How to copy an SMS, MMS or iMessage on your iPhone and iPad

Learn how to copy SMS texts, MMS messages or iMessages from Apple’s Messages app on iPhone and paste the whole message or some text into another app.

A still image taken from iDownloadBlog's video about 10 hidden iPhone 13 features, with host Harris Craycraft showing a blue iPhone 13 Pro Max in his hand to the camera

How to copy SMS, MMS and iMessages from iPhone

On older iOS editions, you could easily copy any SMS, MMS or iMessage received through Apple’s stock Messages app by tapping inside its chat bubble. Since iOS 10, the process has changed quite a bit because touching a chat bubble now brings up a Tapback menu with message reactions.

But don’t worry, you can still copy text messages. In fact, you have three ways to do so.

  1. Firstly, you can copy the whole chat bubble, then paste it into another app where you can edit it to keep only parts of text you need
  2. Secondly, you can use the forwarding option to select a custom part for pasting
  3. And thirdly, you can use the power of Apple’s deep neural network and Live Text as a shortcut to select any text from a screenshotted message

Follow along for step-by-step instructions detailing how to use all three methods to easily copy text messages from the Messages app on your iPhone.

How to copy the entire Messages chat bubble

To copy the contents of a whole SMS text, MMS message or iMessage, touch and hold a chat bubble in the Messages app to choose the Copy command from the popup menu.

  1. Open the Messages on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Touch a conversation in your message list.
  3. Touch and hold the chat bubble you’d like to copy.
  4. Choose “Copy” from the popup menu at the bottom.
  5. Select “Paste” in another app like Mail or Notes.
copied text message iphone
The copied text can be easily edited

With the copied message pasted into the app of your choosing, you can simply use touch gestures to edit it like you normally would any other pasted text.

How to copy parts of the Messages chat bubble

You cannot directly copy a custom part of the Messages chat bubble. Instead, use the forward command to create a new message from the selected text, which you can edit.

  1. Open Messages on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Choose a chat from the conversation list.
  3. Touch and hold the message bubble.
  4. Choose “More” from the popup menu.
  5. Hit the Forward button (it looks like a curved arrow) in the lower-right corner.
  6. A new conversation is created, pre-filled with the forwarded message. Hit the text entry field and use the multitasking gestures to edit unwanted text out.
  7. Touch and hold inside the text field, then choose “Select All” from the menu.
  8. Repeat the process, only now choose the “Copy” command from the menu.
  9. Hit “Cancel” to quit the New Message screen without forwarding the message.
  10. Your edited text is sitting on the system clipboard, ready to be pasted. Now launch another app, like Notes or Mail, then paste the edited message from the clipboard into it.
copy text messages from iphone
Use the Forward option to select parts of a message

Selecting more than one text at a time will merge them into a single conversation upon tapping the Forward option. This is great for those times when you need to copy long threads that appear one after the other without indicating whom they were sent by or when.

copy text messages iphone

How to copy the Messages chat bubble with Live Text

Starting with iOS 12 and iPadOS 12, you can use the power of machine learning and Apple’s Live Text feature to pull a custom text selection from a screenshotted message.

  1. Open Messages on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Choose a chat from the conversation list.
  3. Make a screenshot of the Messages conversation.
  4. With the screenshot taken, open the Photos app.
  5. Open the screenshot you just took.
  6. Touch and hold a word in the chat bubble, then move the grab points to adjust your selection.
  7. Hit “Copy” to copy the selected text in the clipboard.
  8. Switch to another app to paste the edited text from the clipboard.

The same Live Text trick can be used to copy text from a Messages notification.

An iPhone showing a screenshot of a Messages chat bubble with Live Text used to copy a custom part of the message
Using Live Text to pull a custom selection from a Messages text

And that’s how you can copy an SMS, MMS or iMessage from Apple’s Messages app, whether you need to copy the whole message or just parts of the text.