,text,flags) VALUES (new.address,,new.text,new.flags);

    7) After that select “Save” in the menu options and give a name to the trigger (I choose “insert_shadow”)

    8) Now, close Navicat Lite and with WinSCP put the sms.db modified again in the iPhone (You´ll receive an Overwrite warning…select YES)

    Ok, reboot your iPhone.

    Now, each time a SMS arrives o leaves the iPhone will be recorded into the “shadow” table, no matter if this SMS is erased in the original table (message) you allways have a “Shadow Copy”.

    All what you have to do now, is to access remotely (with SinSCP) to the iPhone each time you can (or wants) and get a copy of the sms.db you modified, open it, look at the “shadow” table and VOILE !!…a copy of ALL the SMS (erased or not) where there.

    I hope help to someone with this brief tutorial.

    Happy hunting :)

  40. Comment by No One — September 27, 2010 @ 3:40 am

    DO NOT TRY THIS! This absolutely DOES NOT WORK. I accidentally deleted a text conversation over 7 months old which held hundreds of texts. I did NOT synch my iphone since deleting them. Instinctually it made more sense for me to just right click and choose “Restore from last back up” which was Sept 17th but the above directions say to first click on “Back up” then Restore, which I did. This resulted in none of the deleted messages reappearing. I don’t understand the point of the step in clicking on “Back up” unless you have added information to your phone since the last back up that you’re afraid of losing (which I wasn’t). This step should have been listed as optional for those it applied to and not just a general step. Thanks for the incompetent advice which now has caused my messages to be irretrievable when they were COMPLETELY RETRIEVABLE before reading this website . I think if I had just clicked on “Restore to last back up” which was on Sept 17th I would have my texts right now. To the author: You really shouldn’t be posting technical advice, especially since many of us need to retrieve our texts for very important reasons. Your directions obviously don’t work for a lot of people (including those who DID NOT SYNC their phone since the text as deleted) and your directions are totally unclear.

  41. Comment by Pearl — October 5, 2010 @ 9:50 pm

    This SHIT didn’t work and i read all the comments before I tried to restore anything!!!

  42. Comment by Stephen Charles — October 6, 2010 @ 2:56 pm

    Thanks for the tips! Decipher TextMessage tool did the trick for me. So happy to have these deleted text messages back! Phew. ; )

  43. Comment by thomas — October 8, 2010 @ 3:39 am

    It works but not for me i deleted before i saved

  44. Comment by ?? — October 8, 2010 @ 4:38 pm

    Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about information and love learning more on this. If possible,it is very helpful for me.

  45. Comment by Sabrina — October 13, 2010 @ 4:10 pm

    This was a bunch of b.s
    I didn’t get anything to work PLUS it deleted almost everything.
    It deleted my most sacred pictures I had on my phone.
    Yes, i do have them on my computer but it would be much better to have them on my phone as well.
    This ruined my phone.
    Thanks a lot.
    A bunch of B.S is what it is.

  46. Comment by orbit — October 22, 2010 @ 8:36 am

    @No One, I’m sorry the process didn’t work for you, but I believe you have missed a step – most likely deselecting Auto Synch when connecting iPhone to iTunes.
    %99.9 of the reasons why people unable to retrieve deleted iPhone text messages are:
    - Synching automatically before backup
    - Jail breaking
    - Restoring the firmware i.e. factory default
    The backup up process is critical because it saves all HIDDEN text messages that has been deleted from the iPhone UI. When you restore from backup, the restore process brings back access to the hidden text messages and make them available where they normally are.
    In most of the cases people want to restore recently deleted text messages, hence the absolute need for backup.

  47. Comment by purcy — October 28, 2010 @ 5:29 pm

    For VHD..

    I modified the sms.db file as described in you comment. On my iphone, the hack works just as you described, but not on my other iphone. In fact, I can not always even see text messages in the sms.db message table that have not even been deleted. Any ideas? Is it possible, there is more than one sms.db file, and I am modifying the wrong one?


  48. Comment by want this to work! — November 1, 2010 @ 10:50 pm

    i was at the step to restore my iphone…. and was starting to do it but i can’t do it without ALSO updating my iphone with new software apparently. (like the button says “restore and update”. i got nervous because i thought that maybe once i updated the software it wouldnt be able to use my ‘back up’ bc it was from the old software. you know what i mean? like since my phone will have the new software it cant use the old backup.
    do you have an opinion on this, orbit?

