How can I bulk delete messages on my Mac?

Struggling to clear out old messages on my Mac at once! Recently, my Messages app became cluttered after syncing with my iPhone. I need a swift way to delete them all together to free up space and stay organized. Any advice or step-by-step instructions would be greatly appreciated!

How to Bulk Delete Messages on Your Mac

Hey there! I totally get the frustration of a cluttered Messages app on your Mac. Especially when syncing with your iPhone, things can pile up quickly. Fortunately, there are ways to do a bulk delete of your messages. Let’s dive into some methods to help you clear out those old messages and keep your Mac running smoothly.

Method 1: Manual Bulk Deletion

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Open Messages App:

    • Launch the Messages app on your Mac. You can do this by clicking on the Messages icon in your Dock or searching for it via Spotlight.
  2. Select the Conversation:

    • Click on the conversation you want to delete messages from. Unfortunately, the macOS Messages app doesn’t support selecting multiple conversations at once, but you can easily get rid of entire threads one by one.
  3. Delete Entire Conversation:

    • Right-click (or Control-click) on the conversation in the sidebar and select “Delete Conversation.”
    • Confirm the deletion when prompted by clicking “Delete.”

This method removes entire conversation threads, which can quickly free up a significant amount of space if you have many long-running conversations.

What if you want to delete multiple messages within a single conversation? Here’s how you do it:

  1. Select Messages:

    • Open the conversation and scroll to the top if you need to select older messages.
    • Hold down the Command key and click each message bubble or a group of bubbles.
  2. Delete Selected Messages:

    • Once you’ve selected the desired messages, press the Delete key on your keyboard.
    • Confirm the deletion in the pop-up dialog.

While this can be slightly cumbersome if done repeatedly, it’s the easiest way without using any additional tools or drastic measures.

Method 2: Automating with AppleScript

For those comfortable with a bit of scripting, AppleScript can be a handy tool. Unfortunately, it’s not as user-friendly, but it’s worth mentioning for tech-savvy folks who need a more automated approach.

Step-by-Step AppleScript Instructions:

  1. Open Script Editor:

    • Launch the “Script Editor” application. You can find this in your Applications folder under “Utilities” or by searching for it with Spotlight.
  2. Create New Script:

    • Click File > New to create a new script.
  3. Enter Script Code:

    • Copy and paste the following code:
tell application "Messages"
    -- Get all chat objects
    set all_chats to chats
    repeat with each_chat in all_chats
        delete each_chat
    end repeat
end tell
  1. Run the Script:
    • Click the Run button (it looks like a “play” button) in the Script Editor.

This script deletes all conversations in the Messages app. It’s quick and can handle large volumes, but be cautious. You can’t undo this once it’s done, so ensure you back up any crucial conversations before running the script.

Method 3: Deleting Message Cache Files

For a more brute-force method, you can directly delete the messages stored on your Mac. This involves deleting the cache files from the Finder. Note that this method removes all messages—use it if you’re looking to start fresh.

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Quit Messages App:

    • Make sure to close the Messages app before starting.
  2. Open Finder:

    • Open a new Finder window.
  3. Go to the Message Cache Folder:

    • In the top menu, click on Go > Go to Folder...
    • Type ~/Library/Messages and press Enter.
  4. Delete Message Files:

    • Delete the following folders and files:
      • Attachments: This folder contains all the media files sent and received.
      • chat.db, chat.db-shm, chat.db-wal: These are your chat database files.
      • You can also delete anything with .ichat extensions if you see them.
  5. Restart Messages App:

    • Restart your Messages app. It should now load up as if it has no messages on it whatsoever.

Note: Deleting these files removes messages permanently, so ensure you don’t have any needed information or media before proceeding.

Method 4: Using Third-Party Applications

There are several third-party management apps, although I recommend using them cautiously. These tools offer convenience but they access private data, so ensure they come from reputable sources.

Recommended App:

  • CleanMyMac X is a popular tool amongst Mac users for general system cleanup, and it includes the option to clear out old message files. Here’s a quick rundown:
  1. Download and Install CleanMyMac X:

    • Download it from the MacPaw website or the Mac App Store.
    • Install and open the application.
  2. Run Smart Scan:

    • Choose the “Smart Scan” option. This scan will highlight areas where space can be freed up, including Messages attachments and caches.
  3. Remove Messages Junk:

    • Click “System Junk” and select "Messages Attachments” to delete any unnecessary files.
    • Follow the prompts to clean up your system.

Using CleanMyMac X, you’re essentially automating the process of finding and deleting the unnecessary files, sort of like the manual cache deletion but with a more user-friendly interface.

Method 5: Regular Maintenance

To avoid the app becoming cluttered again, consider these maintenance tips:

  1. Turn Off Message Syncing:

    • If you don’t need every message duplicated on your Mac, you can turn off syncing. Go to Messages > Preferences > iMessage, then uncheck “Enable Messages in iCloud.”
  2. Regular Deletion:

    • Make it a habit to periodically delete old conversations you no longer need.
  3. Storage Management:

    • Use ‘Manage Storage’ features in System Preferences. Go to Apple Menu > About This Mac > Storage > Manage…. Here you can review and optimize storage, including messages.


There you have it! A variety of ways to bulk delete messages on your Mac. Whether you opt for manual deletion, a little bit of scripting with AppleScript, the brute-force cache deletion, or a third-party app like CleanMyMac X, there’s a method here to suit your comfort level and requirements. Remember to back up any important data before taking drastic steps and happy decluttering!

Feel free to ask if you have any questions or run into issues. We’re all in this tech cleanup together!

Hey there,

Ugh, I feel your pain! The clutter can get real when those messages sync up like a soap opera marathon. Anyway, here’s how you can declutter and get some space on your Mac in no time.

Option 1: Manual Cleanup (grab a coffee, it’s gonna take a minute)

  1. Open the Messages app.
  2. Select the conversation you want to delete.
  3. Click on the conversation name at the top, then select ‘Delete Conversation’.

Option 2: Use Terminal (the cool/nerdy way)

If manual labor ain’t your cup of tea, here’s a quicker, more ninja-like method using Terminal:

  1. Open Terminal (find it with Spotlight search if needed).
  2. Type in:
 rm -rf ~/Library/Messages/chat.*
 rm -rf ~/Library/Messages/Attachments/*

Hit ENTER. Boom! There goes all the Messages data. Only do this if you’re sure, there’s no “are you absolutely positive?” warning.

BTW, Backup First:
Just in case, make sure to back up anything important, since mistakes here can have no ‘undo’ button.

That should help you reclaim your sanity! Happy decluttering!

Cheers (and may the message gods be ever in your favor)

P.S. Apple’s gotta upgrade this app, right? This shouldn’t be so hard! :roll_eyes: