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iPhone automatically deletes voice messages sent and received through iMessage within two minutes of sending one, and within two minutes of listening to one received from someone else.

How can I change the amount of time that iPhone and iOS will wait before deleting sent and received audio messages in Messages?

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Go to Settings app > Messages and scroll down to AUDIO MESSAGES and VIDEO MESSAGES Under each one, there is an option labeled Expire. Tap on it and then tap Never to prevent them from being deleted automatically.

Never or two minutes are your only options, though.

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  • This no longer seems to work in newer versions of iOS. See the comment thread on this question’s other answer. May 19 '20 at 1:41
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    @WilliamCline What exactly doesn't work about it? The setting is still available and "Never" or "After 2 minutes" are still the two and only options. The other answer and your comment are not a response to the question as asked by OP, nor are they relevant to whether my answer works or not.
    – tubedogg
    May 28 '20 at 0:04
  • You're right, sorry. I was conflating the original question with the different-but-related question answered by apple.stackexchange.com/a/226264 May 29 '20 at 18:24
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If you want to have recording outside of iMessage (i.e. as an mp3 or whatever), then press and hold the recording in iMessage. A menu will appear with Copy, Save, More.... Select Save and your recording will now be in the Voice Memos app. From there you can tap the share button to send as email attachment, or you can get it from iTunes when you connect your phone to a computer.

In iOS 13 and above, you can select “copy” from the context menu. Then go to the Files app, tap and hold on some blank area inside one of your folders, then tap “paste”. An audio file of the message will appear. (It looks like you have to do this after tapping “keep” in the iMessage thread).

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    This doesn't seem to work on iOS 12. The option is there but it doesn't appear in the Voice Memos app.
    – Leon
    Jan 4 '19 at 23:08
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    In iOS 13, you can select “copy” from the context menu. Then go to the Files app, tap and hold on some blank area inside one of your folders, then tap “paste”. An audio file of the message will appear. (It looks like you have to do this after tapping “keep” in the iMessage thread. May 19 '20 at 1:37

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