  49. Comment by Lloyd — November 5, 2010 @ 4:28 am

    If you are attempting to restore deleted messages, DO NOT BACKUP! Simply restore from last back up.

  50. Comment by Nacho — November 17, 2010 @ 8:06 pm

    I did all steps just as stated.
    I dont have auto sync.
    I did a fresh backup, did the system restore, the did the restoring of the backup and guess what. It was a waste of time, same text messages as before doing this whole thing.
    All text messages I had deleted are gone!

  51. Comment by Nacho — November 17, 2010 @ 8:13 pm

    Say you did a backup on Oct-15, then you texted and deleted text messages on Nov-1st. Everything between Oct-15 and Nov-1st will be lost using the described technique.

  52. Comment by szandokan — December 9, 2010 @ 2:21 pm

    Lets pour Clear Water:

    If you attach iTunes (autosync is off) and hit RESTORE without “backing up” first: ONLY TEXT MESSAGES THAT YOU HAD ON YOUR PREVIOUS BACKUP WILL SHOW UP.

    If you attach(sync is off) and back up first (no restoring yet), this backup data will be stored on your computer and this data will also contain the “hidden” deleted sms-files which were deleted AFTER! your last Backup with iTunes.


    :1 you can use a 3rd party software e.g. “Decipher text Message” or “Iphone backup extractor”, “syphone”, “missing sync”, to look around in the Back-up-file on your computer (made with iTunes) for existent and deleted sms messages. // That is how “Iphone spy stick” is working. It makes a backup (this backup data also includes the “hidden” deleted sms-files), and then it let you search in this backup data for existent and deleted sms texts //


    :2 you can restore this NEWly Made Backup-file (containing the deleted sms data) back to your Iphone, with the help of Itunes through the Restore option. Unfortunatelly if you hit Restore, the firmware on your Iphone will also be updated through Itunes…so if there was a lot of time between the deleted sms and today, the firmware come probably old on you Iphone and will not be the same (older), as what Itunes will want to Restore NOW.


    If you ever accidentaly connected your Iphone to iTunes, -just to look at mp3s or whatever-, and didnot turned “auto sync” off before, iTunes probably synced your Iphone (for a second or two) as you detached the Iphone from your computer hitting the deattach button. But with this, all the “hidden” files containing the deleted sms were killed (erased).
    Hence some guys didnot get the deleted sms back, altough they followed the descriptions.
    The same is if you Jailbreaked the iPhone After the sms was deleted.

  53. Comment by szandokan — December 9, 2010 @ 3:30 pm again:

    The mentioned steps in the original header post are confusing!!:


    STEP 1:
    Make sure iTunes doesn’t automatically sync with iPhone when connected.
    Before connecting the iPhone, go to Itunes and select Edit>Preferences>Devices, and click on “Prevent iPhones and iPods from syncing automatically.”

    STEP 2:
    Connect your iPhone to iTunes and right-click on your iPhone-icon on the left and choose back up. This will Back up your User-datamaking a back-up-file on your Computer (this is containing the “hidden” deleted-sms-data)

    STEP 3:
    Restore your iPhone by selecting Restore under Preferences. Note that restoring the iPhone will restore the previous iPhone firmware. Your iPhone user-data will be completely erased after the new firmware is installed.

    STEP 4:
    The final step will be to restore the user-data of your iPhone from the back-up-file you just created on step 2. To restore the user data (containing the deleted sms-data) select Preferences > Backup from iTunes. This will restore the user-data you have backed up in Step 2, including the “deleted” text messages!!! the previously “hidden” deleted messages on the iPHONE WILL BECOME again “seeable”.
    Thats the trick…

    Summa summarum:

    Through backing up your user data, then cleaning the iphone, and then restoring the user-data back to the iPhone from the backed-up-file makes the “hidden” files (deleted sms) again “seeable” on the iPhone!!!

  54. Comment by szandokan — December 9, 2010 @ 3:50 pm again:

    With this trick all the deleted sms messages will be “seeable” again, which were deleted AFTER the last (auto-)SYNCRONISATION with Itunes.

