In this hyper-connected world we assume that any message we send remains in storage for us to peruse in the future. But for SMS text messages, that is not the case. Once you delete that message of your iPhone, it pretty much disappears. There are ways to get back deleted text messages, however. Here are four ways to retrieve deleted texts on iPhone. How to recover deleted texts from your phone provider, how to retrieve deleted text messages via iCloud, and how to get back deleted SMS messages from iTunes backup. Finally, how to retrieve lost text messages using a third-party app.
Do let us know in the comments below if you are aware of any better ways of recovering deleted text messages on iPhone.
Retrieve deleted texts on iPhone: phone provider
The first port of call is your phone provider. Some - although not all - will keep a record of your text messages, and you are entitled to access them. It may even be as easy as logging in to your account online. For some it requires you to contact customer services. The answer may be no, but it costs nothing to ask, right? (See also: How to fix broken iPhone lock button.)
Retrieve deleted texts on iPhone: from iTunes backup
This works only if you automatically back up text messages. Again this won't always be the case, but even if you think you don't back up your messages it is worth a few minutes of your time to try.
1. Connect your iPhone to the PC with which you sync it. iTunes should open (if not, open it up manually).
2. You should see your iPhone in a box, top righthand corner. Select it.
3. Now choose 'Restore backup'.
4. All the data you previously backed up will now replace the data on your phone. It will take a few minutes. As long as you haven't backed up subsequent to deleting those text messages, they should now appear in the normal messaging list on your phone handset. (See also: How to stop extra contacts appearing in iOS.)
Retrieve deleted texts on iPhone: from iCloud backup
Unfortunately, iCloud doesn't back up SMS in all territories, and for all phone operators. My UK O2-operated iPhone 5 falls into this category. So the following may not work (which is a shame because this is the best backup you can have for your SMS messages). You'll need only to go to step 2 to find out if it will work or not, however. And for many people this is quite the easiest way of recovering those lost messages.
1. Login to https://icloud.com with your Apple ID and password
2. Click on Text Messages (if it isn't there your messages haven't been backed up).
3. If it is there searched the messages to find the ones you need.
4. Now go to your iPhone and choose Settings, iCloud on your iPhone.
5. Turn off Text Messages (or ensure it is turned off). I know this sounds counter-intuitive but stay with me people.
6. You'll see a pop-up. Select: 'Keep on My iPhone'.
7. Now turn back on text messages.
8. Tap 'Merge', and wait. After a few minutes the deleted text messages should appear back on your iPhone. (See also: How to use Slo-Mo on iPhone.)
Retrieve deleted texts on iPhone: use a third-party app
If neither of the options above has worked, it is time to go nuclear. Well, not nuclear exactly but it may cost you a couple of quid, and there is no guarantee it will work.
We've never used either of these, but a couple of third-party apps appear to have a good online reputation: WonderShare Dr.Fone for iOS and Tenorshare iPhone Data Recovery. Because even after you have 'deleted' messages they remain on your handset until overwritten, you should be able to recover deleted messages using these utilities (and others) - but there are no guarantees. The best advice if you are using one of these apps is to do so as quickly as possible after you realise you need to recover your deleted text messages. The longer you leave itm the more likely it is you will have written over the required part of the memory. (See also: The 5 best iPhone alternatives.)
Do let us know how you got on with trying any of these methods. And if you know of any better way of recovering deleted text messages, we would love to hear from you in the comments below.