How to View Text Messages Sent and Received (Step-by-Step Guide)

In 2024, text messaging remains one of the most popular forms of communication. Whether you use an iPhone, Android, or other smartphone, being able to view both sent and received text messages can be important for a variety of reasons.

Fortunately, with the right tools and techniques, viewing your text message history is easy. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll provide step-by-step instructions for viewing sent and received SMS messages on all major smartphones and messaging apps.

By the end, you’ll understand exactly how to find and read old texts on your device. Let’s get started!

Is it Possible to View Text Messages Sent and Received?

Yes, it is possible to view text messages that have been sent and received on both iPhone and Android devices. Here are a few ways to do it:

On iPhone:

  • Open the Messages app and select a conversation thread to see the full history of texts exchanged with that contact.
  • Use the search bar at the top of the Messages app to search for specific words or phrases in your text history.
  • Swipe down from the top of your Messages list to load older text history and keep scrolling to view past messages.
  • Enable iCloud backup of your messages, then view and search your text history at
  • Connect your iPhone to iTunes on a computer and use iTunes backups to restore and view old texts.

On Android:

  • Open the default Messages or Messaging app and tap into any conversation to see your text history with that person.
  • Use the search function in the messaging app to search for specific texts.
  • Scroll up from the bottom of your Messages list to load older texts that have been sent/received.
  • Back up texts to Google Drive, then restore from a previous backup to access old messages.
  • Use SMS backup apps like SMS Backup & Restore to save and export your text history.
  • Some Android carriers like Verizon let you view text history online.

So in summary, as long as the texts haven’t been deleted, you can access both sent and received messages on iPhone and Android using the native messaging apps, backups, or third-party apps.

Viewing Sent & Received iMessages on iPhone

The iPhone’s default Messages app provides an easy way to look back at your iMessage history. iMessages are texts sent between iPhones over Apple’s servers rather than your carrier’s SMS network. Here’s how to view them:

Step 1: Open the Messages App

The first step is simply to open the Messages app on your iPhone. It’s the green icon with a white speech bubble. Your message threads will be listed chronologically.

Step 2: View Message Threads

To read an entire conversation thread, simply tap on it. This will open the thread so you can scroll through and read the full history of messages sent and received.

Step 3: Search for Specific Messages

If you’re looking for a specific message, use the Messages search bar at the top. Here you can search by contact name, words in the message, date, or other criteria. Matching messages sent and received will appear in the search results.

Step 4: View Message Details

To view additional details about a message like the exact send/receive time, long press on an individual message bubble. This will bring up the Details overlay with information including the date, time, and sender/recipient.

Step 5: See Older Messages

By default, Messages only shows your recent iMessage history. To go farther back, swipe down at the very top of your message list. Keep swiping to continue loading older messages.

This makes it easy to retrieve and view both sent and received iMessages from months or years in the past.

Viewing SMS Text Messages on iPhone

In addition to iMessages, the Messages app handles standard SMS/MMS texts exchanged with non-Apple devices. Here’s how to view these messages sent and received via your carrier:

Step 1: Open Message Threads

Just like with iMessages, open the thread for a contact to see your full history of SMS/MMS texts.

Step 2: Search SMS Messages

You can also search for specific SMS content using the Messages search bar. Make sure to select “SMS” under the search bar before searching.

Step 3: View Message Details

The Details overlay accessed by long pressing works the same way for SMS as iMessages. You can see the send/receive date, time, and more.

Step 4: See Older SMS Messages

To load older SMS history, keep swiping down at the top of your messages list. This will continue to show older and older texts exchanged via SMS.

So by using message threads, search, and scrolling through history, it’s easy to revisit SMS messages on the iPhone.

Viewing Texts in Android Messages

The default Messages app on most Android phones provides simple access to your messaging history, including both SMS and other messaging services.

Here’s how to see your sent and received texts:

Step 1: Open Message Threads

Just like on iPhone, opening a message thread shows the full history of texts exchanged with that contact over SMS/MMS and other messaging services.

Step 2: Search Messages

To quickly find a specific text, use the search bar at the top of the app. Search by contact name, text content, date, or other criteria.

Step 3: View Message Details

Press and hold an individual message bubble to bring up details like the exact date/time and whether the message was sent or received.

Step 4: See Older Messages

To view older messages beyond what’s initially loaded, scroll up from the bottom of your message list and more history will load.

Android Messages makes it simple to revisit older conversations – just search or scroll up through message threads.

