Recover Deleted iMessages on Mac – Where Are iMessages Stored?

How to Recover Deleted/Old iMessages on Mac

Check where iMessages are stored on Mac and then recover deleted iMessages with 3 smart tricks. The deleted messages can be retrieved from Mac whether you have a backup or nor.

Jul 20, 2020 • Filed to: Solve Mac Problems • Proven solutions

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You can send messages on Mac via iMessage. And since your Mac is usually synced with your iPhone, when messages are deleted from Mac, the messages also disappear from iPhone.
The recovery of deleted files is always a tricky thing, especially when it comes to messages. If you have important iMessages deleted from Mac and you haven't made a backup, this post will show you how to recover the deleted iMessages on Mac with some smart tricks. Before getting into these tricks, let's look at where iMessages are stored on macOS.

Where Are iMessages Stored on Mac

On macOS Sierra and earlier, all iMessages are stored on Mac hard drive by default. Before macOS Sierra in 2016, all iMessages are stored on Mac hard drive by default. However, due to space consumption issues, this feature was altered to suit your preferences.

On macOS High Sierra/Mojave/Catalina, you can decide whether to keep iMessages to your Mac hard disk or just storing them to iCloud. Therefore, if you are using macOS later than Sierra and want to recover iMessages, give a cross-check to ensure that the messages have been saved on your Mac hard drive.

Step 1You can choose where to save your chat history from the Messages app. Open the Messages app and go to Preferences > General.

Step 2Make sure that the option "Save history when conversations are closed" is checked.

If you have chosen to save iMessage history, the iMessages are stored in ~/Library/Messages by default. Follow the steps below to find deleted or old iMessages on your Mac.

Note: If you have set a storage limit for your stored messages, Mac will replace your old messages with the new ones once the limit is reached.

How to Recover Deleted iMessages on Mac?

If you want to retrieve your lost conversation threads, the best way is to go to the Messages folder and restore your data. Follow this quick tutorial to get access to your messages folder.

Step 1Open your Finder box and insert the path ~/Library/Messages and press the Go button. This path would take you directly to the messages folder.

Go to iMessages Folder

Step 2Messages folder contains two subfolders named Attachment, Archive, CloudKitMetaData, and your chat database in the form of chat.db, which contains your iMessages history.

Find iMessages Chat History

Step 3Chat.db is the database that keeps a record of your previous and current chat histories. To find the deleted iMessage, you should open the Chat.db file with programs like TextEdit.

Open iMessages History

If you can't find the chat.db files that you need, you can use a reliable third-party program to restore your messages.

Recoverit Data Recovery

Recoverit Data Recovery can recover all kinds of files from macOS, including chat.db files, images, videos, audio, etc. It doesn't add or modifies your data, but recovers the deleted data in its original form.

Here is what Recoverit Data Recovery can offer.

How to Restore Old iMessages from Time Machine?

Time Machine is one of your best options to reverse your data loss. If you have turned on Time Machine backup, it also backs up your messages at regular time intervals.

Let's see how to restore deleted iMessages with the Time Machine tool.

Step 1Close your iMessage app on your device and make sure that it's not running in the background.
(This step is critical for the smooth restoration of deleted messages. Opening your iMessages account during the recovery may interfere with the restoration process.

Step 2Open Time Machine tool in your Mac device and choose the 'Go' option in the Finder Toolbox.

Step 3In the library section of your Mac device, find a file with an extension chat.db created on the date before the iMessages are deleted. This file contains a copy of the deleted iMessages.

Step 4Select the 'Restore' option to initiate the recovery of your messages.

Restore iMessages from Time Machine

Step 5Time Machine retrieves the saved but older version of your iMessages. You might lose some recent messages that were not backed up by Time Machine.

Note: Time Machine restores every single message available in its backup. After the restoration of Time Machine messages backup, you might have to spend a few minutes to clean up unwanted conversation threads.

How to View Old iMessages on Mac from iCloud?

If you have back up your iMessages to iCloud, use these straightforward steps to get them back.

Step 1 You must sign out of your iMessages app on the device you are trying to get your messages restored. Furthermore, don't forget to close the Messages app. These steps would help iCloud overwrite the existing data of your Messages app with the older backup version.

Step 2Open your Finder app and select the 'Go' button to access the library of your iCloud.

Step 3Now from your most recent backup, pick up the file named messages.

Step 4Open your messages file and restore backed up iMessage.

Recover iMessage from iCloud

Note: You can also reset your iPhone and let iCloud restore data in all of your apps, including iMessages.

Final Words

Loss of important message threads can be a bitter experience for any of us. However, you can use different backup tools to have your data available at the time of need.

David Darlington

staff Editor

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