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How to Delete Messages on MacBook: 10 Best Ways

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Last updated: August 26, 2023

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We’ve all been there: a cluttered Messages app or an accidental text on our MacBook that needs urgent deleting. Often, people struggle with deleting messages due to various reasons—be it syncing complications, software quirks, or simply being unfamiliar with macOS nuances.

Luckily, the process to purge those unwanted texts is simpler than you might think. With the right guidance, you can regain control over your messaging environment in no time. So, let’s dive in as I unpack not one, but multiple easy-to-follow solutions to delete messages on MacBook and declutter your Messages app.

Before We Begin

If you’re running low on space or want to eliminate unnecessary files from your device, MacKeeper offers the perfect solution: Safe Cleanup. This feature is designed to declutter your Mac and enhance its performance. Give MacKeeper a try today and get your Mac running like new.

Declutter Your Mac With MacKeeper

Just as we spring clean our homes, it’s equally essential to declutter our digital space for optimized performance and mental clarity. Macs, known for their efficiency and reliability, are no exception. While there are many ways to clean up your Mac manually, tools like MacKeeper simplify the process, ensuring a streamlined and consistent experience.

Let’s see how MacKeeper can effortlessly declutter your Mac, making it run smoother while ensuring it’s free from redundant files and potential security threats.

  1. Download and install MacKeeper on your Mac.
  2. Once done, open MacKeeper and select Safe Cleanup in the left sidebar.
click safe cleanup under the cleaning section
  1. Click Start Scan.
click start scan in safe cleanup
  1. Select files from the scan results to remove unnecessary cache items from your system. You can also click the Check All checkbox.
select junk files to remove or click check all
  1. Click Clean Junk Files.
tap clean junk files
  1. You will receive confirmation that the cleaning process has been completed successfully. Click Rescan to scan your Mac again.
click rescan in safe cleanup

What Else Can MacKeeper Do?

Besides deleting junk files on your Mac, MacKeeper can help remove duplicate files, uninstall unwanted apps, and run a virus scan on your Mac to enhance its privacy and security. Check out my detailed MacKeeper review to learn more about its features.

Why Delete iMessage History on Mac?

There are several compelling reasons to delete iMessage history on your Mac. Here are some primary motivations to delete messages on MacBook:

  • 🔒 Privacy and Security: Protecting your personal and private conversations is one of the most pressing reasons. By deleting old messages, you ensure anyone who gains unauthorized access to your MacBook doesn’t stumble upon sensitive information or private chats.
  • 💾 Free Up Storage Space: Over time, if you’ve sent and received photos, videos, and other media, the Messages app can accumulate significant storage space. By clearing old threads, you can free up that much-needed space on your Mac.
  • 🧹 Organize and Declutter: Just like how a tidy room can bring peace of mind, a well-organized Messages app can lead to a more efficient digital workspace. Removing old and irrelevant conversations can help you quickly find the chats that matter.
  • 🚀 Performance Improvements: If your Messages app is full of years of conversations, it might become sluggish or occasionally crash. Periodic cleanups can enhance the app’s responsiveness and overall performance.
  • 🔕 Reduce Distractions: Old group chats or promotional messages that keep popping up can divert attention. By removing such conversations, you can reduce unnecessary distractions and notifications.
  • 🍃 Start Afresh: Sometimes, a chat history can be filled with memories or conversations you’d rather move on from. Deleting messages can be a digital way of turning over a new leaf.

How to Delete Messages on MacBook

Deleting messages on your MacBook can free up space, ensure privacy, and keep your Messages app organized. Whether you want to delete individual messages, entire conversations, or even your entire message history, the process is straightforward.

Below, I’ve shared the steps to delete messages on MacBook following different methods. So, let’s dive in.

How to Delete a Single Message on Mac

Sometimes, you may want to delete a single message on your Mac instead of removing an entire conversation. Follow these steps to delete a single message on Mac:

  1. Launch the Messages app by clicking the Messages icon in the Dock or find it using Spotlight.
click the messages app icon in the dock
  1. Navigate to the conversation containing the message you want to delete.
select the conversation you want to delete a message from
  1. Find the message you want to delete, right-click (or Control ^ – Click) it, and select Delete from the drop-down menu.
select delete from the context menu

How to Delete Multiple Messages from the Messages App

While the Messages app on Mac offers a seamless communication experience, there may be times when you need to clear out multiple messages. It’s a straightforward process and is particularly handy for organizing chats and preserving only the necessary ones.