Viewing Messages in WhatsApp

With over 2 billion users worldwide, WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging apps. Here’s how to see your full WhatsApp text history:

Step 1: Open Chat Threads

Tap into any chat thread to view your entire history of messages sent and received with that user via WhatsApp.

Step 2: Search Messages

Use the search bar at the top of WhatsApp to quickly find messages. You can search by contact name, date, text content and more.

Step 3: View Message Details

Long press any message bubble to bring up details like exactly when the message was sent or received.

Step 4: See Older Messages

To view older WhatsApp history beyond what’s initially loaded, simply scroll up from the bottom of a chat thread. More messages will continue to load.

Step 5: Export Chat History

WhatsApp also allows exporting your full chat history with someone via email or other sharing options. Tap More > Export Chat from an open thread.

WhatsApp stores your entire messaging history, making it easy to find and view old texts.

Viewing Messages in Facebook Messenger

As another very popular messaging app, here’s how to view your complete history of texts sent and received on Facebook Messenger:

Step 1: Open Messenger Threads

Tap into any conversation thread to see the full history of messages exchanged with that person.

Step 2: Search Messages

Search for specific messages using the search bar at the top of the Messenger app. Search by name, date, message content and more.

Step 3: View Message Details

Long press an individual message to bring up details like the send/receive date and time.

Step 4: See Older Messages

Scroll up in any message thread to load your older messaging history on Facebook Messenger.

Step 5: Download Your Data

You can also use Facebook’s “Download Your Information” tool to export your full Messenger text history. This allows viewing your complete message archives outside the app.

Between thread histories, search, and data download, viewing your sent/received texts on Messenger is straightforward.

Viewing Texts in Telegram

Telegram is another messaging app growing in popularity for its security and capabilities. Here’s how to view your Telegram messaging history:

Step 1: Open Telegram Chats

Tap into any Telegram chat thread to view the entire history of texts exchanged with that contact.

Step 2: Search Messages

Use Telegram’s search function to quickly find specific messages. You can search by contact name, date, message content and more.

Step 3: View Message Details

Long press a message and select “Message Info” to see details like exact send/receive times plus media file info.

Step 4: See Older Messages

Scroll up from the bottom in any chat thread to load your older message history on Telegram.

Step 5: Export Chats

You can also export your Telegram chat history by tapping More > Export Chat History. This allows viewing your texts outside the app.

Telegram stores your complete messaging history for easy access.

Viewing Google Voice Messages

Unlike most messaging apps, Google Voice transcripts all texts – allowing you to view your entire text history online even without your phone:

Step 1: Sign in to Google Voice

Head to and sign in to your Google Voice account.

Step 2: View Message Inbox

Select the Messages icon to view your full message Inbox with all texts received.

Step 3: View Sent Messages

Then click on the menu ≡ icon and select “Sent” to switch to a view of all messages you’ve sent.

Step 4: Search Messages

Use the search bar here to quickly find messages by contact name, date, keywords or more.

Step 5: View Message Details

Click into any message thread to see details like the exact send/receive date and time.

Because it’s cloud based, Google Voice provides easy online access to your full text history.

Recovering Deleted Texts

What if you already deleted a text message and now need to retrieve it? Here are some options:

iPhone Message Recovery

  • iCloud backup – If you have iCloud backups enabled, you may be able to restore deleted messages from a previous backup.
  • iTunes backup – Connect your iPhone to iTunes on a computer and restore from a previous backup.
  • Third party apps – Some apps like iMyFone iBypasser can recover deleted texts from iOS devices.

Android Message Recovery

  • Google Drive backup – If your texts were backed up to Google Drive, you may be able to restore deleted messages.
  • SMS backup apps – Apps like SMS Backup & Restore can recover deleted texts from Android.
  • Phone carrier – Some carriers keep SMS message archives that you can request.

Recovering Deleted WhatsApp Messages

  • Recent deletes – WhatsApp stores recently deleted messages for 30 days before permanent deletion.
  • Local backup – Restore deleted messages using a local WhatsApp backup file stored on your device.
  • Cloud backup – If enabled, restore deleted WhatsApp texts from your Google Drive backups.

Recovering Deleted Facebook Messages

  • Download your information – Use Facebook’s tool to download all your data including deleted Messenger texts.
  • Request archives – You may be able to request your deleted Facebook message history directly.

