Oops, I did it again. Accidentally sending the wrong person a text message can be annoying at the least and embarrassing or relationship-ending at the worst. Many texting apps already have a feature to undo a misdirected message. This capability is finally coming to Apple’s Messages (formerly iMessage) in the upcoming release of iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and macOS Ventura.
The most recent iOS 16 beta build has a feature in Messages that allows users to undo or edit sent messages. It could be handy in cases where you accidentally send a text to your mom that you meant for your wife and in other situations where you don’t want to feel stupid by replying, “Sorry. That wasn’t meant for you.”
Unfortunately, the feature only works if the recipient also runs the most up-to-date Apple operating system. So no undoing messages to Android users or people with older iPhones, iPads, or Macs. The feature has a few other limits as well.
The Messages app gives you two minutes to delete a missent text. According to beta testers speaking with 9to5Mac, the previous beta builds gave users 15 minutes to undo a message. The same 15-minute window remains for edits. However, instead of unlimited editing, now users can only edit a message five times.
Although Apple has not commented on these changes, they are likely related to criticisms raised by victim advocates saying that allowing too much delete time and unlimited editing allows predators and stalkers more opportunity to alter evidence of their harassment.
* Edit any message you just sent
* Undo Send to immediately recall texts
* Mark any thread as unread pic.twitter.com/pHtPN6hTUP
— The Recount (@therecount) June 6, 2022
Another limitation is that any edits made to a message are viewable by the recipient. That way, a creep can’t send a text saying, “I’m going to kill you,” then change it 10 minutes later to “Have a nice day” without leaving a trace of the assault.
Controls for the new Messages features are reasonably intuitive and straightforward.
To unsend a text, long-press on the message you want to delete. In the resulting contextual menu, tap “Undo Send,” and it disappears from your and the recipient’s message history. The Undo option disappears from the menu after two minutes have elapsed.
To edit a message, follow the long-press by taping “Edit” in the context menu. Make the changes, then tap the checkmark icon on the right side of the message. If you decide not to make the edit, tap the x icon on the left side. After fifteen minutes or the fifth edit, the option disappears from the menu.
The resulting edited text will appear in your and the recipient’s chat history with a small “Show Edits” notation under the message. Tapping that note will show previous edits in chronological order, reading down to the most current. The final revision will display in regular iMessage blue, and the older changes will be light blue. Either user can collapse the edits by tapping the notation again, which now reads “Hide Edits.”
Apple’s newest operating systems across all its platforms should roll out sometime this fall when it unveils the latest iPhones, iPads, and Macs. You can try it now if you sign up to receive betas, but unless you have a contact that also has the beta, don’t expect it to work correctly.