Fix Show Recently Deleted Messages Not Showing up or Not Working on iPhone

The “Show Recently Deleted Messages” feature on iPhones is a lifesaver for those “Oops, didn’t mean to delete that” moments. It’s a nifty tool that keeps your deleted messages in a separate folder for 30 days, giving you a grace period to recover them. When this iMessage option goes haywire, it can throw a wrench in your digital life, making it crucial to get it back on track.

Why “Recently Deleted Messages” Might Not Appear on your iMessage Option


Let’s cut to the chase. If you’re scratching your head wondering why the “Recently Deleted Messages” folder is playing hide and seek on your iPhone, there are a few boxes you need to tick off.

This feature is not a given; it has some prerequisites. One of the key conditions is that your iPhone must be running on iOS 16 or later. The iOS option won’t even make a cameo appearance if you’re still on an older version. So, updating your iOS might just be the magic wand you need.

Another point to consider is the timing of the message deletion. The feature only kicks in for deleted messages after installing iOS 16. If you’re trying to recover a message deleted before the update, you’re out of luck. It’s like trying to cash in a lottery ticket from last year; it’s just not going to happen.

Now, let’s talk about the 30-day rule. The clock starts ticking once a message lands in the “Recently Deleted” folder. You have exactly 30 days to recover it before it vanishes into the digital ether. After that, it’s gone for good, no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

How to Troubleshoot iOS iMessage Issue and Fix Show Recently Deleted Messages Option Not Showing up or Not Working on iPhone

Check Your iOS Version and Update when Necessary

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Having the latest iOS version is more than just a bragging right; it’s often necessary to access the latest features, including the “Recently Deleted Messages” folder. An outdated iOS can be the culprit behind the feature’s absence, so ensuring you’re up-to-date is crucial.

To check your current iOS version:

  • Open the “Settings” app on your iPhone.
  • Scroll down and tap “General.”
  • Select “About,” and you’ll see your current iOS version next to “Software Version.”

How to Update your iOS to the Latest Available Version

If you find that you’re not on the latest version, updating is usually a straightforward process. Here’s how to do it:

  • Go back to the “General” menu in “Settings.”
  • Tap “Software Update.”
  • If an update is available, you’ll see an option to download and install it. Tap that, and your phone will do the rest.

Remember, before updating, it’s wise to back up your data. You can use iCloud or your computer for this. Also, ensure your iPhone is connected to Wi-Fi and has enough battery life for the update process, which can take some time.

Verify Message Deletion Date


Knowing when a message was deleted is crucial for its recovery. The “Recently Deleted Messages” feature on iPhones has a 30-day expiration date, like milk in your fridge, but for your digital life. Even the most advanced tech wizardry won’t bring that message back if you’re beyond that window.

So, how do you find out when a message was deleted? The Messages app doesn’t offer a straightforward way to check the deletion date. But you can get a good idea by looking at the surrounding messages. Remembering a specific event or conversation when the message was deleted can serve as a clue.

The 30-day rule is non-negotiable. Once a message is deleted, the clock starts ticking. After 30 days, that message is permanently deleted. It’s a one-way ticket with no return journey. So if you’re within that window, act fast. Time waits for no one, not even deleted messages.

If you’re trying to recover a message that’s been deleted for more than 30 days, it’s unfortunate but true that the message is gone. It’s like a Snapchat message that’s been viewed; there’s no getting it back. So, the 30-day rule is not just a guideline; it’s the law of the land in the realm of iPhone messaging.

Accessing “Recently Deleted” Through Filters

The “Recently Deleted” folder isn’t always front and center in your Messages app. Sometimes it’s tucked away, and you’ll need to use the Filters option to find it. Open your Messages app and tap on “Filters” at the top left corner. From there, you should see an option for “Recently Deleted.”

But what if you’ve done all that, and the folder is still playing hard to get? It’s frustrating, no doubt. In such cases, a simple restart of the Messages app can sometimes do the trick. Close the app completely and reopen it, then try navigating to the Filters option again.

If the folder isn’t showing up, you might consider other factors. Could it be that you’re not on the latest iOS version, or perhaps the messages you’re looking for have passed the 30-day mark? These are variables that can affect whether or not you’ll see the “Recently Deleted” folder.

Turn Off and Turn On your iPhone

Sometimes, your iPhone needs a quick reboot to shake off minor issues and get things running smoothly again. Think of it as hitting the reset button on your device. It’s a straightforward fix that could bring your “Recently Deleted Messages” folder back to life.

Rebooting an iPhone isn’t a one-size-fits-all operation; it varies by model. For iPhone 8 and later, quickly press and release the Volume Up button, do the same with the Volume Down, and then hold the Side button until the Apple logo appears. For iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, it’s the Volume Down and Sleep/Wake buttons held together. If you’re rocking an iPhone 6S or earlier, hold down the Home and Sleep/Wake buttons simultaneously.

Once your phone restarts, return to the Messages app and check for the “Recently Deleted” folder. If it’s back, great! If not, you might want to explore other avenues, like checking your iOS version or verifying the deletion date of the messages you’re trying to recover.

It’s always a good idea to ensure you’ve saved important data before rebooting. Better safe than sorry when it comes to your digital treasures.

Restore Messages from iCloud Backup

Restoring from an iCloud backup is what you do when things go south. This method can be particularly useful if the “Recently Deleted Messages” folder gives you the cold shoulder. iCloud backups usually contain your messages, so restoring from a backup might just bring back those elusive deleted texts.

Here’s how to restore from an iCloud backup:

  • Make sure you’re connected to Wi-Fi.
  • Go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud > Manage Storage > Backups.
  • Check if you have a backup that predates the deletion of your messages.
  • If so, go to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings.
  • Follow the on-screen instructions until you reach the “Apps & Data” screen, then tap “Restore from iCloud Backup.”
  • Sign in to iCloud and choose the backup you want to restore from.

But hold your horses; there are some caveats. Restoring from a backup will replace all the current data on your phone with the data in the backup. That means you could lose any messages, photos, or files created after the backup was made. It’s a trade-off, so weigh your options carefully.

Also, make sure you have a stable Wi-Fi connection throughout the process. The last thing you want is for the restore to fail midway because your Wi-Fi decided to take a coffee break.

Contact Apple Support for Further Help on the Issue

Sometimes, you’ve tried everything, and the “Recently Deleted Messages” folder remains as elusive as ever. In such cases, it might be time to bring in the experts—Apple Support. They’re the folks who know the ins and outs of your iPhone, and they can provide specialized assistance.

Gather some essential information before you make that call or start that chat. You’ll need your Apple ID, the iOS version you’re running, and any error messages you’ve encountered. Having this info at your fingertips will make the support process smoother and more efficient.

Apple Support can perform diagnostic tests you can’t do alone. They have access to tools and data that can pinpoint the issue. So, if you’ve reached the end of your troubleshooting rope, don’t hesitate to contact them.

Remember that some support options may come with a fee, especially if your iPhone is out of warranty. It’s a good idea to inquire about potential costs upfront so you’re not caught off guard.

Wrapping It Up

When the “Recently Deleted Messages” feature isn’t working as expected, it can be more than a minor inconvenience; it can disrupt your digital life. From ensuring you’re on the latest iOS version to rebooting your iPhone, there are several troubleshooting steps to consider. And if all else fails, Apple Support is there to assist, armed with specialized tools and expertise to get you back on track.

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