So while you can’t directly undelete texts on most messaging apps, there are ways to recover deleted messages through backups and archives. Act quickly for the best chance of text message recovery.

Apps for Saving Text Messages

To make sure you always have a record of important texts, you may want to use an app to locally save your SMS messages, WhatsApp chats, and other text history. Here are some top options:

  • SMS Backup & Restore – Automatically backs up SMS texts from Android to your account.
  • iMyFone iTransor – Saves iPhone texts, WhatsApp messages, and other app data to your computer.
  • SharePlus – Backs up SMS, MMS, WhatsApp and more to your phone and Google Drive.
  • SMS Backup+ – Archives SMS/MMS messages on Android to the cloud.
  • SMS Export – Exports SMS and call logs from Android to your email, Evernote and more.

Using an automated backup app provides an extra layer of protection for reviewing your text history when needed.

Securing Text Messages

In addition to backing them up, you also want to keep your text messages safe from prying eyes. Here are some ways to secure texts on your smartphone:

Set up App Passwords

For apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, enable app passwords or PINs to add an extra layer of security.

Encrypt Your Messages

Use a messaging app like Signal or Telegram that provides end-to-end encryption for your text conversations.

Hide Notification Content

On both iPhone and Android, you can hide message preview text in notifications for privacy.

Use App Locking Software

Apps like AppLock can password protect and lock specific apps like messaging apps.

Enable Phone Passcodes/Biometrics

Of course, set a strong passcode, fingerprint lock, or face unlock on your smartphone to prevent unauthorized access.

With the right tools and settings, you can keep your text message content private while still being able to view and recover it when needed.

Avoiding Text Message Spam

Another issue users often run into is spam texts from unknown numbers. Here are some tips to cut down on spam SMS/text messages:

  • Don’t reply to suspicious texts – This confirms your number is active.
  • Block unknown numbers – Most phones let you block specific numbers.
  • Use spam call and text blocking – Carriers like Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint all provide this.
  • Avoid shady services – Don’t give your number out to sketchy websites and apps.
  • Register on the Do Not Call list – Reduce telemarketing texts and calls.
  • Report spam texts – Forward spam texts to 7726 (SPAM) to report them.
  • Install a spam call and text blocker app – Try apps like YouMail or RoboKiller to automatically block spam.

Stay vigilant and use available tools to keep unwanted spam and texts to a minimum.

Text Message Storage Limits

One limitation to be aware of is storage restrictions on text message history for iPhone and Android devices:

  • iPhone – Maximum storage capacity varies by model. Older iPhones may store up to ~10,000 texts while newer models can save up to ~15,000 texts per thread.
  • Android – Text message limit also varies, but may max out at around 10,000 texts per thread on many devices.
  • Google Voice – Stores unlimited text history online as long as your account is active.

So especially for very active texters, your phone may eventually start deleting older messages. That’s why it’s a good idea to regularly back up your text conversations if you want long-term archival storage.

Text Message Laws and Regulations

It’s also important to understand the laws around text messages when it comes to viewing, sharing or recovering texts:

  • Text messages may be subpoenaed for civil lawsuits and court cases if relevant.
  • Viewing or sharing someone’s texts without consent may violate privacy laws.
  • Police may be able to obtain a warrant to view your text message history for investigations.
  • Your wireless carrier can see message metadata like dates, times, recipients etc.
  • Encrypted messaging apps offer more privacy protection of content.

Check your local laws, but in general treat text messages as private correspondence that requires consent to share.

Also Read

How to View Text Messages Sent and Received on iPhone

Viewing your text message history on an iPhone is easy and straightforward. There are a few different methods to access and view your sent and received text messages:

Method 1: View Text Messages History on My iPhone

The simplest way to look back through your text messages is directly on your iPhone:

1. Open the Messages App

The Messages app comes pre-installed on every iPhone. Tap to open it.

2. Select a Message Thread

Your different message threads will be listed in chronological order. Tap into any thread to view the full history.

3. Scroll Through the Messages

Once in a thread, scroll up towards the top to view older messages. This will show the complete back-and-forth conversation.

4. Search for Specific Messages

Use the search bar at the top of the Messages app to search for texts by recipient name, keywords, date, etc.

5. View Message Details

Press and hold on any message bubble to bring up details like date/time, sender/recipient, and more.

This makes it quick and easy to revisit and read through your text history directly on your iPhone.

Method 2: View Text Messages Online from iCloud

You can also view text message history through iCloud:

1. Go to

Sign in to your iCloud account online.

