After a (generally) successful migration from an old MBP (2014, Big Sur) to a new M2 MBA, I have several unread messages indicated by the notification badge in the dock on the iMessage icon.

I've tried rebooting, logging out and back in, killall Dock, and even clicking on every single thread in the messages app, but nothing works.

How do I get rid of the phantom messages?

FWIW I don't have this issue on my phone connected to the same account.


2 Answers 2


Try right-clicking the Message app in the dock and select “Unread Message.” It still have this issue. It opens an empty message but, the indicator is removed. This is what worked for me.

  • I don't see this in the dock on macOS Ventura - see my edit to the answer showing how to do this in the view menu.
    – bmike
    Jul 17 at 17:13

Ask Siri: "Show my unread messages"
Siri will show nothing, but ask you if you want to reply, no. If you have multiple phantom unread messages, Siri will continue asking you if you want to reply. After going through all phantom messages, the badge count will correct.

From MacRumor's forum thread "Phantom Messages Badges"

Also try to look at the various buckets - even if none show unread messages - select each one sequentially via the view menu or the key shortcuts.

macOS messages View menu

Toggling between known and unknown and be sure to delete one and visit that bucket if you can. Also, sometimes if you can't clear it and have iCloud syncing - waiting a day with the Mac running and not sleeping (or allow App Nap for it to wake several times and connect to power) can help the cloud sync. Disabling the cloud sync and repeating the view steps above also may be needed and then re-enabling the sync.

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