If you’re updating your iPhone to iOS 16 this week, you’ll want to spend a few minutes tweaking your settings. You definitely want to enable haptic feedback for the keyboard, you might want the battery percentage back in your status bar, and it’s a good idea to spend some time fiddling with your Focus modes.
But there’s one setting that’s so useful, and so hidden, that I completely missed it in my iOS 16 review. (Thanks to everyone who let me know!) It’s called Filter Senders unknown. If you enable Filter unknown senders – go to Settings, Messages and scroll almost to the bottom to find it – you can now filter your Messages app to show you only unread threads.
The feature has been around for a few years, and it was originally designed to do one thing: get the messages you don’t want out of your inbox. There’s no magic in delineation, really; the iPhone simply puts the messages from your contacts’ numbers in one place and those from unknown numbers in another. I never enabled this feature, not because I like robo-texts, but because I’m a journalist and I get a lot of text messages from numbers I don’t know. But it’s a good feature, and you should definitely use it if you’d rather not see confirmation numbers and spam messages mixed in with messages from friends and family.
I enabled it in iOS 16 and a new “Filter” button appeared on the top left of the Messages app. Once I tapped on it and selected “Unread Messages”, I instantly found those two pesky unread messages from months ago that kept the red badge on my Messages app. Going forward, thanks to another feature of iOS 16, I can now mark messages as unread and use the filter as a sort of communication to-do list.
It’s weird that Apple buried the unread filter behind Filter Unknown Senders, but it’s a very useful feature that I think I’ll probably use every day in the future. I’m glad I found it.