2. Click Messages

The Messages icon will bring up your conversations.

3. Open a Conversation

Select any conversation to view the full back-and-forth text history with that contact online.

4. Search Messages

Use the search bar here to find specific texts by date, content, etc.

5. View Details

Click the (i) icon next to any message to see details like send/receive date and time.

Viewing texts online through iCloud lets you access message history from any device.

Method 3: View Text Messages from Carrier Websites

Some carrier websites like Verizon Messages and AT&T Messages let you view text history:

1. Go to Your Carrier Website

For example, for Verizon or for AT&T.

2. Sign in to Your Account

Login using your wireless account credentials.

3. View Message Inbox

This will display your conversations and text message history.

4. Open Conversations

Click into any conversation to see your full SMS/MMS messaging history with that contact.

5. Search Texts

Use the search feature to find specific messages by keyword, date, etc.

Check with your carrier – some provide online access to view and search your text history via their website or apps.

How to View Text Messages Sent and Received on Android

There are several ways to access your text message history on an Android device. Here are some options:

Method 1: View Text Messages History on My Android Phone

The default Messaging or Messages app provides easy access to your text history:

  1. Open the Messaging app on your Android.
  2. Tap into any conversation thread to see your full history with that contact.
  3. Use the search bar to find specific messages.
  4. Long press any message to view details like date/time.
  5. Scroll up in threads to load older messages.

Method 2: View Your Kid’s Text Messages from Another Phone

If you need to monitor your child’s texts, use family tracking apps like:

  • Google Family Link – View texts remotely.
  • MMGuardian – Read your child’s SMS, WhatsApp, etc.
  • Famisafe – See messages right from the parent dashboard.

Enable the app on your child’s phone and view their messages from your device.

Method 3: View Text Messages on the Computer

Some options for viewing SMS texts on a computer:

  • Sync Android messages to the Messages web app.
  • Use the Your Phone app to access messages on Windows.
  • Download backup files like SMS Backup & Restore to a computer.
  • Some carrier websites let you view messages online.

Method 4: Restore Text Messages from Google Backup

If texts were backed up to Google Drive:

  1. Open Drive and find your device’s backup.
  2. Right click > Manage versions.
  3. Click Restore to restore a version with the texts.
  4. Messages will be restored on your phone.

Hope this gives you a few options to easily view sent and received texts on Android!

How to Tell If a Text Message Was Delivered or Read

Here are some ways to tell if a text message was successfully delivered or read by the recipient:

iPhone / iMessage

  • Delivered: Under the text bubble, you’ll see “Delivered” when the text is successfully sent.
  • Read: “Delivered” will turn to “Read” when the recipient opens the message.
  • Blue vs. Green Bubbles: Blue means the iMessage was delivered over data, while green indicates a standard SMS text.

Android / SMS Texts

  • Delivered: Look for “Delivered” or checkmarks under the message when successfully sent.
  • Read receipts: These are not enabled by default for SMS, but some messaging apps have read receipts.
  • SMS vs. MMS: SMS texts (140 characters) send as one block, while MMS may split into multiple parts.


  • Checkmarks: One check is delivered, two checks is read.
  • Read receipts: Under Settings > Account > Privacy, you can turn on read receipts to see when messages are opened.

Facebook Messenger

  • Delivered: You’ll see a “Delivered” tag under the message when sent.
  • Read: The delivered tag will change to “Seen” once the recipient has opened the message.

Other Apps

  • Look for delivered, read, and seen indicators like checkmarks, “Delivered/Read”, etc.
  • Enable read receipts in app settings if available.

So in summary, look for delivery confirmations and read receipts to verify if a text was successfully sent and opened!

Why Lookup Text Messages and Is It Legal?

There are a few legitimate reasons why someone may want or need to look up their text message history:

  • To find lost information or details from previous conversations.
  • To review plans, appointments, addresses, etc. confirmed via text.
  • To retrieve photos or files sent/received in text messages.
  • To provide evidence for legal proceedings or cases.
  • To troubleshoot issues or bugs with messaging apps.
  • To verify if a specific text was sent or received.
  • To recover old memories and conversations for nostalgia.
  • To backup or archive important text conversations.
  • To aid in recovering a lost or damaged phone.
  • To monitor children’s text conversations with parental consent.

As for the legality – in most cases, it is legal to lookup and view your own text message history. However, viewing someone else’s text messages without their consent may violate privacy laws in some jurisdictions.