Here’s how to delete multiple messages from the Messages app:

  1. Open the Messages app and navigate to the messages you wish to delete.
click the messages app icon in the dock
  1. Hold down the Command ⌘ key on your keyboard.
macbook pro command key
  1. While pressing the Command ⌘ key, click each message you want to delete. This will allow you to select multiple messages simultaneously.
select multiple chats in the messages app
  1. Once you’ve highlighted all the desired messages, right-click any one of them.
  2. From the context menu, select the Delete option.
right click the chats and select delete
  1. A prompt will appear asking if you’re sure about removing the selected messages.
  2. Click Delete to confirm the deletion to finalize the process.
click delete on the prompt to delete selected messages

Remember that once you’ve deleted these messages, they’re permanently gone from the Messages app on your Mac unless you have a backup. It’s always a good practice to ensure the selected messages are indeed ones you intend to remove before confirming their deletion.

How to Delete Messages on Your Mac Using Finder

The Finder in macOS is more than just a file browser; it’s a gateway to your computer’s organized data, including messages. Deleting multiple messages via Finder involves navigating to the specific folder where macOS stores your iMessage files.

However, just like working with Terminal, you should be cautious when making changes directly within the system and app folders to prevent unintended data loss.

Here’s how to delete multiple messages on Mac via Finder:

  1. As a precaution, back up your Messages data or entire Mac before proceeding. This ensures you can recover any accidental deletions.
  2. Ensure the Messages app is completely closed. Right-click its icon in the Dock and select Quit if it’s open.
right click the messages app in dock and select quit
  1. Click the Finder icon in the Dock to open it.
click finder in your dock
  1. With a Finder window open, click Go in the menu bar and hold down the Option ⌥ key. This will reveal the hidden Library option in the dropdown menu. Click on it.
click library under go in the context menu
  1. Navigate through the following path: Library > Messages.
open the messages folder in library
  1. In the Messages folder, you’ll primarily find files with the .db extension, such as chat.db, chat.db-wal, and chat.db-shm. These are databases containing your messages.
select messages databases for deletion
  1. If you want to delete all messages, you can delete or move these database files to the Bin. But remember: this will remove ALL your messages.
  2. If you’ve deleted any files, they’ll be moved to the Bin. Ensure you empty the Bin to finalize the deletion.
right click the bin and select empty bin

Proceed with caution when deleting or modifying files in the Library folder. These changes can be permanent, and you risk data loss without proper backups.

How to Delete Messages on Your Mac Using Terminal

The Terminal on macOS is a powerful tool that gives you direct access to the operating system’s underpinnings. However, deleting messages using Terminal on your Mac involves diving into system directories and modifying or deleting files.

So, I don’t recommend this method for novice users, as making unintended changes in Terminal can lead to system instability or loss of data. But, if you’re confident in using Terminal and have taken necessary precautions (like backing up your data), here’s how to delete messages on MacBook using Terminal:

  1. Before proceeding, ensure you’ve backed up your data, especially your Messages. Mistakes in the Terminal can result in irreversible data loss.
  2. Navigate to Applications > Utilities > Terminal, or use Spotlight (Command ⌘ + Spacebar) and type Terminal to find and open it.
type terminal in spotlight search
  1. In Terminal, type the following command and press Enter:
rm -r ~/Library/Messages/chat
type the messages command in terminal

This will permanently remove all Messages without the need to empty the Trash on Mac.

If the Messages app was open during this process, close and reopen it to see the changes.

Deleting these files will remove all your messages. If you only wanted to remove specific messages, you would need more advanced SQL commands to modify the chat.db file.

How to Delete a Conversation on Mac

Deleting an entire conversation on your Mac is a straightforward process and can be especially helpful if you want to declutter your Messages app or ensure some chats remain private.