    NOTE: Synchronisation with Itunes and backing up user data with Itunes (without auto-sync!!) are two different things!!

    So if you made sure (a long time ago, as you bought your Iphone) that Itunes doesnt automatically sync with iPhone when connected, then all the deleted sms txt is STILL stored “hidden” on your Iphone -since you own your Phone- .

    If auto-sync was enabled, all the deleted sms BEFORE the last auto-sync (while attaching or detaching from Itunes) is gone…

    Therefore: if you backed up your Iphone regularly, but without letting Itunes auto-sync your Iphone, then STILL all the deleted sms-txt are stored in a “hidden”-file on your Iphone.

  55. Comment by szandokan — December 9, 2010 @ 4:16 pm

    me again:

    possible variations:

    1 NEW Iphone, no backup, no (auto-)sync with Itunes, no firmware restore/upgrade, no jailbreak: all the deleted sms txt is STILL stored “hidden” on your Iphone.

    2 NEW Iphone, backed up once, and no (auto-)sync yet, no firmware restore/upgrade, no jailbreak: all the deleted sms txt is STILL stored “hidden” on your Iphone.

    3 NEW Iphone, no backup, but auto-sync for example last week: only the deleted sms which were deleted AFTER the auto-sync are STILL stored “hidden” on your Iphone

    4 NEW Iphone, backup No1, firmware upgrade, then auto-sync twice, than backup again (backup No2): only the deleted sms which were deleted AFTER the LAST auto-sync are stored “hidden” on your Iphone.
    -> BUT !!!: if these deleted sms are written/ received before the backup No1, then you could get it back through Restoring your user-data on the Iphone not from backup no2-file, but backup no1-file !!!!!!
    (Just learn how to search for different backup-files made with Itunes at different times on your computer, and then do the user-data recovery from the old backup-file.)


    Through backing up your user data, then cleaning the iphone, and then restoring the user-data back to the iPhone from the backed-up-file makes the “hidden” files (deleted sms) again “seeable” on the iPhone!!!
    These “hidden” (deleted sms) files will be killed, everytime Itunes (auto-)syncs your computer, or you make a firmware upgrade or jailbreak. But if you made a “emergency”-backup before doing this upgrade/jailbreak/syncronisation, then the deleted sms-files are still inside this “emergeny”-backup, only “hidden”. But you can use a 3rd party software e.g. “Decipher text Message” or “Iphone backup extractor”, “syphone”, “missing sync”, to look around in this “emergency”-Back-up-file on your computer for the deleted sms messages.

    I hope its somehow more clear than before

  56. Comment by chulacat — December 19, 2010 @ 8:04 pm

    IT WORKED!! IT WORKED THANKS SO MUCH!! all I lost were a few minutes of texts but that ok cause I got 3 months worth of texts back =)))

  57. Comment by Stian — December 27, 2010 @ 7:28 am

    so I tried this, and it works for deleted messages-
    BUT I can´t recover SMS´s when I accidentally clicked- CLEAR ALL!
    any help there????

  58. Comment by Boldlygo — February 2, 2011 @ 9:17 pm

    Worked perfectly. A whole year’s worth of txts restored in minutes. However DO NOT back up unless you deleted the txts since the last back up was carried out.

  59. Comment by Justine — February 3, 2011 @ 6:17 am

    Like some other reviews, I was unable to follow the instructions as listed. They were a bit confusing since I didn’t see the menu options the author was referring.
    But I saw reviews say to go to the iPhone device on the left side and right click, then click “Restore from backup” and this worked for me! I was able to get back the text message from my last sync. You can’t get back the messages that were deleted after the sync. (But I prefer losing a week’s worth than months worth!)
    I also noticed I lost a few apps that I swear I had when I last synced. But that’s no biggie as I just redownloaded them.
    This article (and especially the reviews) saved me!

  60. Comment by SerenityValley — February 18, 2011 @ 4:13 pm

    There are computer forensic products out there that parse out deleted text/SMS messages from iPhones. There are consumer versions available as well that are easy to use and don’t “hack” your phone. Do a search for deleted text messages for iPhones and look for the advertisements for these products.

