An M2 Macbook on a white desk.
Justin Duino / How-To Geek

You can delete a single message or multiple by selecting them, right-clicking, and picking Delete. You can also remove all messages by moving specific files from the Messages folder in your Library to the Trash.

When your text messages start to build up, it might be time for some cleanup work. You can delete specific or all texts and conversations in Messages on a desktop Mac or MacBook in just a few steps.

About Deleting Messages on Mac

Before you start smashing that delete button, there are a few things you should know. First, if you have Messages enabled for iCloud, any of those you delete on your Mac are also removed from your other Apple devices.

If you want to avoid losing them entirely, you can disable the syncing feature in Messages > Settings > iCloud. Just note that if you turn off iCloud messaging, future messages on Mac will not sync between your Mac and other devices.

Additionally, you may find the work of deleting messages and conversations a bit tedious. To ease that burden in the future, you can set up Messages to automatically remove older texts after a timeframe you select. We’ll also show you how to do that below.

How to Delete Messages on Mac

Want to delete individual messages on your Mac instead of full conversations? While you can use the Undo Send feature if you sent the message recently, you’ll need to use the Delete action if it’s been longer than two minutes.

RELATED: How to Unsend or Edit an iMessage on iPhone, iPad and Mac

Select the conversation in the Messages app and then right-click the particular message you sent. This can be text, a photo, a video, or another item. Pick “Delete” in the shortcut menu.

Delete a message on Mac

Then, confirm by selecting “Delete.”

Confirmation to delete a message

RELATED: How to Delete Messages on iPhone

How to Delete Conversations on Mac

If you prefer to delete an entire text message thread, also called a conversation, you can just as easily as deleting an individual message.

Delete a Single Conversation

To remove one conversation, select it in the list on the lefthand panel. Then, do one of the following to delete the conversation.

  • Right-click and choose “Delete.”
  • Swipe from right to left and click the Delete icon (trash can).
  • Select Conversation > Delete Conversation in the menu bar.

Delete a conversation on Mac

You’ll then be asked to confirm. Select “Delete” to remove the message thread.

Confirmation to delete a conversation

Delete Multiple Conversations

You may find it simpler to mass delete several conversations at once. It’s easy, but you need to know the right keyboard shortcut for what you want to do.

  • To select adjacent conversations, click the first one, hold Shift, and click the last one.
  • To select non-adjacent conversations, click the first one, hold Command, and then click each remaining one.

You can then delete all selected conversations one of these ways:

  • Right-click and choose “Delete.”
  • Select Conversation > Delete Conversations in the menu bar.

Delete multiple conversations on Mac

Choose “Delete” to confirm in the pop-up window.

Confirmation to delete conversations

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How to Delete All Messages on Mac

Maybe you want a completely fresh start in Messages on your Mac or MacBook by removing all conversations. You can certainly use the steps above to delete multiple conversations, but there is a quicker way using Finder and your Library folder.

With Finder active, select Go > Go to Folder in the menu bar, enter the following, and press Return:


Go to the Messages folder in the Library

In the Messages folder, find and select these files:

  • chat.db
  • chat.db-shm
  • chat.db-wal

Then, right-click and pick “Move to Trash” or drag the items to the Trash folder.

Move messages files to the trash

You can then empty the trash on Mac or right-click the files in the Trash folder and choose “Delete Immediately” to permanently remove the files.

Delete All Message Attachments

If you use the above method to delete all messages on Mac, this does not remove the attachments. You can do this using Finder which is similar to removing all conversations above.

With Finder active, select Go > Go to Folder in the menu bar, enter the following, and press Return:


Go to the Attachments folder in the Library

Select all items in the Attachments folder and either right-click and pick “Move to Trash” or drag all items to the Trash folder. You can then empty the trash or delete the items immediately with a right-click.

Move attachments to the trash

Automatically Delete Messages on Mac

If you don’t want to perform a cleanup in Messages on Mac manually, you can have Messages automatically delete conversations after a certain amount of time.

Open Messages and select Messages > Settings in the menu bar. Go to the “General” tab and use the “Keep Messages” drop-down box to pick the timing. You can change it from “Forever” to “30 Days” or “One Year.”

Drop-down box to choose the time frame to keep messages

You’ll then be asked to confirm the action and remove the older messages. Select “Delete” to continue or “Cancel” to exit and return to Settings.

Confirmation to delete old messages

Once you change the timing, Messages deletes conversations and attachments automatically for the time you pick.

Now that you know how to delete messages on a MacBook, take a look at how to unsubscribe from text messages.

RELATED: How to Free Up Disk Space on a Mac

Profile Photo for Sandy Writtenhouse Sandy Writtenhouse
With her B.S. in Information Technology, Sandy worked for many years in the IT industry as a Project Manager, Department Manager, and PMO Lead. She learned how technology can enrich both professional and personal lives by using the right tools. And, she has shared those suggestions and how-tos on many websites over time. With thousands of articles under her belt, Sandy strives to help others use technology to their advantage.
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