How to Delete, Back Up, and Recover SMS Text Messages on Android

Nancy Messieh 30-03-2017

If you’ve been thinking about spring cleaning your Android phone The 1-2-3 Guide to Spring Cleaning Your Android Smartphone If your Android phone has started slowing down after a bit of time, here's how you can speed it up again! Read More , a good place to start is your SMS app. You might not realize that your SMS conversations — especially those with images — can take up quite a bit of space on your phone. If phone memory is a precious commodity, it’s easy to delete individual messages or entire conversations to clear up space on your phone How to Free Storage Space on Your Android Device If you've run out of storage space on your Android phone or tablet, we can help you free it up. Read More ./t


Given the popularity of third-party SMS apps among Android users 7 Amazing Free Android Apps for Better SMS Text Messaging These apps will greatly improve your texting experience on Android. Read More , we’re going to walk you through how to delete your SMS messages on the stock app, as well as a selection of popular third-party apps.

As a bonus, if you’ve found that you tend to inadvertently delete messages you meant to hold on to, we’re going to show you how to get them back.

Samsung’s Stock Messages App

If you’re using a Samsung device running its stock TouchWiz software Android Skins Explained: How Do Hardware Makers Change Stock Android? Hardware makers like to take Android and morph it into something that is entirely their own, but is this a good or a bad thing? Take a look and compare these different Android skins. Read More , your default texting app is probably called Messages. Thankfully, it’s easy to delete messages in this app.

Delete One Message

To delete just one message, open up the Messages app, navigate to the conversation, and open it up.

Press and hold the message you want to delete until the Message options menu appears. Tap the Delete button at the top of the menu.

samsung delete single text message

Delete a Selection of Messages

With the conversation open, tap the More button in the top right corner and tap Delete. Checkboxes will appear next to the individual messages. Tap the messages you want to delete and tap the Delete button in the top-right corner.

samsung delete multiple text messages

Delete Entire Conversations

Open the Messages app to the list of your incoming messages. Press and hold the conversation you want to delete. Checkboxes will appear next to the individual conversations.

The conversation you selected will already be checked. You can delete that conversation by tapping the Delete button or check additional conversations to bulk delete.

samsung delete entire conversations

Other Messaging Apps

There are plenty of great third-party messaging apps Text Better With These Alternative SMS Apps for Android Don't like your default SMS app? Try a new one! Read More for Android users. While you’ll find that there may be slight differences in how to delete conversations or messages in these apps, the following instructions will apply to most apps, including Android Messages (which is made by Google and is the default texting app in stock Android), Pulse SMS, QKSMS, Textra, and ChompSMS.

Delete One Message

Android Messages, Pulse SMS, ChompSMS, and Textra — To delete one message, open the conversation, press and hold the message you want to delete until a menu at the top of the screen appears. Tap the trash icon to delete it. The screenshot below was taken in Android Messages:

third-party delete one text message

QKSMS — You cannot delete individual messages.

Delete a Selection of Messages

Pulse SMS and Textra — Delete a selection of messages by tapping and holding the message you want to delete until the menu pops up. Select all the messages you want to delete by tapping them, then tap the trash icon.

ChompSMS — Tap the menu (three dots) icon and tap Delete multiple. Checkboxes will appear by the messages for you to select the ones you want to delete. After you’ve made your selection, tap the checkmark to delete them. The screenshot below was taken in ChompSMS:

third-party delete multiple text messages

Android Messages and QKSMS — You cannot delete a selection of messages.

Delete Entire Conversations

Android Messages, QKSMS, Pulse SMS, and ChompSMS — To delete an entire conversation, open it up, tap the menu button (three dots) and tap Delete conversations. The following screenshot was taken in QKSMS:

third-party delete entire conversations

Textra — To delete an entire conversation, open it up, tap the arrow icon, and tap the trash icon.

Android Messages, QKSMS, Pulse SMS, and Textra — To delete multiple conversations, start at the messages list, press and hold one of the conversations you want to delete until the menu appears. Tap all the conversations you want to delete to select them too, and then tap the trash icon to delete them. On Pulse SMS, you can also delete individual conversations by swiping them to the left.

ChompSMS — To delete one or more conversations from the messages list, tap the menu button (three dots) and tap delete multiple.

If you prefer to keep your message inbox clean but don’t want to delete your messages, you can archive conversations in Android Messages and Pulse SMS.

Don’t want to worry about deleting messages? You can also take a look at these self-destructing apps and tools for secure messaging 5 Self-Destructing Apps to Send Secure Messages or Stay Organized If you want to ensure your data isn't stored anywhere, use these self-destructing apps to send sensitive information. Read More .

Restore Deleted Messages

If you’ve deleted messages by mistake How to Recover Deleted Text Messages on Android Recovering text messages on Android is tricky business. Here are the limitations, your options, and how to back up for the future. Read More , there is a way to restore them. The catch is that you have to have backed up your messages first. This certainly won’t help if you’re reading this after you’ve already deleted the message, but unfortunately, that is the only reliable option currently available.

SMS Backup & Restore

You can backup your messages directly on your phone using an app called SMS Backup & Restore.

DownloadSMS Backup & Restore (Free)

Open up the app and tap Backup. You can choose to backup all call logs, SMS messages, and/or selected SMS conversations. Make sure there’s a checkmark next to the items you want to backup.

You can then choose a backup location: Google Drive, Dropbox, or locally on your phone. If you choose to save it locally, you can choose the exact location of the backup.

sms backup restore text messages

After you create your first backup, SMS Backup & Restore will prompt you to schedule automatic backups. You can repeat backups by the minute, hour, or day. This feature is particularly handy as you can set it and forget it, knowing that your messages will be safely backed up.

If you want to create or edit a schedule, you can access this setting by tapping the menu button (three dots), then Preferences > Scheduled Backups.

sms backup restore scheduled

To restore your messages, launch the app and tap the Restore option. If you’ve created a local backup, the app will display it as your default option.

sms backup restore text messages

If you’ve backed up your SMS messages to Google Drive or Dropbox, you’ll be prompted to select which cloud service you’re using.

If you have backups in multiple places, it will default to the local copy, but you can switch to a cloud version by tapping the call log or SMS messages and then selecting your cloud service from the available tabs. (In the screenshot above, you would tap the local copy that it’s defaulting to that is labeled “Mar 21, 2017”.)

Once you’ve selected the backup of your choice, tap the Restore button. A message will pop up prompting you to make SMS Backup & Restore your default SMS app. This is necessary for the restore process to complete.

sms backup restore alert

Once the restore is complete, you can open up your SMS app of choice, and it will prompt you to make it the default SMS app again. To see the app in action, check out the video below:

Now It’s Your Turn

Keeping your phone clean can become a bit of a chore, but if you stay on top of your messaging app, you’ll find that you can save space for other important content like apps, music, videos, and photos.

If you use an iPhone too, you should know how to recover deleted texts on iOS How to Recover Deleted Text Messages on Your iPhone Wondering how to recover deleted text messages on iPhone? You might be able to restore from a backup. Here's what you should know. Read More .

Explore more about: Android, Data Backup, Restore Data, SMS.

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