  61. Comment by chetan — February 28, 2011 @ 12:26 pm

    i want the messages sent by 9738119170 to 9738117381,9844832768,9035594830

  62. Comment by Nick — March 1, 2011 @ 2:32 am

    This worked flawlessly for me, thank you so much i really needed to get my text messages back and it worked perfectly. MUCH APPRECIATED!!!

  63. Comment by Macy — March 18, 2011 @ 7:44 pm

    Well im a woman soo..i wanna find out what my boyfriends been up too i know for sure that he’s deleted msg. off this iphone but im very curious to know why? So what your saying is if i do this it would show all his deleted msg. from when he last deleted them ? but it want show any of his previous new contacts or apps or anything previous that is new to the iphone? and what is a back up??? i kno these questions are kinda slow ;/

  64. Comment by MACboyet — March 21, 2011 @ 7:42 am

    the correct way is..
    when u accidentally delete an important message… as long as u have sync(back-up) before it was delete(just recently).. 100% u can recover it..

    - always sync ur iPhone with iTunes..
    - in case u delete a file, sms DO NOT sync,BACK-up..

    - just restore it from the latest back-up. and that’s it!

    the method discuss by the author is simply confusing..

  65. Comment by MACboyet — March 21, 2011 @ 7:48 am


    for new deleted msgs that has no back-ups…
    you need to have a 3rd party app to recover it..

    that’s all

  66. Comment by Terrible Instructions — March 25, 2011 @ 5:14 pm

    The directions are totally misleading. Steps 2, 3 and 4 are unnecessary.
    All you are supposed to do is cancel automatic sync and then restore from your latest back up.

    Wish I had listened to all the people who said NOOOOOOO DONT DO ITTTTT.

  67. Comment by Daniel — March 30, 2011 @ 8:33 am

    I’ve been experimenting and playing around with all this and this is the outcome:

    Attach your iPhone, let it sync.
    Left hand side under ‘Devices’ right click and click on ‘Back Up’. This will only BACK UP YOUR CONTACTS, CALENDARS, NOTES, MESSAGES and SETTINGS! So if you delete any photos, videos, or apps, it won’t restore them as I’ve found out the hard way!!!
    Again if you delete photos or videos, they will not be restored!!
    Back to iTunes, I clicked on ‘Summary’ tab and went to ‘Version’ and clicked on ‘Restore’. I read what it said and clicked on restore. I found that all my apps, photos and videos were still there but none of my CONTACTS, CALENDARS, NOTES, AND MESSAGES!!
    Since I did a back up before I ‘Restored’ my iPhone to it’s original settings I had the option of restoring my CONTACTS, CALENDARS, NOTES, AND MESSAGES again!!

    Now for ‘App’s’- I’ve found that if I’ve downloaded an app and delete in straight away without syncing my iPhone, it won’t appear in the ‘App’s’ tab. I’ve deleted a whole bunch of apps that has been synced previoulsy and they all show up in the ‘App’s’ tab and I can then tick the ones I want to sync back and install to my phone without having to download them again!

    Hope I made sense here!!!

  68. Comment by Sunshine1 — April 5, 2011 @ 3:57 pm

    Just want to make sure that after step 3 i will not loose my unlock or jailbreak……pls let me know asap

    “STEP 3:
    Restore your iPhone by selecting Restore under Preferences. Note that restoring the iPhone will restore the previous iPhone firmware. Your iPhone will be completely erased after the new firmware is installed. So make sure your back up is good!”

  69. Comment by macanon — April 9, 2011 @ 12:55 am



    I made the mistake of above and couldn’t retrieve a specific text message. So I went first went into the backup folder located in:
    Users>your name>library>application support>mobilesync>backup.
    Highlight backup folder
    Click Time Machine Icon on your Mac Desktop
    When time machine is open click the date to when you want to receive the correctly dated last backup
    Click Restore Button in Time Machine at bottom of screen
    **Clicking restore will overwrite all recent backups made after that date on iphone
    Now make sure syncing is turned off in Iphone Preferences
    Click the correct backup folder and ok button
    Go to itunes and right click restore to backup on iphone icon
    Wait for instructions as iphone does the restore
    You are all set and your old text message that was last backuped will show on your iphone!!! Yay

  70. Comment by iphoneuser16 — April 10, 2011 @ 2:59 pm

    this DOES work. i didnt think it would until i tried it. i got back all the messages from someone on my phone so it does work

  71. Comment by Dawn — April 13, 2011 @ 9:52 pm

    What if my iPhone is jailbroken ? Then what will happen

  72. Comment by Marco — April 14, 2011 @ 3:41 pm

    This is a simple question that has never been answered. What if you don’t have a backup? What if you have only connected to iTunes for initial activation? Can I retrieve deleted text messages?

