iOS 16: How to Unsend and Edit Text Messages on Your iPhone

A recalled message on an iPhone
Successfully unsending a text in iOS 16 will give you a confirmation in place of your rescinded message.
Apple/Screenshot by James Martin/CNET

This story is part of Focal Point iPhone 2022, CNET’s collection of news, tips and advice around Apple’s most popular product.

iOS 16 is out, and you can download it right now, which means that you can finally use one of the more anticipated features — the ability to unsend and edit text messages on the iPhone.

If you make a grammatical mistake or even text the wrong person, you now have 15 minutes to edit what your message says and two minutes to unsend it, essentially deleting the text. Want to know more about how the new iOS 16 feature works? We’ll explain it all below.

CNET Tech Tips logoIf you haven’t updated to iOS 16 yet, here’s how to download and install it on your iPhone and iPad. Other new features on iPhone include new lock screen customization options and Lockdown Mode.

Edit messages you’ve already sent

If you use messaging tools like Slack, you’ve likely edited at least one — or 100 — of the messages you’ve sent. Whether you made a typo or your message contains incorrect data, the editing feature is a nice way to make your corrections quickly. With iOS 16, you’ll also be able to edit your messages sent from your iPhone within 15 minutes of sending.

To edit a text message, you’ll need to launch Messages and go into any thread that is using iMessage, which you probably know as blue text. This feature will not work with SMS text messages (green texts). Now, press and hold your finger down on the message you wish to edit. This will bring up the Tapback reactions and the quick action menu. Finally, tap Edit.

Editing a text message on iOS 16
Even if you edit a text message, the recipient will still be able to see any old messages.Nelson Aguilar/CNET

The text message will then become editable. You can delete the entire message, fix any mistakes or add more text to it. Once you’re finished, hit the blue checkmark button on the right side to save your edits. You can only edit a single message up to 5 times.

An actionable Edited button will appear underneath your edited text message. The person on the other end will also know that the message has been edited, and if they tap on Edited, all previous versions of your text message will appear above the edited text message, in slightly grayed-out chat bubbles.

Immediately recall any messages you accidentally sent

Accidental messages happen way too often. Maybe you tapped the send button when you meant to select an emoji. Or perhaps you messaged the wrong person entirely. In either case, you’ll be able to recall those messages with iOS 16. Unlike with the edit message feature, you only have 2 minutes to unsend a text.

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