Follow these steps to delete a conversation on your Mac:

  1. Click the Messages app icon in the Dock. If it’s not there, you can use Spotlight (Command ⌘ + Spacebar) and type Messages to find and open it.
click messages in spotlight search results
  1. On the left sidebar of the Messages app, you’ll see a list of your conversations. Locate the one you wish to delete and click to select it.
  2. Right-click (or Control ^ – click) the highlighted conversation in the sidebar and select Delete.
click delete in the context menu
  1. Alternatively, select the conversation you want to delete, click Conversation in the menu bar, and select Delete Conversation.
click conversation and select delete conversation
  1. Depending on your Mac’s settings, you might be prompted to confirm the deletion. If so, click Delete on the pop-up to confirm you want to delete the conversation.
click delete on the pop up

Once you’ve deleted a conversation, it’s removed from the Messages app on your Mac. However, it may still exist on other devices if you use iCloud to sync Messages.

How to Clear a Conversation on Mac

Clearing a conversation on your Mac removes the chat content while keeping the conversation thread intact. This can be useful if you wish to retain the convenience of an existing conversation without preserving the message history.

Here’s how to clear a conversation on your Mac:

This method only works on macOS versions older than Ventura.

  1. Locate and click the Messages app icon in the Dock.
click the messages app icon in the dock
  1. In the Messages app, you’ll find a list of all your conversations on the left sidebar. Click the specific conversation you wish to clear.
  2. With the conversation selected, navigate to the menu bar, click Edit, and select Clear Transcript from the menu.
  3. If prompted, ensure you’re ready to clear the conversation and proceed with the confirmation by clicking Clear.

Clearing a conversation removes the visible chat history from the Messages app on your Mac, but the conversation thread (the contact or group name) remains ready for new messages.

How to Automatically Delete Messages on Mac

If you prefer a self-maintaining digital space, the Messages app on Mac offers an automated housekeeping feature. Automatically deleting old messages can be an efficient way to manage storage and maintain privacy on your Mac.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on setting this up:

  1. Click the Messages app icon in your Dock to launch it.
click the messages app icon in the dock
  1. In the menu bar, click Messages and choose Settings from the context menu.
click messages and select settings
  1. A new window will pop up showing various settings for the Messages app. Click the General tab.
  2. Look for the section labeled Keep messages. By default, it’s set to Forever.
find keep messages option under the general tab
  1. Click the dropdown menu next to Keep messages and choose your preferred duration: 30 days, 1 year, or Forever.
set the messages duration in settings
  1. After selecting your desired duration, close the Settings window to apply the changes. Messages older than the specified duration will be automatically deleted depending on your selection.

Automatic deletion based on the duration you set applies to all messages in the Messages app on your Mac. Before enabling this feature, ensure there are no old messages you want to retain indefinitely.

How to Delete All Messages from iCloud

While an incredibly convenient service for Apple users, iCloud has limited storage, which can quickly get filled up with messages, especially if they contain media attachments. Deleting all messages from iCloud is essential to save iCloud storage space or ensure complete privacy across all Apple devices linked to the same iCloud account.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you clear out messages from iCloud:

  1. Before deleting anything, consider backing up any essential messages or threads you might want to reference later. This can be done using iCloud itself or iTunes on your computer.
  2. Click the Messages app icon in your Dock.
click the messages app icon in the dock
  1. In the menu bar, click Messages and select Settings.
click messages and select settings
  1. Go to the iMessage tab.
click imessage in messages settings
  1. Uncheck the box next to Enable Messages in iCloud. This action will stop messages from syncing between your Mac and iCloud momentarily.
uncheck enable messages in icloud
  1. Click Disable This Device on the prompt to disable messages in iCloud for your Mac.
click disable this device on the pop up
  1. Go back to the main Messages app window. Right-click a conversation you want to delete and select Delete.
click delete in the context menu
  1. Repeat this for all conversations.
  2. Remember, this step will remove these conversations from your Mac, but they might still reside on iCloud until the next sync.
  3. Head back to the iMessage tab in Settings within the Messages app.
  4. Check the box next to Enable Messages in iCloud. Now, when your Mac syncs with iCloud next, it will update iCloud to match the now-empty Messages app on your Mac, effectively deleting all messages from iCloud.
check enable messages in icloud

Proceed cautiously when deleting all messages, especially if they contain valuable or sentimental information. It’s always a good idea to back up significant data before making significant deletions.