  73. Comment by Yayne — May 10, 2011 @ 11:59 pm

    AGREED- Nacho.
    Did everything that was stated correctly… and lucky enough for me I didn’t lose anything else BUT- because I have never previously backed up my iphone, I only did it last night before this process…. All went well BUT the deleted folder of messages were not there at all!!! :(

    Totally gutted

  74. Comment by BPed — May 26, 2011 @ 12:45 am

    So sad that I did not read the full range of comments before trying this. Looks like step 2 had actually wrote over my backup that had the text with a version that did not. Not to happy about this.

  75. Comment by Pete — May 28, 2011 @ 10:51 pm

    I hoped it would work, it didnt

  76. Comment by jenny — June 6, 2011 @ 3:00 pm

    I am haveing a similar problem

    I have hidden message that I dont want on my phone so how so I erase hidden messges and not retrieve

  77. Comment by oer — June 7, 2011 @ 12:35 am

    every time i would plug my iphone onto my laptop it would automatically sync my iphone for whenever i wanted to upload pictures on Facebook etc

    and one day i accidently cleared all my texts from my boyfriend (about 6 months worth) and this is what i did:

    “Before connecting the iPhone, go to Itunes and select Edit>Preferences>Devices, and click on “Prevent iPhones and iPods from syncing automatically.””

    then connect it and when it shows up on itunes on the left hand side i right clicked on my iphone and chose “restore from back-up”

    and then just waiting until it fully restored..

    what happened was 6 days before i accidentally deleted the texts i synced my iphone, where it must have created a back up. so when i clicked restore from backup, it restored my phone from exactly how it was 6 days ago.(app highscores and all) but it did delete the photos which i took in those 6 days :( i use a mac so i have an application called iphoto – some users can try and sync their photos first if they want to save them (not sure if that would work :/) but im not sure about pc’s sorry.

    so i didnt mind losing the texts i had in the last 6 days in place of the 6 months of memories

  78. Comment by Rusty — June 18, 2011 @ 8:19 pm

    This might not work for everyone but it worked for me – I accidentally deleted a whole conversation which consisted of literally about a thousand messages, which was very important to me. I found this guide a couple of hours later and followed the steps in comment 16 (by “Edgar”), and then had all of the messages sent and received prior to my last sync. I did lose a couple of apps that I had downloaded before the last sync, which is a little peculiar, but they were much less important to me.

    Thanks so much for the help!!!

  79. Comment by mia — June 19, 2011 @ 6:34 pm

    little bit confused with all the feed back ….

    i need to get some deleted messages back on my iphone SO when i restore will i get everything back on my phone contact, calenders, notes, picture, vidoes and everythinh=g else that goes back on including the deleted messages.

  80. Comment by Sally — June 21, 2011 @ 9:34 am


    Im a bit confused I can not see when I connect my phone an option for restore from back-up only restore, if I click restore it then asks me if I want to back up my phone, surely if I back up it will overwrite my last back up of yesterday, I accidentally deleted a msg I needed to keep last night.

    Anyone any ideas, where I find the restore from back up?

  81. Comment by vivian — June 28, 2011 @ 11:50 am

    if I did everything ,but cannot turn on my phone after restore from back up, what can I do, can I buy a new phone and do restore from back up again?

  82. Comment by Hmmm — July 3, 2011 @ 12:20 pm

    I was very skeptical and spent a few hours rereading all of the comments and deliberating on what to do. There were some points that were confusing so I’ll pass on here how I got this to work.