Text messages sent to you are generally considered your lawful property and you have the right to access them. But sharing text content or media requires permission.

So in summary, there are many legitimate personal and practical reasons to view your text history. But respect others’ privacy – only access their messages with consent.

Where Do I Find My Text Messages?

Text messages are typically stored within the messaging or SMS app on your smartphone. Here’s where to find your full text history on iPhone and Android:

On iPhone

  • Open the Messages app (green icon with speech bubble).
  • All your text conversations will be listed in threads – tap a thread to view the full history.
  • Use the search bar at the top to search for specific messages.
  • Swipe down from top to load more message history from further back.

On Android

  • Open your SMS/messaging app (usually called Messages, Messaging or Texting).
  • Tap into any conversation thread to see your back-and-forth texts with that contact.
  • Use search to find specific texts.
  • Scroll up from the bottom to load older messages.

On the Web

  • Sign in to iCloud on the web to view iPhone texts.
  • Some Android carriers like Verizon let you view texts on their website.


  • iTunes and iCloud backups store iPhone texts.
  • Google Drive can back up Android texts.
  • Apps like SMS Backup+ also backup texts.

So in summary, your messaging app is where text history is stored on your phone. But there are also web and backup options for accessing messages on other devices.

How Can I Get My Text Message History?

Here are a few ways to retrieve your text message history:

  • On your iPhone or Android phone – Open your messaging app and view your conversation histories. You can scroll back through your messages or search for specific texts.
  • iCloud backup – If you have iCloud backups enabled for your iPhone, you can restore from a backup to retrieve deleted and old texts.
  • iTunes backup – Connect your iPhone to a computer and restore a backup from iTunes. This can recover deleted texts.
  • Google Drive backup – If texts are backed up on your Android, restore from Google Drive.
  • Carrier records – Contact your phone carrier and request a transcript of your text message history.
  • Third party apps – Apps like iMyFone D-Back for iOS or SMS Backup & Restore for Android can extract and save your text history.
  • Purchase a phone data recovery service – A phone recovery specialist may be able to forensically recover your SMS history.

The easiest options are checking your messaging app and restoring from a backup. But if you need older or deleted texts, contacting your carrier or using a recovery app are good options.

Where Do Text Messages Go When Deleted?

When you delete text messages on your phone, they are not completely erased immediately. Here is what happens to deleted texts:

  • On your phone – The messages are marked as deleted but may still be recoverable from the phone’s storage for a short time.
  • iCloud backup – Deleted iMessages are removed from your next iCloud backup. Older backups retain deleted texts.
  • Google Drive backup – Deleted Android messages sync and are removed from your Google Drive backup.
  • iTunes backup – A deleted SMS will remain in an iTunes backup until you overwrite it with a new backup.
  • Carrier records – Your cell phone carrier keeps temporary records of text metadata like dates and times, but content is quickly deleted.
  • Recovery apps – Some third party apps can recover recently deleted texts before they are overwritten.

So in summary, deleted texts are immediately removed from view but can exist in backups and storage temporarily until permanently overwritten. To recover deleted messages, quickly restoring a backup is usually the best approach.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common questions about retrieving text message history:

How far back can I view text history?

iPhone and Android devices typically store up to ~10,000 texts per thread. Apps like Google Voice store unlimited message history.

Can I recover permanently deleted texts?

It may be possible by restoring backups or contacting your carrier. But text recovery becomes difficult after ~30 days.

Where are text messages stored?

On iPhone, texts are stored locally in the Messages app data. On Android, texts are stored in the device system storage.

Can police view your text message history?

Yes, with an appropriate court ordered subpoena or search warrant police can gain access to texts stored on your phone.

When might I need to view old texts?

Reasons include: recovering lost information, reviewing details from the past, evidence for court cases, troubleshooting, fighting text spam, and more.

Is it illegal to view someone’s texts without permission?

In many cases, yes. Viewing texts without consent violates privacy laws in most jurisdictions.

Can text messages be hacked?

It is possible but difficult for a hacker to remotely access text content on a secure smartphone. Using encryption apps reduces this risk.


I hope this guide has helped explain the many options available for viewing your messaging history across the major text messaging apps and services. With the right tools, it’s possible to search, view, recover, back up and protect both sent and received text messages.

Having access to your text message archive can provide useful insight and information as needed. But always be mindful of privacy and only share or view texts with consent.