How to Delete Attachments from Messages

While instant messaging has transformed communication, it often comes with a trail of shared images, videos, and documents. Attachments in the Messages app, like photos, videos, GIFs, and other media files, can take up significant storage space over time. Periodically deleting these attachments can free up storage and keep your device running smoothly.

Here’s how you can delete attachments from Messages:

  1. Click the Finder icon in the Dock to open it.
click finder in your dock
  1. With a Finder window open, press Command ⌘ + Shift ⇧ + G.
macbook pro command shift g keys
  1. In the window that appears, type the following and press Enter:
~/Library/Messages/Attachments
type library messages attachments path in go to window
  1. Delete all files and folders in the Attachments folder.
delete the files and folders attachments folder
  1. Don’t forget to empty the Bin after deleting the files from the Attachments folder.
right click the bin and select empty bin

How to Remove Messages From Mac but Not iPhone

If you want to remove messages from your Mac without affecting the messages on your iPhone, you need to make sure Messages in iCloud is disabled on your Mac. This ensures changes made on the Mac’s Messages app won’t sync across other devices linked to the same iCloud account.

Here are the steps to remove messages from Mac without affecting iPhone:

  1. Click the Messages app icon in your Dock.
click the messages app icon in the dock
  1. In the menu bar, click Messages and select Settings.
click messages and select settings
  1. Go to the iMessage tab.
click imessage in messages settings
  1. Uncheck the box next to Enable Messages in iCloud if it’s checked. This will stop messages from syncing between your Mac and other devices.
uncheck enable messages in icloud
  1. Click Disable This Device on the prompt to disable messages in iCloud for your Mac only.
click disable this device on the pop up
  1. After ensuring the Messages in iCloud option is turned off for the Mac, you can now safely delete messages or conversations.

It’s crucial to ensure the syncing feature is turned off when you delete messages to prevent them from being removed on your iPhone. Always double-check before proceeding with deletions.

Delete Messages on MacBook Like a Pro

Now that you know how to delete messages on your Mac, you may want to learn other ways to declutter your Mac and improve your focus and productivity.

Here are some tips for you:

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I delete all text messages at once on Mac?

    Yes, you can delete all text messages at once on Mac. To do that, select all conversations in the Messages app, right-click them, and select Delete. However, to erase every message simultaneously, you must navigate through individual conversations and delete them in succession. Always back up important messages before bulk deletions.

  2. What is the quickest way to delete messages on Mac?

    The quickest way to delete messages on a Mac is to open the Messages app, right-click a conversation in the left sidebar, and select Delete. Repeat for each conversation you wish to delete. For bulk message deletion, press Command ⌘, select multiple conversations, right-click, and choose Delete.

  3. How do I stop messages from going to iCloud?

    To stop messages from going to iCloud on a Mac, open the Messages app, click Messages in the menu bar, select Settings, go to the iMessage tab, and uncheck Enable Messages in iCloud. This prevents new messages from being stored in iCloud while retaining existing cloud-stored conversations.

  4. What if I’ve deleted a message but need to recover it later?

    If you’ve deleted a message but need to recover it later, a Time Machine backup is your best bet. A Time Machine backup in place prior to the message deletion can help you recover the deleted message. Otherwise, it’s typically irretrievable once a message is deleted, especially from iCloud.

Hashir Ibrahim

Author

I'm Hashir, a tech journalist with a decade of experience. My work has been featured in some of the top tech publications like MakeUseOf and MakeTechEasier. I have a bachelor's degree in IT, a master's in cybersecurity, and extensive knowledge of Apple hardware, specifically MacBooks. As the senior writer at MacBook Journal, I write in depth guides that help you solve any issues you have with your mac and unbiased reviews that help you make the right buying decisions.

Ojash

Reviewer

Hi there! I'm Ojash, a tech journalist with over a decade of experience in the industry. I've had the privilege of contributing to some of the world's largest tech publications, making my mark as a respected Mac expert. My passion lies in exploring, using, and writing about MacBooks, and I enjoy sharing my expertise to help others make informed decisions and get the most out of their MacBook experience. Join me as we delve into the fascinating world of MacBooks together!

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