    1. Turned off autosync in iTunes.
    2. Backed up the iPhone.
    3. Restored. This was confusing because 1) There’s nothing about Restore in Preferences in iTunes. Either it used to be there in earlier versions or it’s only in Windows (I’m on a Mac). If you right-click on your iPhone on the left side of the screen in iTunes under Devices, you get the option of Restore from Backup (this the data restore mentioned in the instructions). Alternately, you have Restore in the middle of the Summary page when your iPhone is highlighted, under Version. That Restore resets your iPhone to factory settings (the firmware restore of the instructions). I was very hesitant to click on that and didn’t, and a little unsure what to do because of the vague directions. I opted for the Restore from Backup option after right-clicking on the iPhone under Devices on the left side of the screen in iTunes. I restored from the backup I made today in Step 2 above. That processed for a couple of minutes, then restarted the iPhone, then synced it automatically (I was quite worried about that with all of the commentary saying not to sync). Result: No changes and no restored messages.

    So, I realize now that I didn’t quite follow the directions (though I was trying to). But, there’s hope.

    I tried macanon’s suggestion of going into Time Machine. I highlighted the backup folder in Finder, then entered Time Machine and brought back the earlier backup that was on my computer a couple of hours earlier–the backup I did in Step 2 overwrote it (saved as the same name). I went back into iTunes, did the aforementioned Restore from Backup and selected the earlier backup version. I got my deleted thread of messages back (5 months worth), but lost all information since that backup, which was about 3 days worth of messages, phone calls, and stuff. There wasn’t much that was important in the last few days, so I’m happy with it like this.

    I can’t say whether Restoring to factory settings in Step 3 and then Restoring from the latest backup (after the deletion) works to bring everything back.

    But I got the main thing I lost back, so thank you very much to the person who started this thread and the comments as well!

  83. Comment by brian — July 3, 2011 @ 8:14 pm

    Worthless. I recovered nothing. I should’ve just backed up from my last plug-in. Thanks for exactly nothing.

  84. Comment by Kruger — July 4, 2011 @ 7:17 am

    This didn’t work for me. My last backup was 6/12. The issue happened to me tonight. Lost all text messages right after sending a MMS with pics.
    I googled and found this site. I followed the directions:

    1) Connected iPhone to the PC and did a backup of the phone by selecting backup from the iPhone object in the left pane of iTunes (right-click).

    2) Clicked on the iPhone in iTunes and went to the Summary tab, and did a restore of the phone (it’s not called “Preferences” it’s the “Summary Tab” after clicking on the iPhone. It restored the latest firmware to my iPhone.

    3) After the restore it asks by default if you want to restore from backup. I selected the backup I took earlier in this process. It restored, then immediately did a synch after the restore once the iPhone showed back up in iTunes. The synch restored my apps, email, etc. but it did not restore my Photo Album or Text messages. Haven’t looked at any other data yet.

    So no luck here. I tried a different method as well. I did a erase all from the iPhone (General Preferences), to restore it to factory settings that way, from the iPhone. After that is done the iPhone shows up in iTunes and a prompt to restore from backup is presented. I selected that and chose the backup I took tonight. This didn’t work either. It looks like the phone took the backup correctly but the text messages and photos never came back even though I could do a search for the missing texts in and find them cataloged on the iPhone just not showing up in Messages before I took the backup. Now that search doesn’t find them.

    Be warned if this doesn’t work for you, you will lose your last backed up iPhone data. In my case from 6/12 as the backup you take as part of this process will nuke the previous backup which means you not only lost just the texts from between your last backup but you lose ALL your texts as the abilty to simply restore to the 6/12 backup (in my case) is gone.

    This is a pretty horrible intermittant bug on the iPhone. There should be no excuse for data loss as a result of a bug like this. Even if you backup everyday you still will lose the delta data between the daily backups if this happens to you.

    Shame on Apple.

  85. Comment by Lizz — July 11, 2011 @ 4:48 am

    Okay I followed all the steps and the wierd thing is that nothing was different. I restored from the latest backup but the deleted texts do not come over under the message app. I can search them and see all of them but I cannot open them when I select them, because the phone re-directs me to the empty message app.

    My Iphone 4 crashed when I was sending a MMS message. I got the apple screen for about a minute and then when I got back to my home screen I went to the message app and all were gone.

