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How to Edit and Delete iPhone Messages on iOS 16

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So, has everyone updated their iPhones yet? There are many good things to unpack, but for my money, the ability to edit and delete posts is the piece de résistance.

There are a handful of catches – one that shouldn’t take that long, a few that are somewhat restrictive but not a big deal, and one that will almost certainly always be a problem – but beyond that, the feature itself works quite well. Here’s what to do.

First the catches

Just a little cleaning before we start. For this to work as designed, the person on the receiving end of your messages must also be using an Apple gadget with iOS 16. Once that’s taken care of, though, it’s smooth sailing.

The second problem is twofold: first, you can’t undo a message until two minutes after sending it. Second, you can edit a post up to five times within 15 minutes. So those late-night text messages you sent to your ex are digitally concrete in the morning.

The third problem, also twofold, is that your recipient can see that you didn’t send a message, even if the message itself is destroyed. And for messages you edit, your recipient can see previous versions of the message. In other words, if in doubt, destroy it.

The last problem is that this only works between Apple gadgets. Messages sent to Android phones are not undone or edited, believe it or believe it.

Now on to the good stuff

Okay, so we updated our iPhone to iOS 16, yes? And our receiver has an iPhone with iOS 16, yes?

To unsend the message in question – remember, within two minutes – just long-press the message and select Unsend. That’s it: nothing too complicated. Keep in mind, though, that your recipient will see that you didn’t send a message, even if they can’t see the message in question.

To edit a message, same order: long-press the message you want to edit, then select Edit—remember, only five times within 15 minutes. Once you have received your message the way you want it, tap the blue check mark and the new version will update itself at the end of your recipient.

And remember here that your recipient can view the revision history. So if you text your ex, “I still love you and I can’t stop thinking about you” and then edit it to “Hey, I’ve got some of your mail,” you might get an uncomfortable conversation.

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