I recently went through my Messages on my iPhone and deleted most photos/videos after backing them up separately. I got my Messages storage down to about 300 MB of space on my phone. However, in my iCloud storage, the Messages still take up 1.5 GB. Looking at the messages from which I deleted them, the photos/videos show up as a button that says "Tap to Download". So it seems that even though I've deleted them from the messages, they're still stored in iCloud with the Message. How can I fully delete the attachments from iCloud?

To be clear, I don't want to turn off storing Messages in iCloud; I still want my Messages there, I just don't want these photos/videos that I've deleted to be there anymore. Is there a way to actually delete them from iCloud? I have tried turning Message syncing off and then back on again, but as soon as I turn it back on, the 1.5 GB shows back up.

I feel like I've scoured the internet with no clear answer on this.

  • I assume you deleted them from your phone storage page? I'm guessing you have to delete them directly in iMessage to trigger a full deletion.
    – Ezekiel
    Oct 13, 2022 at 16:13
  • @Ezekiel I used the phone storage page to find the largest messages, but that takes me over to the message itself. From there, I went to the info page of the message where it lists all the photos/links/etc that are in that message, and deleted them from that page. So I deleted the attachment to the message, not the individual message itself.
    – GendoIkari
    Oct 13, 2022 at 16:15
  • Also, I just tried deleting the actual message and not just the photo on the message. Shortly after it synced with iCloud and downloaded the message from iCloud again!
    – GendoIkari
    Oct 13, 2022 at 17:46
  • Hmm, interesting. Unfortunately I don't have any help beyond that
    – Ezekiel
    Oct 14, 2022 at 14:07

4 Answers 4


Apple want you to buy and continue to upgrade your iCloud storage plan. So it's not possible to delete Messages photo's + attachments etc. At best you have to play a game of wack-a-mole. I've had photos that were deleted years in the past reappear. The only time that Apple's deliberate inability to delete what you've asked to be deleted is helpful is when you accidentally delete a message thread. You can usually restore everything.

  • 2
    Nobody including Apple badged employees can ultimately speak to Apple’s motivations. This is especially in the context of this answer given that Apple gives instructions on how to manage iCloud storage including steps to delete Attachments from iMessage.
    – Allan
    Apr 11, 2023 at 2:05
  • False claim about instructions. Those steps in Allen’s answer don’t work for what’s being asked for. They can be used to delete attachments from a device, not from iCloud. Jun 5, 2023 at 19:13

Try turning off iMessages on iCloud, wait until storage for Messages goes to 0, and then turn it on again.

To turn off Messages in iCloud:

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Click on your Apple ID's name
  3. Click on iCloud
  4. Find Apps Using iCloud. If you see Messages in the list, click on it. Otherwise, click on "Show All" and scroll until you find Messages and then click on it.
  5. Tap on Manage Storage.
  6. Tap on Disable and Delete

To check Messages storage went away, once Messages no longer shows up in "Manage Account Storage", then it's done. From this stage, use the previous steps but to enable Messages instead of disabling it.

  • Do you have instructions on how to do this and how someone will determine when “storage goes to 0?”
    – Allan
    Apr 11, 2023 at 2:07
  • @Allan I edited the answer. Apr 11, 2023 at 13:57

I managed to clear storage by going inside the "all messages" -> "recently deleted messages" and selecting the messages I just deleted (big videos and pictures) and then selecting "Delete"

Hope that helps.

  • actually, no. Neither this solution works. Feb 16 at 7:44

You can’t delete messages en masse, however (tested on iOS 16), you can delete attachments from the contacts page. Here’s how:

  1. Open a conversation.
  2. Tap the Contacts Image at the top
  3. Tap the Info Button; it’s the little “i” in a circle
  4. Scroll down and you’ll see the Photos and Documents sections
  5. (Using Photos for this example) Tap Select and select the photos you’re interested in deleting
  6. Tap Delete at the bottom of the screen.
  7. You’ll get a confirmation screen; tap Delete to confirm.

Images coming soon!

Though this can become a bit tedious if you have lots of attachments to clean out, however, if you’re diligent, you can keep this manageable. I usually curate my Photos and Attachments during downtime so I don’t usually have a huge cache of storage to filter through.

See the Apple Support document Manage your iCloud storage for more ways to free up iCloud storage.

  • 1
    False. This doesn’t work. These steps can be used to delete attachments from a device, not from iCloud. Jun 5, 2023 at 19:12
  • @WHO'sNoToOldRx4CovidIsMurder - It literally says in the first line tested on iOS 16 because the only ways to remove messages from iCloud is from an iDevice or a computer.
    – Allan
    Jun 5, 2023 at 19:33
  • I can confirm that this is false
    – Datbates
    Dec 15, 2023 at 15:38
  • Just deleted the photos from my device using this method. The photos came back the next day. This is identical to what the OP described in their comments.
    – MBorg
    Jan 12 at 0:49

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