Clean Out All Your Old Text Messages on iOS and Android

Illustration for article titled Clean Out All Your Old Text Messages on iOS and Android

Those long-winded SMS/iMessage/Hangouts conversations filled with emoticons and pictures and GIFs aren't doing the storage space on your smartphone any favors. And the clutter in your messaging app isn't too much fun either. Fortunately, you can get your iOS or Android-powered mobile to erase older messages automatically. Here are the settings to use if you can live without your text history.

Before you get started you might want to review some of the most important conversations in your messaging app to make sure there's nothing you want to keep hold of. Any declarations of true love? Or, more likely, important addresses that you haven't written down yet? If you're looking for something that can back up your messages somewhere else, there are a few options to pick from.

After that it's deletion time. In iOS, open the Settings app then tap Messages and Keep Messages to choose from 30 days, one year or forever. This is a new feature introduced with iOS 8 and can be particularly helpful if you've activated iMessage, complete with its more advanced media capabilities. Any messages older than the stated timeframe are purged, no questions asked.


Over on Hangouts in Android, head to the Settings screen and choose SMS. Check the box marked Delete old messages and the app automatically clears out the oldest texts when necessary; there's no option to set a limit as there was in earlier versions of the default Android texting app, and there's no such option in the new Messenger tool from Google (somewhat strangely). You just sort of have to trust it. Of course, as this is Android so you can install another, more feature-rich SMS app if you want to take more control over how older messages are handled if you really, really want to.

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Benny Gesserit

If you're worried about losing important ones- or just a message hoarder - there are a few IFFFT recipes for copying incoming and outgoing SMS message to a google drive sheet. I use the Android ones but I'm betting there's something similar for iOS.