Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Deleting Messages Attachments Everywhere

Ryan Jones:

Deleting any iMessage media from your device storage (i.e. Mac or iPhone) also deletes it from the cloud forever.

Even when:

  • Messages in the Cloud is On
  • Keep Messages is Forever
  • You’re in local storage management

Apple you gotta clarify these message boxes big time!

The other parts of System Settings ‣ General ‣ Storage are about freeing up local storage on your Mac, so you might think that deleting messages attachments would only delete them locally. This would be really useful because there’s no other obvious way of purging the device’s cache to free up space. The confirmation sheet reinforces this belief by showing an icon of a hard drive and telling you how much storage will be freed. Instead, what you’d think would just evict the files actually deletes them from the cloud and all devices.

This is not the first confusion of this kind: the Keep messages setting in Messages also looks like it might refer to the device, but it actually deletes the messages everywhere. You can have one device set to keep Forever, but it will not actually do that if another device is set to a shorter amount of time.


Update (2024-07-04): John Gordon:

I’ve been playing with deleting individual messages in iMessage and seeing what happens on different clients. Wow. It’s kind of a mess. Definitely don’t assume a particular message is always deleted across all devices -- even if’s reported deleted everywhere.

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I turned my down to yearly. I took two days for it to finally take effect on my Mac, but on my iPhone it still hasn't taken effect and it doesn't delete the Recent Deleted.

Not sure how Apple works it for iOS compared to macOS.

Yet another reason, besides the wish to keep some messages on only one device, to turn message synching off in icloud.

Yet another reason to get off the fucking cloud altogether. And more motivation to get ween oneself off of Apple hardware for daily driver devices (there is still a good case to use Apple hardware for production purposes though). These "experiences" are increasingly broken and wholly dependent on an internet connection to function properly.

I prefer to hoard my iMessages only on my stationary Mac. All other devices will delete messages in chats after one year. This set-up is much saner in my opinion.

One thing I miss though is an easy way to back up and restore the messages db on macOS. Contacts and Calendar app have this functionality. I never understood why Messages does not.

@Dan: Not exactly what you're looking for, but Christopher Sardegna's imessage-exporter ( might come in handy:

* Save, export, backup, and archive iMessage data to open, portable formats

* Preserve multimedia content (images, videos, audio) from conversations

* Facilitate easy migration of message history between devices and platforms

* Run diagnostics on the iMessage database

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