How-To

How to Delete Messages on Mac

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Too many messages on your Mac to sort through? You’ll need to start deleting the messages that you don’t need to clear things out. Here’s how to delete messages on Mac.

Being able to write and respond to iMessages and SMS messages on your Mac is very useful—it’s much easier typing on a proper keyboard than it is on your iPhone. The trouble is that your Messages app can soon get filled with huge message chains, making it hard to keep track of or find the messages you’re looking for. Messages containing attachments can also start to clog up your storage.

If you want to declutter your Messages app, there are a number of different approaches you can use. Here’s how to delete messages on Mac.

How to Enable or Disable Messages in iCloud

Messages in iCloud is a setting that allows you to sync your Messages across all of your devices that are signed in to the same Apple ID. With this setting turned on, deleting Messages on your Mac will also delete them on all of your other devices.

If you want to delete the Messages on your Mac, but keep them on your other devices, you’ll need to disable Messages in iCloud.

To enable or disable Messages in iCloud:

  1. Launch the Messages app.
  2. In the menu bar, click Messages.
    mac messages menu
  3. Select Preferences.
    mac messages preferences
  4. Select the iMessage tab.
    mac imessage tab
  5. Check or uncheck Enable Messages in iCloud.
    mac message in cloud

How to Delete a Single Message on Mac

Now that you’ve ensured that the Messages app is configured correctly, you can start deleting messages. The method that you use will differ depending on whether you want to delete a single message, a conversation, or all of your Messages.

To delete a single message on Mac:

  1. Open the Messages app.
  2. Click on the conversation containing the message you want to delete.
    mac select messages conversation
  3. Right-click on the message in the conversation window.
    mac select message
  4. Select Delete.
    mac delete message
  5. Confirm your decision by clicking Delete.

How to Delete a Conversation on Mac

If you want to remove multiple messages, you can opt to delete an entire conversation. Keep in mind that if you choose this option, the conversation will disappear from the list of conversations on the left of the Messages app.

For example, if you delete a group conversation, you’ll have to start a new one by adding all of the participants.

To delete a conversation on Mac:

  1. Launch Messages.
  2. Right-click on the conversation that you want to delete.
    mac select messages conversation
  3. Select Delete Conversation.
    mac delete conversation
  4. Click Delete to confirm your decision.
    mac confirm delete conversation

How to Clear a Conversation on Mac

As mentioned above, deleting a conversation means that you’ll have to set up a new one again if you want to message the same people. It is possible to clear the contents of a conversation which allows you to type a new message to the same people in the now empty conversation.

To clear a conversion on Mac:

  1. Click on the conversation that you want to clear.
    mac select messages conversation
  2. In the menu bar, click Edit.
    mac messages edit
  3. Select Clear Transcript.
    mac delete transcript
  4. Click Clear to confirm your decision.
    mac clear conversation
  5. The messages in the conversation are deleted. You can now write a new message in the empty conversation.

How to Automatically Delete Messages on Mac

If constantly having to delete conversations seems a bit too much like hard work, you can opt to automatically delete messages after a set period of time.

The options are a little limited, but it’s possible to set messages to delete after a year, after 30 days, or to be kept forever.

To automatically delete messages on Mac:

  1. Open the Messages app.
  2. In the menu bar, click Messages.
    mac messages menu
  3. Select Preferences.
    mac messages preferences
  4. Under the General tab, click the Keep Messages drop-down box.
    mac keep messages
  5. Select 30 Days, One Year, or Forever.
    mac keep messages selection
  6. Your messages will now delete after the amount of time you have designated.

How to Delete All Messages on Mac

If you decide that you want to get rid of all of the messages on your Mac, you can delete each conversation in turn, but if you have a lot of messages, this can take some time. It is possible to delete all of your messages at once by deleting the folder where your message data is stored.

This method can be irreversible, so be sure you want to delete all messages before you do it. However, if you’ve turned off iCloud Messages on your Mac, but it’s enabled for your other iOS devices, you should be able to restore your iCloud messages to your Mac messages app by turning this setting back on by following the method listed at the start of the article.

To delete all of your messages using Finder:

  1. Launch Finder.
  2. In the menu bar, click Go.
    mac finder go
  3. Select Go to Folder.
    mac finder go to folder
  4. Type ~/Library/Messages into the search field and click Go.
    mac finder messages
  5. Right-click chat.db and select Move to Trash.
    mac messages chat db
  6. Repeat step 5 for chat.db-wal and chat.db-shm.
    mac messages chat files
  7. Open the Attachments folder and move all of the contents to the trash.
  8. Empty the trash and restart your Mac.
  9. Your Messages app should now be completely empty.

Declutter Your Mac

Learning how to delete messages on Mac can help you to declutter your computer and stop it from filling up with unnecessary messages. There are plenty of other ways to keep your Mac free from clutter, however.

For example, there are a number of ways to optimize and save space on your Mac. You can also delete apps that you’re not using to free up space, too. If you want to keep your deleted data safe, you’ll need to know how to securely wipe free space on your Mac.

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