Help! Retrieving deleted text messages?

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ealvin

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How can I retrieve text messages that I've previously deleted from my iPhone (in the last 3 months)? Also, is there a free or shareware option?

Thanks in advance for any help you can give me?
 

cjmnews

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With Apple supported tools, you have a couple options.

1. If the text messages were old and captured in a backup (iCloud or iTunes) then restoring that backup will restore those messages, but lose all messages that were sent and received since that backup was made.

If you are going this route with iTunes
  1. With iPhone NOT connected to PC, open iTunes
  2. Click Edit->Preferences and go to the Devices Tab
  3. Find your iPhone in the list and write down the date and time.
  4. Open File Explorer and go into the folder where the backups are stored (C:\Users\<login>\App Data\Roaming\Apple Computer\Mobile Sync\Backup)
  5. Your folder will have the same date and time as what you saw in iTunes, right click it and choose properties to see the date and time at the bottom and write down the seconds of that backup time stamp.
  6. Rename the folder and add a -YYYYMMDD-HHMMSS to the end of the name, changing all those letters to the corresponding Year, Month, Day, Hour, Minute and Second you wrote down. For example if you found the time stamp to be 12/19/2021 12:55 PM in iTunes and the Properties showed the seconds as 41, you would add -20211212-125541 to the end of the file name. The hours are in military time so add 12 to any time after 12pm.
  7. This will prevent the next backup from overwriting your old backup.
  8. Plug in your iPhone to the PC and let it back up to get a current backup.
  9. Repeat steps 2-7 for this new backup.
  10. In iTunes click on your iPhone
  11. Click on Restore
  12. Wait for the iPhone to be erased and reloaded with a new version of the operating system.
  13. When iTunes prompts to restore from a backup choose the older backup to get the messages.
  14. Wait for the restore to complete and disconnect the iPhone from your PC.
  15. Read your messages and save them somewhere off of the phone. Email them to yourself, forward to someone else. Save to Files.
  16. Hold the SHIFT key on the PC and connect the iPhone.
  17. In iTunes click on your iPhone
  18. Click on Restore
  19. Wait for the iPhone to be erased and reloaded with a new version of the operating system (no avoiding upgrades here, no going back either).
  20. When iTunes prompts to restore from a backup choose the newer (the one with the date from Step 9) backup to get the messages.
  21. Wait for the restore to complete and disconnect the iPhone from your PC.
  22. Now your phone is back to where you started, but you have the messages saved somewhere else.
You can't have 2 separate backups in iCloud that I know of. If you restore from iCloud, then your phone forgets everything since that backup.

2. If you enabled iCloud syncing of Messages BEFORE you deleted them (new feature in 11.4), then you can go into Settings-><Your Name>->iCloud
a. Turn off Messages
b. In the popup window tap Disable and Download Messages
c. Turn on Messages again.

With 3rd party tools, there are a number of iPhone recovery tools. I have no idea is any of them work, and since you are talking 3 months ago, I am doubting they will be able to recover them.

Hopefully these messages are worth it.
 

ealvin

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Sorry for my late response but health issues have got in the way.

Thanks for your superbly comprehensive response.
 
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