Delete Conversations in Mac Messages from the Keyboard

Updated June 12th, 2019.

You may have tried pressing Delete or Backspace or even the forward delete key to delete a conversation in the Mac’s Messages app. If you’ve tried, you know that none of that works. What does work is to hold the Command key (⌘) down while pressing Delete or Backspace (forward delete won’t work).

If you select a conversation (see below) and then press Command-Delete (⌘=Delete)– or Backspace– depends on what your keyboard calls it–you’ll get a message asking whether you’re sure you want to delete the conversation.

“Are you sure…?” Note the default button is CANCEL.

You might think this dialog box requires you to click the “Delete” button by hand. Turns out there’s a way to do it from the keyboard. The secret: Command-D (⌘-D). Command-D “clicks” the Delete button, as if you’d done it with the arrow pointer.

Note: there was a time when the confirmation dialog’s default button was Delete– see below, a screenshot from a long time ago! Notice how the blue button (the default button, the one you can “click” by hitting Return or Enter) used to be “Delete” and also notice how now it’s “Cancel.”

Dialog box in Messages on a Mac, asking whether one wants to delete a conversation
This is how the confirmation dialog used to look. A simple tap of Return or Enter would click that Delete button. Not anymore!

Holding the Command key down and typing the first letter of the button you want to click often works in other situations and apps also. It’s always worth a try.

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4 thoughts on “Delete Conversations in Mac Messages from the Keyboard

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  1. Appears this does not work for messages on iPad Pro with magic keyboard
    (i.e., why must I use touch to delete)? Many thanks for your help.

  2. Thanks for taking the time to respond. For your own edification if useful, I actually figured it out—if you click the conversation, a pop up menu appears, with a delete option. click, and it’s gone!

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