There are many reports that the previous versions of the iOS Messages app did not properly free up space when conversations were deleted and every subsequent restore from backup carries this "dead space" over. And, since they are deleted, there is no way to regain that space because there are no UI elements for those conversations.

For example, my Messages is using up nearly 2 GB of data, but when I examine my conversations and their attachments, they don't add up to anywhere near 2 GB.

How can I regain this dead space?

... given these constraints:

  1. Retaining some of my conversations (i.e. the ones that I haven't deleted).
  2. Retaining those conversations in the Messages app.
  3. Not jailbreaking my device.

Update: Apparently at least one person was confused as to what I'm asking, so hopefully this will clear it up: I have 3 (for example) conversations in Messages that I want to keep (history, attachments, and all). Those 3 take up around 100 MB of space on my iPhone. However, when I go into my iPhone's usage page, I see that Messages takes up 2 GB of space! I'm running low on disk space, so I want to get back 1.9 GB of space (2 GB - 100 MB). I tried deleting every conversation in Messages except those 3 that I want to keep. I then restarted and examined the usage again, and Messages still reports as taking up nearly 2 GB of space! The only explanation is that there is "dead space" on my phone: space that my iPhone is consuming for things I can't even see. How can I free up this dead space? I can't use the solutions from the linked MacRumors threads because they either (1) delete all conversations from the Messages app--remember, I want to keep 3 conversations; or (2) involve exporting the messages to a different app/pdf--I want to have access to my conversation history in the native Messages app.

For reference, the solutions from the MacRumors threads seem to fall into these categories:

1 Answer 1


There may be a "bug" in IOS that hangs onto old messages or attachments even after a message or thread is deleted. The discussions you link to on macrumors.com seems to indicate that.

That said, if I have a lot of space being taken up for no apparent reason I find the best way to fix it is as follows.

  1. Back up your phone, Apps and all to your computer (encrypt the backup, it makes restoring easier)
  2. On your iPhone fo to Settings > general > reset and tap on erase all contents and settings
  3. Once the phone has been wiped, restore it using the backup you just made.

No guarantees that this will do the trick but it has successfully worked for other apps for me in the past. It would be interesting to know if it fixed the issue for you as well.

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