How to delete saved messages and attachments on iPhone

iPhone messages

As someone who writes about mobile technology, friends often ask me how to do some things on their phones. The fact that I don’t have an iPhone hasn’t prevented anyone from keep asking how to get some things done on Apple’s handset.

Recently, I was asked is it possible to mass-delete saved messages and attachments on the iPhone. That sounds easy, right? But it really isn’t. The iPhone keeps piling up messages until few gigabytes of internal storage are occupied. If you have a 16GB variant, you don’t want to store all of these messages.

There’s the “message by message” way to do this, and way more efficient mass deletion path, which unfortunately isn’t as seamless as it should be. While searching for the solution, I’ve found two different methods at Apple forums to delete messages in bulk:

Method 1

This method requires iBackupBot software, which is an iTunes Backup Manager for iDevices. Once you install it on your PC or Mac, you should do the following:

  1. Make a backup in iTunes
  2. Open iBackupBot and go to the relevant (latest) backup
  3. Click on Multimedia File Manager and click on the other Multimedia files tab
  4. Sort by filename (click on the Filename tab) and find “MediaDomain/Library/SMS/Attachments”
  5. Highlight all of them and then press delete. You can export this data to a folder of your choice.
  6. Then go to System Files -> MediaDomain -> Library -> SMS -> Attachments
  7. Again, highlight them all and press delete
  8. Now restore the latest backup using iTunes

Voila, the messages are gone and the space has been recovered. Actually, this will just delete the attachments (share photos) but you can accomplish the same thing for all messages if you fancy so.

Method 2

This route uses Apple’s iCloud service and can thus be more suitable for folks who don’t feel comfortable with using third-party (as in non-Apple) software.

  1. Backup your device in iTunes and then to iCloud
  2. Go to Settings -> iCloud and toggle “Documents & Data” to OFF
  3. Again backup your phone/tablet to iTunes and iCloud
  4. Then restore the device from iCloud

The message attachments are gone now. You can turn “Documents & Data” back on in the settings.

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