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Why iOS 16's New Edit Text Message Feature Isn't as Sneaky as You Thought

There's a pretty obvious reason to never edit text messages on your iPhone -- and a better alternative.

Text messages on a mobile phone
Fortunately, there's a better alternative to editing texts.
James Martin/CNET

Apple recently introduced the ability to edit your texts on iOS 16, allowing you to fix grammatical mistakes or incorrect information in already sent messages. It's a feature I've wanted for years -- and I know I'm not alone in that.

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Twitter recently added an editing option for tweets, so it only makes sense that Apple would jump on the hype train and release its own version for the iPhone.

Well, I'm here to say that you shouldn't be using the new editing feature.

In this story, I'll explain what's wrong with the edit text message feature on iOS 16, and show you a much better alternative. Here's what you need to know.

Why avoid the edit text message feature?

The biggest reason why you shouldn't use the edit text message feature is because of the edit history

To explain, I'll need to back up a bit.

When Apple released the first developer beta version back in June, the software included the edit text message feature, but it worked differently. If you edited a text message using the early version of iOS 16, your recipient would be notified that the text message had been edited, with an edit button appearing in the thread, but that's all. They couldn't go back and see what your original message said.

During the development of iOS 16, Apple tweaked the feature so that it includes a history of all your edits. Now, when you edit a message, the recipient is not only notified but can easily view your original text and all of your subsequent edits.

Edit text history on iOS 16

Your original text, as well as subsequent edited text messages, appear as faded blue chat bubbles above the most recently edited text.

Nelson Aguilar/CNET

If a recipient wants to view a message's history, they can tap the Edited button that appears underneath any edited text message. Above the edited text, all previous messages appear in a faded blue bubble. If you don't want your recipient to see your original message (for whatever reason), that's a big problem.

So what's the alternative?

What you should do instead of editing text messages

The answer lies in another new iOS 16 text messaging feature -- unsending messages. Instead of editing a text message to correct or erase something you don't want the recipient to see, simply unsend it, rewrite it and send it again as a new text message.

You have less time to unsend a message (2 minutes) than to edit one (15 minutes), but you should always choose to unsend a message if you have the opportunity. To unsend a text message, press your finger down on the text message you want to take back and hit the Unsend option.

Unsending a text message on iOS 16

If you unsend a text message, the recipient won't have a history to go through and read it.

Nelson Aguilar/CNET

When you unsend a text message, there's no history left behind in that message. The recipient will see that you've unsent a message, but they won't be able to read what your original message said. And if they have text notifications on, those will disappear when a message is unsent.

There's always the chance that someone will read a message before you're able to retract it, but unsending it improves the chances of your text never being read. It's a much better bet than editing, which leaves behind a record of your original message for the recipient to see.

If you don't want your original text message to be recorded and seen, and you can act quickly within the allotted 2 minutes, always unsend a text message and then just write it again.