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tech tip what really happens when you edit or unsend an apple iphone imessages text message
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Kim's column

Tech tip: What really happens when you unsend a text on your iPhone

If you have an iPhone 8 or later, you’ve probably already updated to iOS 16. The latest operating system has many new security features you should be using.

A super-secure mode was designed for politicians, activists, and journalists. I think there’s a great case to suggest this iPhone option for the elderly and vulnerable people in your life. Tap or click here for a closer look at Lockdown Mode.

Here’s another buried setting that just got upgraded: Your iPhone’s ability to detect sounds and alert you. Tap or click for steps to set up custom sounds, like your home’s appliances.

One of the most noteworthy features of iOS 16 is the ability to edit and unsend text messages. It’s not as clear-cut as it seems. Here’s the truth.

Myth: When you unsend a text, the recipient will never know.

Reality: Your recipient gets a notification.

Yes, you can take back a message you sent, but there’s more to it. The unsend feature only works with iMessage (iPhone to iPhone), and you and the recipient must be running iOS 16.

If you unsend a message to someone running an older version of iOS, they’ll still see it, and you’ll get a notification reminding you of that.

Here are a few more things to keep in mind when unsending a message:

  • You can only take back a message within two minutes of sending it.
  • The recipient can read your message before you unsend it.
  • If you unsend a message, it will disappear from the recipient’s screen, but they’ll be notified that you unsent it.

Now that you know how it works, here’s how to unsend a message:

  • While in an iMessage conversation, tap and hold the message you want to unsend.
  • Tap Undo Send.

iOS 16 adds more security features to protect your privacy and information. Tap or click here for the iPhone (and Android) security features worth enabling.

Myth: When you edit a text, the recipient will never know.

The reality: You guessed it — they’ll get a notification.

Editing a text follows the same rules. You can, but it only works with iMessage, and both iPhones must be running iOS 16.

If you edit a message you sent to someone running an older version of iOS, all your edited messages will appear on their screen, and they’ll get notifications of your edits.

Here are some things you need to know when editing a message:

  • You have 15 minutes to edit a text.
  • You can edit a message up to five times.
  • The recipient can read your message before you edit it.
  • The recipient can tap your edited message and see its edit history.

Here’s how it’s done:

  • While in an iMessage conversation, tap and hold the message you want to edit.
  • Tap Edit and make your changes.
  • Tap the blue checkmark when you’re done.

Are you an iPhone family? Here’s how to track your kid’s phone.

Myth: When you delete a text, it’s gone.

The reality: Those deleted messages stick around for a bit.

When you delete a text thread, it’s stored in a folder on your iPhone’s recently deleted messages file for 30 days. You can recover it or delete it permanently right then and there. That also means anyone can see your deleted messages if they have your passcode.

Here’s the good news: Text messages you unsend do not appear in the recently deleted messages file.

Here’s how to delete or recover recently deleted messages:

  • Open the Messages app and tap Edit in the top left.
  • Tap Show Recently Deleted to view messages marked for deletion.
  • You can delete a message immediately by selecting it and tapping Delete > Delete Message.
  • Recover a message by selecting it and tapping Recover > Recover Message.
  • You can tap Delete All or Recover All at the bottom of the screen to apply these actions to all your deleted messages.

Mac tip: Apple’s Safari browser blocks cross-site tracking, so you can enjoy the sites you use most without worrying about being followed. But there’s another tool to increase privacy. Tap or click here to erase your digital tracks.

Keep your tech-know going

My popular podcast is called “Kim Komando Today.” It’s a solid 30 minutes of tech news, tips, and callers with tech questions like you from all over the country. Search for it wherever you get your podcasts. For your convenience, hit the link below for a recent episode.

PODCAST PICK: Secret iPhone keyboard, Audacity update, 5 mistakes that ruin tech

Google Fiber’s 100 Gbps download speed, Starlink slows down, Audacity update, secret iPhone keyboard and 5 ways you’re ruining your expensive phone, laptop, tablet, and TV. Plus, you’ll use this eBay pro tip time and time again.

Check out my podcast “Kim Komando Today” on Apple, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player.

Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name, “Komando.”

Get more tech know-how on The Kim Komando Show, broadcast on 425+ radio stations and available as a podcast. Sign up for Kim’s five-minute, free morning roundup for the latest security breaches and tech news. Need help? Drop your question for Kim here.

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