You Can Finally Edit And Unsend Texts On Your iPhone, But There's A Catch!

Here's what you need to know about the new iPhone update's text-editing capabilities.
Portrait of a young woman on vacation exploring city and using smartphone
Rockaa via Getty Images
Portrait of a young woman on vacation exploring city and using smartphone

When Apple first announced its iOS 16 update for iPhones at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June, it shared several features that would be added to any phone once downloaded.

One of the most attention-grabbing additions was the new text editing function, which finally allows iPhone users to fix anything from spelling errors, embarrassing message sends or even texting the wrong person by accident.

Apple’s new update and editing feature officially made its way to all iPhone users on Monday, leaving many of us wondering how to use it – or even unaware that we can. There are also some major downsides with the text edit and unsend features. Here’s what you need to know:

What is iOS 16, and how do I get it?

First things first: this specific operating system update is free but available only to users with an iPhone model released in 2017 or later. If your phone is an older version, you won’t be able to access the iOS 16 update with the text editing feature.

For users with a new enough iPhone, here’s how to download the current update:

  1. Make sure your iPhone is plugged into a charging source.
  2. Open the Settings application.
  3. At the top of the screen, there should be a category for Software Update Available, which, upon tapping, shows the latest iOS 16 update. If you haven’t updated your phone in a while, you might see an older iOS version with the option to upgrade directly to iOS 16 below.
  4. If you don’t see the Software Update Available on your screen, you can scroll to General in Settings, tap, then select Software Update and repeat the steps there.
  5. Users who have their Automatic Updates setting turned on might be up to date with the latest iOS, as Apple alerts users about new updates before automatically downloading. This shows up as an alert notification from Settings.
  6. Once you have completed the iOS 16 update, you can access the text editing feature.

Who can use the new iPhone text Edit?

Click play to see the new edit function in action. (Credit: Apple)

The feature is available only if both the sender and recipient use iMessage and have updated their operating system to iOS 16.

If you are sending a text message to a recipient who does not have iMessage, the conversation appears as green text bubbles rather than blue. Texts sent to Android or other non-Apple users cannot be unsent or edited.

How do I edit a text in iMessage?

Press and hold over the specific text you want to change. A few options will appear, including Undo Send and Edit. From there, you can select the feature you need.

How long do I have to edit a message?

You can make edits only for 15 minutes after sending a message.

Can people still see my original message?

The recipient can still see what the original message was. However, if you send something you want to edit beyond a common typo, there is a way around this, too.

Apple’s iOS 16 also lets you unsend messages — within a certain timeframe.

If you’ve downloaded Apple’s iOS 16 update, you are now able to unsend messages with the new feature. But much like editing, there is a time limit. You’ll have just two minutes to remove a text after hitting send. The user on the other end will no longer see your unsent text if they hadn’t read it yet, but they will be able to see you’ve deleted something.

What if the other person hasn’t gotten the iOS 16 update?

It can get a little risky here. According to CNBC, iMessage recipients who have an earlier iOS version could still be able to see your unsent text message, even if you’ve deleted it from your end.

Users are alerted about this possibility in the Messaging app with the statement, “You unsent a message. [Recipient’s Contact Name] may still see the message on devices where the software hasn’t been updated.”

There’s also a possibility that both the original and edited text message you’ve made will be sent as separate bubbles to a person who doesn’t have iOS 16, according to NPR.

What if I realise too late that I made a typo?

After the permitted time windows for editing or unsending, your message is permanent. Apple had considered a higher amount of time for making fixes, according to The Washington Post, but received feedback that the feature could be mishandled.

What if I’m sending texts from another Apple product, like an iPad?

This iOS update is the first to be just for iPhones; unlike prior updates, it is not available for iPad Touch users. Users who send texts via iMessage on iPad products won’t be able to access the corresponding iPadOS 16 version until October.

What other features should I know about with iOS 16?

According to Apple, lots of new settings are included in iOS 16 in addition to the editing feature.

Upon completing the software update, you might notice an immediate change in your lock screen. You can customise a new screen from the design setup and change the font, colour and more by tapping and adjusting.

You will also have the ability to choose several lock screen photos as a shuffled gallery with the timed pacing of your choice. Other lock screen design possibilities include being able to make a patterned emoji as your background or choosing a personalised colour gradient.

Additional messaging changes include the chance to recover deleted messages for up to 30 days and mark specific texts as unread.

Some similar updates are available for the Mail and Photos apps via iOS 16. You can now unsend emails up to 30 seconds after sending them. For Photos, you now have the ability to undo (and redo) multiple edit steps.