A simple way to save text messages on your iPhone, and save space, too!

HiTechMomMaster Your Gadgets

Save your messages to make more room on your phone

This is the third post in a series of articles that will show you how to recover more space (which some refer to as memory) on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. If you haven’t read part one, be sure to start here.

First, take a look at your settings

The iMessage app can use up a lot of space on your iPhone or iPad. Go to Settings > General > Usage > Manage Storage to see how big your iMessage app is. You may be surprised.

iMessage storage space on iPhone - manage storage

Yo iMessage is so fat…

Why does iMessage use so much storage space? Because all the photos and videos that you send and receive remain in the iMessage app until you delete them.

It’s kind of like if you ate a bunch of cookies and then never pooped. Eventually, you’d be bloated like a toad and you’d run out of space in your belly for cookies! What do you do? You get rid of those cookies so people can give you more cookies!

cookie monster too many cookies

Too many messages is like too many cookies. Image credit sulab.org

The iMessage app becomes more bloated with every multimedia message you send and receive. Before you know it, it’s taking up too much space on your iPhone! So what do you do if that happens? Follow these 3 steps to SAVE the good stuff and then DELETE what you don’t need and MANAGE your settings for the future.

1. Save any conversations that you want to keep

Obviously, to reclaim more space on your iPad or iPhone, you’re going to need to delete some things. If the thought of deleting your conversations or photos terrifies you, never fear. There are ways to save these messages first!

Screen shots:

The old-school way to save iMessages is to take screen shots of every conversation and then move them off of your iPhone or iPad.

You take a screen shot (a photo of what’s on your screen) by pressing down the power button and the home button at the same time. The photo will save to your photos app.

This method is time-consuming. You have to take a screen shot of small segments of each conversation. It’s not perfect. It only saves the tiny thumbnails of photos and videos. However, it’s good if you just want to quickly and easily capture a small portion of a conversation to save.

After you do take screen shots, don’t just leave those screen shots in your camera roll. The photo of your conversation is going to take up more space than the conversation itself. Upload those screen shots to a cloud app such as Dropbox or Flickr or transfer them to your computer. Then, delete them from your phone.  (Click here to learn how to do that)

Use PhoneView:

PhoneView-showing messages on iPhone through the computer

Use PhoneView to backup messages on your iPhone or iPad to your computer (Mac)



PhoneView is a better way to save an iMessage conversation. This program allows you to save entire text conversations to your computer. To use it, you first download it to your Mac. Then, you plug your iPhone or iPad in with the USB cable and PhoneView accesses your data.  You will then see your text messages on your computer screen. With a click of a button, you can transfer those text messages to your computer. The program saves your text messages as PDF files. You can also save photos and videos from these conversations into their own folder.

With your text messages on your computer, you can open them and read them at any time. If you want to be able to see them on your iPhone, save them to a cloud service like Dropbox or Evernote.

I have been using PhoneView since 2011. I purchased it because I wanted a way to save the early text messages between my husband and I. It’s since become one of the most essential programs on my computer. I have not run across a program that makes it easier to save things from an iPhone. It will also save voicemails, data from apps, music, contacts, and much more. It also works on iPads. Click here to download and try PhoneView.

(If you use a PC, there are programs for you that will perform the same function. I do not have enough experience with any of them to recommend them, but you can find them in a google search if you are interested)


Once you’ve used PhoneView or taken screen shots of your important conversations, you can go to town on your iMessage app and start deleting things!

Save iMessages and Delete all the messages!

Once you’ve saved your important messages to your computer, it’s time to go crazy!


Delete entire conversations that you no longer care about keeping

  • Open iMessage and see if there are any conversations that you don’t care to keep.
  • When you find one that you want to delete, swipe across from right to left
  • Touch delete
swipe left to delete messages on your iPhone or iPad

swipe across from right to left and then touch delete


If you find several conversations that you want to delete at one time:

  1. Touch the edit button
  2. Touch each conversation that you want to delete
  3. Touch the trash can at the bottom
touch the edit button to delete multiple text message conversations at one time

Touch the “Edit” button at the top left corner

Touch each message that you want to delete and then touch "Delete" at the bottom

Touch each message that you want to delete and then touch “Delete” at the bottom

Quickly delete individual photos and videos from a conversation

Did you know that you can purge the photos and videos from a conversation, but keep the text? There’s a sweet, ninja way to do it this you may not have noticed before.

Touch a conversation and then touch “Details” at the top right.


Inside of a conversation, touch the “Details” button at the top right


Scroll down a bit and you’ll see all of the photos and videos from that conversation. Hold down on one of the photos for a second. A menu will pop up and allow you to delete the photo.

hold picture to delete photos from messages on iPhone

In here, you can see all of the photos and videos that you’ve sent to that person. Hold down on a photo for options.



Touch “More…” and you can select several photos or videos at once and then delete them (or save them to your camera roll).

checkboxes appear to select multiple photos and videos save or delete

Selecting the “More…” option shown in the previous photo allows you select multiple messages to delete at one time


3. Manage your iMessage settings for the future

Finally, if you want to keep iMessage from getting bloated again, you can adjust your settings. Go to Settings > Messages > scroll down to Message History and choose how long you want your iPhone or iPad to keep your messages.

Go to settings - messages - message history

Decide how long you want your phone to keep your text message history.


Personally, I keep my setting on “forever” so I can decide when I’m ready to delete things. However, if letting your iPhone or iPad manage your message history sounds OK to you, you may want to set a time limit.

I hope you’ve found these tips to be helpful. Give PhoneView a try and let me know what you think! Do you have any other tips for keeping your iMessage app clean? If so, leave them in the comments below.


Click here to view Part 2: Making Space for Photos and Videos

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