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Tech tips

What REALLY happens when you unsend, edit or delete a text in iOS 16

Should you upgrade to the iPhone 14? It includes crash detection, satellite communication in an emergency, and pro models get an always-on screen. Tap or click here to check out more on the new iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods Pro. Our verdict: If your phone is still working fine, hold off for now.

If you have an iPhone 8 or newer, you’ve probably already updated to iOS 16. The latest operating system introduces cool new features, such as the ability to customize your lock screen and update the apps you use most, including Mail, Health, Wallet and Maps.

The big news is that you can finally edit and unsend text messages. We’ve been waiting for these features for a long time. It sounds like a great idea, but it’s not as clear-cut as it seems. We’ll show you the truth behind the Apple curtain.

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

The reality: They’ll get a notification.

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 attesting to that fact.

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: Once again, they’ll get a notification.

Ever want to change a text after sending it? 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.

Now that you know the full implications of editing a message, 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.

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 for 30 days. For example, if you receive a spam text and delete the entire thread from the sender, it shows up in the recently deleted messages file. You can recover it or delete it permanently right then and there.

NOTE: Text messages that 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.

WARNING: Anyone can see your deleted messages if they have your passcode.

You may also like: Use private browsing to erase your digital tracks (iPhone, iPad, Mac)

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