    If anyone has any advice or information as to how I can re-cover these messages I would greatly appreciate it. I can search the messages on the phone so they are not completely gone. THANKS in advance


  86. Comment by gs — July 13, 2011 @ 10:20 pm

    Just like oer, I followed the same steps and it worked for me too. Worth losing 2 days worth of data to gain back invaluable months…

  87. Comment by Sean — July 18, 2011 @ 3:55 pm

    Should the deleted texts show up in Decipher Text Message before you restore and get the new firmware, or will they only show in the 3rd party application after the restore is done? Decipher text message is currently not showing me anything except the 15 messages since I deleted my conversations, and I already did my backup, so I don’t want to get the firmware and have to redo all my apps and music and everything if there is no point, as the messages aren’t showing up. So bascially I’m asking if I should already be able to view the deleted ones in the 3rd party app after the backup, or if I need to restore to be able to view. Thanks!

  88. Comment by John L — July 21, 2011 @ 1:06 pm


    I know you posted almost a year ago but Im hoping you will see this. I found your option very interesting. I have a couple questions:

    1) How do you access the Iphone via WINSCP and log into the phone.

    Once I figure that out then I think I can do the rest.

    Please help. Thanks Joe

  89. Comment by Eric Fox — July 21, 2011 @ 4:33 pm

    Ok, this sounds like it would work PERFECTLY. All my messages got deleted when I sent a picture message. But I turn auto-sync off, plug my iphone in, and it thinks it is a new iphone and shows the “welcome to your new iPhone” screen! It wont let me back up or anything, the only option I have it to eject when I right click on my iPhone. WHAT THE HELL?

  90. Comment by jeebus — July 24, 2011 @ 4:51 pm

    okay this works.If it didn’t for you, you weren’t listening therefore got stung by your own ignorance/arrogance, it depends really.


    backup without sync = PULLS ALL INFORMATION FROM THE PHONE INCLUDING WHAT YOU DELETED* that’s what he was getting at the whole time.

    this is just a work around/loophole whatever you want to call it.

  91. Comment by Tina — July 29, 2011 @ 2:17 pm

    It worked for me, thanks for the information :)

  92. Comment by youmad? — August 1, 2011 @ 5:46 am

    The directions aren’t really vague if you know how to use itunes.

    for PC users (Excluding MAC)

    1. Plug your I-phone into your computer. When it tries to sync, simple use the slider on the I-phone to cancel the sync before it can finish.

    2. Once the I-phone can be located in Itunes, simply right click and choose to back up the I-phone from the selections listed.

    3. Now you can restore the I-phone to it’s factory settings by clicking the I-phone icon and then clicking restore.

    4. After the restore has completed (it takes about 3-5 minutes) you will be given the option to back your I-phone up from the last back up you created.

    5. Choose to back it up from the last known back up created.

    6. Enjoy :D

  93. Comment by KaRiNa — August 3, 2011 @ 4:48 am

    Hey it worked for me good thing my last sync was almost 2 days ago THANKS for the info. I sooooooooo love GOOGLE

  94. Comment by PJ CARR — August 14, 2011 @ 8:17 am

    (mac Useer) OK, I turn on my prevent Iphone from syncing. Plugged in phone. Clicked on my iphone and its says restore, but it says only the word “restore” but the side sentence says you can restore its orginal setting by clicking restore. thats orginal setting… i lost a lot of text messages

  95. Comment by PJ CARR — August 14, 2011 @ 8:51 am

    ok. Im at this point sync 3 days ago. today deleted text. my iphone sync is turned off. so no phone sync. where do i find the restore from back up

  96. Comment by PJ CARR — August 14, 2011 @ 10:43 am

    OK, you non believers. I DID IT and I am not good at computers………………………..I have a MAC……This Worked…………The “STORE” employee should retrained. He told my data was lost…………………maybe I was using the wrong word. I call to see if I could recover deleted texts.

    Maybe this will help others, all the notes above help me especially OER.
    1) before connecting the iphone, go to itunes and select edit>Preference>Devices, and click on prevent iphone and ipods from syncing automatically….

    2) plug in Iphone

    3) When the phone appears in the drop down below the itunes, click it.

    4) on a mac, control / click and you will see the drop down. now click restore from back-up. Click it.

    Now go smoke a cigarette or drink coffee or what ever will take your mind off the subject.

    I sent all my photos to my email that was taken after my last sync Fortunately my sync was a few days ago.

    Also I found this information in the help file on my itunes.

