How to bulk delete attachments from the iOS Messages app

By , Jan 26, 2016

Messages App Icon

Apple’s Messages app for iOS is capable of not only sending and receiving texts in the form of iMessages or SMS, but it can also send and receive files, which are known as attachments.

Over time, attachments add up, taking up valuable storage space on your device and keeping a paper trail of everything you’ve sent and received to one another.

In this tutorial, we’ll show you how you can easily bulk delete attachments from a conversation in the Messages app without deleting the entire conversation.

Why to bulk delete attachments from the Messages app

The main reasons you’d want to bulk delete attachments from the Messages app are to conserve storage space and delete a paper trail of all the files you’ve sent and received.

Assuming you’ve already saved the files you’ve been sent, you would no longer need to keep them in your Messages app’s attachment archive because then it’s just wasting space by keeping doubles of what you already have. By removing unwanted attachment files from the Messages app, you’ll free up some of that space and have more to dedicate to apps, music, videos, and more.

Alternatively, if you don’t want someone else who may know your passcode to see what attachments you’ve been sending and receiving in the Messages app, you might consider removing them from the conversation so that they can’t be browsed through, protecting your privacy in the process.

How to do it

If you’ve made it this far, then you probably have a reason to bulk delete attachments in the Messages app; to do just that, follow these simple steps:

Step 1: Launch the Messages app and open a conversation that has attachments you want to get rid of.

Step 2: Tap on the blue “Details” button at the top right of the app.

bulk delete messages attachments details

Step 3: In the new interface that appears, scroll down and then tap and hold on one of the attachments in the grid view to reveal an Action Menu.

Step 4: Tap on the “More…” button to select the attachment you were just tapping and holding on.

bulk delete messages attachments steps 2

Step 5: A blue check mark will appear, and so will several empty circles on the rest of the attachments; tap on each of the attachments you wish to delete to select them and this will put a blue check mark on those attachments as well.

Step 6: Once all of the attachments you want to delete have been selected, tap on the blue trash can icon at the bottom right of the app.

Step 7: In the pop-up menu that appears, tap on the red “Delete … Attachments” button to confirm deletion of your selected attachments from your conversation.

Step 8: All those attachments will now be removed from the conversation, but your conversation itself will remain; double-check the conversation to verify.

bulk delete messages attachments result

What about my other devices?

Something to keep in mind about this process is it will only delete your attachments from the device you’re on at the time you delete them.

Since iCloud is keeping all your devices up to date in terms of your iMessages conversations (and even SMS if you have Text Message Forwarding enabled), any other devices tied to your iCloud account are still going to have those attachments available in your Messages app history even when you remove them from one of your devices.

What this means is you’ll need to go into each of those devices individually, whether they’re an iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, or Mac, and you’ll have to repeat this process on each of those devices that you don’t want your attachment history being accessed on.

What about iOS 9’s message expiration feature?

iOS 9 comes with a feature that lets you configure text messages, audio messages, and even video messages to expire and auto-delete after a period of time. In this case, you’re actually deleting all of your messages along with your attachments, and it’s an ineffective method for anyone that wants to keep their conversation history while only removing attachments.

Conclusion

Actively removing unwanted attachments from conversations in the Messages app is a great way to free up storage space and protect your privacy, so if you don’t already do this, you may consider practicing this method more often to reap the benefits.

If you found this tutorial helpful or have any questions, drop us a comment below!

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