How to Edit or Unsend an iMessage in iOS 16

iMessage on iPhone
Samar Haddad / The edge

We’ve all done it: we texted and then immediately regretted it. Whether it’s a text to your parents with a misspelling they’ll never let you forget, a message with a bad word (“I don’t want to come to the party!” instead of ” I want to come to the party!”), or a sudden realization that you’ve just sent your message to the wrong person – it can be embarrassing at best and disastrous at worst.

While messaging apps like Signal, WhatsApp, and Viber all have a version of “delete for everyone”, until now you couldn’t do anything about it on iMessage except to follow it up with an “I don’t. didn’t mean that!” message.

In iOS 16, Apple introduced a feature to its iMessage chat app that lets you cancel 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 meant to be secret. If you cancel or edit a message, your recipient will be notified of the change – if they also have iOS 16. If they have an earlier version of iOS and you edit a message, they will simply receive another version of the message. — and unsending will not delete the message from their device.

In this spirit….

To delete the message

3 iOS screens showing message being edited
To delete a sent message, long press the message within two minutes of sending.
  • Long press the message.
  • In the drop-down menu, tap Cancel send.
  • The message will immediately disappear (in a rather nice “poof”) and be grayed out on your iMessage screen, with “You haven’t sent a message” below.

In the first public beta of this feature, you had 15 minutes to unsend your message. However, this was changed in two minutes, after which the option will disappear from the drop-down menu.

To change the message

iMessage with changes shown
You can see all your previous changes.
  • Long press the message.
  • In the drop-down menu, tap Edit.
  • Edit your message and tap the checkmark to the right of the message to send the correction. (Or tap the “x” to the left of the message if you changed your mind about editing the text.)
  • If you want to see all your changes, press the small Edited link under post. You can then press Hide Changes to see only the last message.

You have a bit more time to edit a post – 15 full minutes. If you long press your message after 15 minutes, the Edit the option will no longer be in the menu. But there is another limitation: you can only modify it a maximum of five times; after that, the Edit option in the drop-down menu disappears.

Updated September 16, 2022, 4:10 p.m. ET: This article was originally published on July 15, 2022 and has been updated to reflect changes from the beta to the final version of iOS 16.

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