How to delete WhatsApp messages you already sent

By

WhatsApp unsend delete
WhatsApp now lets you unsend messages.
Photo: Cult of Mac

WhatsApp, one of the world’s most popular messaging apps, now lets you unsend messages — albeit with a time limit. And not just on your phone, either. If you delete a message, it will be removed from the conversation for anyone who is participating.

That’s great news for folks who are prone to sending messages to groups instead of individuals, or who decide that a late-night photo drunk-texted to the boss was less of a bonding moment and more of a potential-firing moment. Here’s how to undelete your messages in WhatsApp.

How to delete sent messages in WhatsApp

In the United States, texts and iMessage still rule as the communication options of choice, but everywhere else it’s Facebooks’s WhatsApp. The app is so popular and pervasive that it has convinced whole towns full of aging parents, grandmothers and grandfathers to buy crappy Samsung smartphones to communicate with their families. Businesses let you book haircuts, dentist appointments and leg waxings via WhatsApp.

WhatsApp is huge. And now it has added an undelete option to erase messages even after you’ve sent them.

Messages can be deleted from chats with individuals, and from group chats. Once you have deleted it, the message is replaced with boilerplate text reading, “This message was deleted.” You will also receive a confirmation that the message was deleted for everyone.

7-minute time limit to delete WhatsApp messages

The time limit for deleting sent messages is seven minutes. After that, the message is only deleted from your view of the conversation, and remains in place for everyone else — just like in previous versions of WhatsApp. Undeleting also only works when the other parties in the conversation are using the latest version of the WhatsApp app.

To delete a message, just long-press on it until the little black popover bubble appears, then tap Delete. If you don’t see the option to delete, tap the right-arrow in the black popover bubble to get to its next “page,” and tap Delete there. You will see the following dialog box:

Choose whether to remove the message from your own phone, or to nuke it from everyone's phone.
Choose whether to remove the message from your own phone or to nuke it from everyone’s phone.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Tap “Delete for Everyone.” Then you’ll see this confirmation message:

This messages lets you know that you successfully deleted the message.
This messages lets you know that you successfully deleted the message.
Photo: Cult of Mac

That’s it. You’re done. Now, the only thing you have to do is come up with a plausible excuse as to why you deleted the message. It may help to pre-emptively nurture a reputation as a grammar snob right now, so when you do need to delete a message, you can blame it on having made a typo.

Telegram also lets you undelete

Telegram, another popular messaging app, has had undelete for a while. Telegram’s version works in a similar fashion, only you get a full 48 hours to remove your embarrassing/typo-laden communications.

When will you be able to delete iMessages?

Will iMessage ever let you unsend? Who knows. iMessage is an interesting service, though, because it is one of the places where Apple faces intense competition. WhatsApp is the leader across the world outside of the U.S. and China, so Apple is in a competitive race.

This is likely why the Messages app is getting such regular feature updates compared to other Apple apps — stickers, iMessage Apps, and soon message syncing and Apple Pay Cash.

Maybe it will also get message deletion, too. After all, Apple is big on privacy for its users. Fingers crossed, I guess.