Recently, my wife and I got new iPhone 5S’s for Christmas and I was really hoping that when I restored the backup of the old phones to the new ones, it would clear out some space that was being taken up by iMessage. For some odd reason, when I would go to General and tap on Usage, the biggest space hog was Messages (Saved).

I went to the Messages app and saw I had a whole slew of messages dating back three years. So I figured that was what was eating up the 4.3 GB of space on my iPhone! I spent about half an hour and manually deleted each one (very annoying that there is no way to bulk delete messages). After that, I went back into the Usage report and saw that it had dropped to 3.9 GB. Not a very big change! What exactly was taking up 3.9 GB when I deleted all the old messages?

storage messages

After doing some research, I found out that all that space being taken up is from old attachments in your messages. The problem is that you can delete the messages, but the attachments remain in some sort of never-disappearing cache. So even when you restore your phone to a new device, all that useless data comes along with it. This was just unacceptable to me. I could use that 4.3 GB of  space for a lot of other stuff, especially if you have a 16 GB model.

Luckily, there’s a really easy way to fix the whole problem. What you have to do is in a nutshell is open iTunes, make a backup of your phone, then download this program called iBackupBot, delete all the old attachments from the messages folder and then restore the backup. I did this myself and it worked beautifully. I’ll walk you through the steps to reclaim all that space being taken up by messages.

Create iTunes Backup

It’s a very simple process to create an iTunes backup. Connect it to your computer and then right-click on the device when it shows up on the left hand side in iTunes. Choose Back Up and make sure to choose Backup Apps and Transfer Purchases when prompted.

backup iphone

It’ll take some time to backup your phone depending on how much data is on your device. Anyway, you’ll see the progress bar at the top letting you know how much time is left.

backing up phone Once the backup is completed, you need to download and install the iBackupBot software.

Delete Attachments using iBackupBot

First, go ahead and download the iBackupBot free trial from here:

You can download it for Windows or Mac, whichever system you are using. Note that you don’t have to pay for the software to do what we need. Now go ahead and open the software and it’ll perform an initial scan which can take a few minutes. It will automatically find the backup you just created.

ibackupbot attachments

On the left hand side, make sure you select the backup of your phone with the correct date. There may be multiple backups from different phones and even multiple backups for the same phone. Now expand to the following:

System Files – MediaDomain – SMS – Attachments

Go ahead and select everything in the right hand pane and then right-click and choose Delete. You’ll be asked if you’re sure you want to do this. Click Yes. That’s all you have to do in iBackupBot.

Restore in iTunes

Now the last step is to simply restore the backup that you just edited using iBackupBot. Again, connect your phone to iTunes and click on Restore Backup.

restore backup

You might get a message stating that Find My iPhone has to be disabled in order for you to restore your phone. This is a new security mechanism in iOS 7 to prevent thieves from using stolen phones. Go into Settings, iCloud and turn off Find My iPhone. Then try again and select the correct backup and click Restore.

restore from backup

That’s it! Once your phone has been restored, you can go into the Usage report and you’ll see that the Messages (Saved) has been reduced to nothing! If you had any problems with the steps here or got any errors, post a comment here and I’ll try to help. Enjoy!