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How to edit or unsend an iMessage in iOS 16

Take back that disastrous text (results may vary)

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

We’ve all done it: sent a text message and then instantly regretted it. Whether it was a text to your parent with a spelling error that they’d never let you live down, a message with a wrong word in it (“I don’t want to come to the party!” instead of “I want to come to the party!”), or a sudden realization that you just sent your message to the wrong person — it can be embarrassing at the least and disastrous at the worst.

While messaging apps like Signal, WhatsApp, and Viber all have some version of “delete for everyone,” until now, there was nothing you could do about it on iMessage except to follow it up with an “I didn’t mean that!” message.

In the iOS 16 beta, Apple introduced a feature to its iMessage chat app that allows you to unsend and edit a sent message — with some rules in place, which I’ll explain below. (In addition, the feature won’t work unless the recipient is also on iOS 16, iPadOS 16, or macOS Ventura.)

To delete the message

3 iOS screens showing a message being edited
To delete a sent message, long-press on the message within two minutes of sending.
  • Long-press on the message.
  • On the drop-down menu, tap Undo Send.
  • The message will immediately disappear (in a rather pretty “poof”).

In the first public beta, you were allowed 15 minutes to unsend your message. However, if you’ve installed the second public beta, that has been changed to two minutes. After two minutes, the option will disappear from the drop-down menu.

To change the message

iMessage with edits showing
You can see all of your previous edits.
  • Long-press on the message.
  • On the drop-down menu, tap Edit.
  • Edit your message and tap the check mark to the right of the message to send the correction. (Or tap the “x” to the left of the message if you’ve changed your mind about changing the text.)
  • If you want to see all of your edits, tap on the small Edited link below the message. You can then tap on Hide Edits in order to just see the last message.

You have a little more time to edit a message — a full 15 minutes. If you long-press on your message after 15 minutes have passed, then the Edit option will no longer be on the menu. But the second public beta added a new limitation: while you could edit that message as many times as you wanted in the first public beta, you now can only edit it up to five times; after that, the Edit option in the drop-down menu disappears.

And a reminder that neither option works if your recipient is on an earlier version of the OS (so don’t rely on this feature during the public beta). And there may be some other issues that you want to be aware of when using this feature. Still, it can be very handy.

Update July 28th, 2022, 10:45AM ET: This article was originally published on July 15th, 2022, and has been updated to account for changes in the OS (specifically, the amount of time you have to unsend a message and the number of times you can edit it).