    What I am not happy about is the “Store” employee telling me these files were lost forever.

    My only wisdom in this all is SYNC and SYNC often……………………

  97. Comment by iraina — August 16, 2011 @ 7:42 pm

    Does this work on iphone 4 even if the spotlight search is off

  98. Comment by Dilan — August 19, 2011 @ 7:07 am

    Simple English

    I’m using I phone 4 from Dec 2010
    Yesterday (18 Aug) around I accidently deleted one contact all MSG from Dec 2010 till now.
    FYI – 18 Morning around 6 am I was sysn my phone with I tunes (it automatically take backup every sync with I tunes)
    Today 19 Aug 10 am I connected my phone to I tunes (make sure you will not sync the phone this time)

    Right click the phone from lest side & click restore will restore the phone till last backup (which was on 18 Aug 6 am)
    After restore I got all my msg till 18 th
    What ever msg from 18 to 19 will be lost

    What I noticed is when I restore I will restore all below
    Call log
    Applications – not sure coz there was no change happen from 18-19
    Songs – will not restore
    What even created in the phone after backup will be lost when restore happen.

    Hope this will clarify all q you having

  99. Comment by Dilan — August 19, 2011 @ 7:08 am

    another thing
    everytime when you sync phone with i tunes it will take a backup & remove previous backup. so always you will have last backup.

  100. Comment by michellle — August 19, 2011 @ 8:40 am

    K…. followed all the instructions, everything seems fine… but no deleted text messages have magically appeared.. I assume they are suppose to be in the message box?

  101. Comment by Ford — August 21, 2011 @ 3:51 am

    Maybe I didn’t hear this right, but I was told that everything deleted on your iPhone never leaves the sims card. I was told that you can get a sims reader and use a data recovery software that would pull all deleted messages up…Does anyone know about this? I’m looking for messages that were deleted months ago and the iPhone has since been synced to iTunes!!

  102. Comment by Xiao Pfohman — August 24, 2011 @ 2:28 am

    UGH it just deleted everything!

  103. Comment by Lulu — August 24, 2011 @ 8:39 am

    Can any one tell me if I can backup a 3GS iphone using itunes without the need to enter the phone’s password (the phone is password protected but I don’t know the password)

    Thanks to the post that mentioned Decipher TextMessage. It works, I backed up my iphone using itune then used Decipher to read all the messages.

  104. Comment by FRanky — August 25, 2011 @ 2:42 pm

    Dumb post, you tell people to do a back up and then a restore, this will delete the backup that has there text messages and create a new one of the phone currently without the text messages. People SKIP STEP 2!!!!! AND GO TO 3 IF YOU WANT TO RECOVER YOUR TEXT!

  105. Comment by natalie — August 27, 2011 @ 8:40 am

    Tried this step by step with iPhone 4. Did not get any deleted msgs back. Haven’t synced the phone since 7/7/11. Lost my apps, didn’t recover msgs…kinda disappointed…

  106. Comment by ss — August 28, 2011 @ 6:47 pm

    I need help in comment 53 above. I have Iphone 3G

    Step 3 – I’m not able to locate ‘Restore” in ‘preference’. I checked under ‘device’ tab, I’m not able to locate. I see only ‘delete backup’

    Step 4 – I’m not able to locate ‘Back-up from I-Tunes’ in ‘preference’

    I would appreciate if anyone could help me in finding the above

  107. Comment by ss — August 28, 2011 @ 10:19 pm

    Can we restore messages that have been deleted using ‘clear conversation’ command & not using ‘delete’ command in Iphone 4

  108. Comment by dinosaur — August 29, 2011 @ 4:11 am

    THIS IS GREAT BIG BULLSHIT. doesnt work.
    szandokan’s method doesnt work for new iphone as well.
    i restored from the back up in step 2, how come it still doesnt work.
    what else can i do?

  109. Comment by Debelina — September 7, 2011 @ 5:31 am

    I just restored my iPhone from backup. IT WORKED!!!! I got all my texts back. I backed up my phone on August 26. Anything I put on my phone after that date (pics, calender, notes etc) I lost.

  110. Comment by Ryan — November 16, 2011 @ 9:05 am

    Read the instructions people. It works and it sooo easy.

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