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How to Unsend an iMessage: A Quick Guide

Can you unsend an iMessage?

We’ve all experienced that Homer Simpson DOH! feeling after hitting send on a message we did not mean to send. Maybe you noticed a typo that makes your message confusing or even offensive. Perhaps auto-correct wildly changed the meaning of your text.

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For too long now, iPhone users have been out of luck when they’ve had iMessage regret. But with iOS 16 and beyond, Apple finally added the ability to unsend and edit recently sent messages. 

This guide will teach you how to use these new features to save yourself from embarrassing iMessage faux pas.

What Are iMessages?

First, let’s quickly cover what makes an iMessage different from regular SMS text messages. 

iMessages are messages sent between Apple devices like iPhones, iPads, and Macs over Wi-Fi or cellular data, rather than your cell provider’s network. They use Apple ID accounts and appear in blue chat bubbles.

SMS texts use your phone number and appear in green bubbles. Note that unsending and editing only work on iMessages, not SMS.

Prerequisites to Unsend or Edit

To unsend or edit an iMessage, you need to be running iOS 16 or later on your iPhone, iPadOS 16 or later on iPad, or macOS Ventura on Mac. The recipient also needs one of these updated operating systems to not see your original sent message.

If they’re running an older OS version, they’ll still see your original message and get a note that you unsent it or see both versions if edited.

You only have 2 minutes to unsend and 15 minutes to edit an iMessage after sending before the options disappear. And keep in mind the recipient can view edit histories by tapping on the “Edited” label under messages.

Step-by-Step Guide to Unsending an iMessage

Ready to learn how to remove that embarrassing iMessage from the conversation? Follow these steps:

On an iPhone or iPad:

  • Open the Messages app and navigate to the conversation with the wayward message.
  • Long press on the message bubble itself. This will pull up a menu.
  • Tap “Undo Send” in the menu.

On a Mac:

  • Open the Messages app and navigate to the conversation.
  • Control + click on the message bubble. This brings up the menu.
  • Click “Undo Send.”

Once you hit undo, the message will disappear from the conversation as if you never sent it. Both you and the recipient will see a system message indicating the text was unsent.

Remember, recipients on older iOS or macOS versions will still be able to see the unsent message.

How to edit an iMessage

Step-by-Step Guide to Editing an iMessage

Made a minor mistake like a typo in an iMessage? Editing lets you fix it, provided you act within 15 minutes:

On an iPhone or iPad:

  • Open Messages and go to the conversation.
  • Long press the message bubble to bring up the menu.
  • Tap “Edit” in the menu.
  • Make your changes to the message text and tap the blue checkmark to resend.

On a Mac:

  • Open Messages and go to the conversation.
  • Control + click the message bubble for the menu.
  • Click “Edit” in the menu.
  • Make your changes and press Return to resend.

The edited message will appear in the conversation with “Edited” underneath it. Recipients on updated OS versions will see only the edited message.

People on older iOS or Mac versions will see both the original and edited message in the conversation. 

Final Takeaways

If you just texted your mom instead of your significant other, there’s still hope to avoid that super-awkward Thanksgiving shame spiral. With iOS 16, you’ve got a magic wand in the form of unsending and editing texts. It’s like having a “Ctrl+Z” for your iMessages. Or, if you’ve just fired off a hot mess message, remember you have 15 minutes to edit and turn that gibberish into Shakespearean prose. 

Just a heads-up though, this wizardry only works if both parties are iOS16 people. So, before you text, maybe send out a PSA: “Update your phones, folks; my thumbs are unpredictable!” Here’s to fewer facepalms and more high-fives in your texting future.

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