Home Tech How to edit or unsend an iMessage in iOS 16

How to edit or unsend an iMessage in iOS 16

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iMessage on iPhone
Samar Haddad / The Verge

We’ve all done it: sent a text message and then instantly regretted it. Whether it was a text to your parent with a spelling error that they’d never let you live down, a message with a wrong word in it (“I don’t want to come to the party!” instead of “I want to come to the party!”), or a sudden realization that you just sent your message to the wrong person — it can be embarrassing at the least and disastrous at the worst.

While messaging apps like Signal, WhatsApp, and Viber all have some version of “delete for everyone,” until now, there was nothing you could do about it on iMessage except to follow it up with an “I didn’t mean that!” message.

In iOS 16, Apple has introduced a feature to its iMessage chat app that allows you to unsend and edit a sent message — with some rules in place, which I’ll explain below.

First, you should be aware that the process is not made to be secretive. If you unsend or edit a message, your recipient will be notified of the change — if they’ve also got iOS 16. If they have an earlier version of iOS, and you edit a message, they will simply get another version of the message — and unsending will not remove the message from their device.

With that in mind….

To delete the message

3 iOS screens showing a message being edited
To delete a sent message, long-press on the message within two minutes of sending.
  • Long-press on the message.
  • On the drop-down menu, tap Undo Send.
  • The message will immediately disappear (in a rather pretty “poof”) and will be grayed out on your iMessage screen, with “You unsent a message” under it.

In the first public beta of this feature, you were allowed 15 minutes to unsend your message. However, that has been changed to two minutes, after which the option will disappear from the drop-down menu.

To change the message

iMessage with edits showing
You can see all of your previous edits.
  • Long-press on the message.
  • On the drop-down menu, tap Edit.
  • Edit your message and tap the check mark to the right of the message to send the correction. (Or tap the “x” to the left of the message if you’ve changed your mind about changing the text.)
  • If you want to see all of your edits, tap on the small Edited link below the message. You can then tap on Hide Edits in order to just see the last message.

You have a little more time to edit a message — a full 15 minutes. If you long-press on your message after 15 minutes have passed, then the Edit option will no longer be on the menu. But there’s one more limitation: you can only edit it up to five times; after that, the Edit option in the drop-down menu disappears.

Update September 16th, 2022, 4:10PM ET: This article was originally published on July 15th, 2022, and has been updated to account for changes from the beta to the final version of iOS 16.

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