How to Delete Messages on MacBook Pro [Step-by-Step] 2022

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If you own a MacBook Pro and an iPhone, you probably have your devices synched together. This means you can conveniently receive and send text messages (and iMessages) from either device. 

But what if you want to delete messages on your MacBook Pro? You can quickly delete messages on your Macbook Pro by right-clicking the message or conversation and selecting “delete.” You can also delete them through Finder and Terminal. 

I’m Jon, a Mac user extraordinaire, owner of a 2019 MacBook Pro, and your guide today on deleting messages on your Mac. 

I put together this detailed article on deleting messages from your Macbook Pro, so keep reading to learn how!

How to Delete a Single Message

If you need to delete specific, singular messages, follow these steps. 

Step 1: Open the Messages app on your Mac by clicking on the “Messages” app on your Dock or Launchpad.

Step 2: Select the conversation containing the message you want to delete in the left pane of the messages window.

Step 3: Delete a single message by right-clicking the message (texts, photos, videos, files, audio messages, emojis, or web links) and selecting “Delete.” 

Step 4: Delete all of the messages within a particular conversation by choosing Edit > Clear Transcript. This removes all content from the transcript but leaves the conversation in the left pane.

How to Delete an Entire Conversation

Over time, conversations and messages pile up, cluttering your inbox. So, you may need to delete entire conversations from time to time. Before you start deleting conversations, note you won’t be able to recover deleted conversations.

  1. Open the Messages app on your Mac. 
  2. Find the conversation you want to delete. 
  3. To delete a conversation, select the specific conversation. Then choose File > Delete Conversation. 

Or, use your trackpad or Magic Mouse to swipe left with two fingers while hovering your mouse pointer on the conversation in the sidebar. Click the Delete trash icon (in red) once it appears.

You will be asked for confirmation to delete the conversation with either method. Select “Delete” again to remove the conversation. 

Note that if you use Messages in iCloud and delete a conversation on your Mac, you delete it from all connected devices where Messages in iCloud is on. 

How to Set a Timeframe for Keeping Messages

If you want to save hard drive space, it may make more sense to set how long you want to keep messages. By changing these settings, you tell your Mac to delete conversations, including all attachments, after the set time elapses. 

So, if you select any option other than Forever, your Mac deletes your conversations automatically after the specified time passes. Follow these steps to update the settings:

Step 1: Open the Messages app on your Macbook Pro. Choose Messages in the top left of your screen, then select Preferences.

Step 2: In the Preferences window, click General.

Step 3: Find and open the “Keep messages” pop-up menu.

Step 4: Click the available option (Forever, One Year, or 30 Days) that matches your preferred timeframe. 

How to Disable iCloud Messages

While the sync feature that sends all messages from your iPhone to your Mac is excellent, it can sometimes be a nuisance. To stop messages from coming to your Mac, simply follow these steps:

  1. Open the Messages app on your Mac. 
  2. Click on Messages in the upper left corner of the screen. 
  3. Click on Preferences, then select the iMessage tab. 
  4. Select “iMessages” near the top of the window.
  5. On the left side of the screen, uncheck the box next to Enable Messages in iCloud. 

Changing this setting prevents messages from coming to your Mac, leaving it free of the conversations from your iPhone. 

Unfortunately, you’ll still have to sift through old messages on your Mac and delete those, as changing the setting won’t affect messages already stored on your Macbook Pro.

How to Permanently Delete All Messages 

If you want to permanently get rid of all the messages on your Mac once and for all, follow these steps:

Step 1: Press Command + Shift + G. The Go To Folder window will pop up. It should say Finder at the top of the window. If it doesn’t, click on your desktop before continuing.

Step 2: Type in ~/Library/Messages, then press return.

Step 3: Select the following files once the window pops up, including “chat.db,” “chat.db-wal,” “chat/db-shm,” and any other files you find there.

Step 4: Drag the selected files to the Trash folder or right-click and select “Move to Trash.”

Step 5: Empty the Trash folder.

Open iMessage and check for leftover messages. This process won’t delete any attachments from the conversations, only the messages themselves. If you want to delete the attachments as well, perform these steps:

  1. Close the iMessage app. 
  2. Press Command + Shift + G, which will open the Go To Folder window. 
  3. In the Go To Folder window, type in ~/Library/Messages/Attachments, then press return
  4. Select any files you want to delete in the window that opens, including text, music files, videos, archives, etc. 
  5. Drag the selected files to the Trash folder or right-click and select “Move to Trash.”
  6. Empty the Trash folder.

How to Remove All iMessages via Terminal

If you’d prefer not to select each file to delete manually, you could use the terminal to empty a folder completely. All you’ll need to do is run a simple command line.

Step 1: Open the terminal by going to Launchpad, then typing “terminal” in the search. 

Step 2: Enter “rm -r ~/Library/Messages/chat.*”

Step 3: To delete attachments, enter this command “rm -r ~/Library/Messages/Attachments/??”

This removes all iMessages permanently, allowing you to skip manually selecting files and emptying the trash folder. 

Remember, these command lines result in permanent action. So, you can’t recover any deleted material unless you performed backups before deleting these files. 

Conclusion

If you own multiple Apple devices, you probably are familiar with the sync that backs up iMessages to your connected devices. 

This can be a blessing and a curse, as it’s excellent for times when you accidentally delete messages off one device but not so wonderful when you try to delete messages entirely. 

Luckily, you can quickly delete iMessages from your MacBook Pro with just a few clicks. All you have to do is find the conversation or messages, right-click it, and select “delete.” Alternatively, you can delete the messages folder in Finder or terminal with a command.  

Were you able to delete the messages you wanted to on your MacBook Pro? Let us know if you run into any issues in the comments below!

About Jonathon Jachura
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Jonathon is a mechanical engineer with over ten years of experience. He is an Apple fan who currently holds a Macbook Pro (512 GB, 16GB RAM), iPad Pro 12.9", iPhone 11 Pro Max, Apple Watch 3, and 4x Acer 23" monitors.

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