Mac Option Key tip #11: Delete a Messages conversation with one click

Updated April 13th, 2020.

Eleventh in the series!

You use the Messages app on your Mac, don’t you? (You should– you can tied it into your phone’s text messaging using your iCloud address, so the same messages show up on both devices, and it’s a lot easier to type on the Mac than on your phone.) Anyhow, sometimes you want to delete a conversation, and when you do it goes like this:

1. Hover over the conversation until you see the “x”

Message app: Hover over the message and look for the "x"
Hover over the message and look for the “x”

2. Click the “x” and wait for the box to slide down, asking if you’re sure

Mac Messages app: Are you sure you want to delete this conversation?
Are you sure you want to delete this conversation?

3. You click the “Delete” button and you’re done.

Turns out you can do it with one click— if you’re holding down the option key! Just hold it down and click the “x.” No waiting for the box to slide down, no need to click a confirming button. Just a simple Option-click. Voilá!

UPDATE: in macOS 10.13.x, you use the SHIFT key, not the Option key, to delete a message without a warning dialog box.

BONUS: turns out you can do it with no clicks. Rather, you do it from the keyboard. If you look in the File menu you’ll see “Delete Conversation…” (and as you know, anytime you see “…” you’re going to see a dialog box with a chance to confirm or cancel). Notice the shortcut for “Delete Conversation…”: Command-Delete.

Mac app Messages File menu
Messages File menu

Now notice what happens if you hold down the Option key. The menu items changes– and so does the shortcut. Now it’s Option-Command-Delete.

Mac app Messages: File menu with the Option key
Messages File menu with the Option key

So, if the conversation is selected, all you have to do is press Option-Command-Delete. No dialog box, no buttons to click, no muss, no fuss. Which also means “no chance to undo it so you had better be sure about deleting the thing.”

UPDATE: this keyboard shortcut is not present in macOS 10.13.x. Hopefully it will come back in a later release. I do not have a substitute for you. However, in macOS 10.14 (Mojave), if you have a conversation selected and then press Command-Delete, you’ll get a dialog box asking if you’re sure… and you can click the Delete button in that box by pressing Command-D!

NOTE: if you check the box in Messages’ preferences to “Save history when conversations are closed” you won’t get asked about saving conversations (because they’re automatically saved).

Messages preferences with Save Conversation
Messages preferences with “Save history when conversations are closed”

And that’s my eleventh Option key blog post. This one doesn’t really count unless you’re using an older macOS since they took the feature away, but I’m keeping the blog post here anyway.

Click here to see all of my blog posts involving the Option key. Save yourself time and effort with the tips in those posts! Copyright 2008-2023 Christian Boyce. All rights reserved.

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11 thoughts on “Mac Option Key tip #11: Delete a Messages conversation with one click

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    1. In 10.13.x, that keyboard shortcut does not work, you are absolutely right! Neither does Option-click. SHIFT-click does what Option-click used to (deletes the conversation without a warning dialog) but I do not have a purely keyboard delete method for you. I’ll update the blog post.

  1. Funny– here, in 10.13.6, holding NO key down at all lets me delete a conversation, no dialog box. This must have been added in one of the 10.13.x updates. Mojave (10.14.x) remains a problem– so far, there’s no way to delete a conversation without encountering the dialog box.

  2. UPDATE for macOS Mojave: if you press Command-Delete to delete a conversation in Messages, you’ll get a dialog box asking you to confirm. The default button, in Mojave, is “Cancel.” The button you want to click is “Delete.” You can do it from the keyboard– try Command-D!

    1. Thank you Christian for Cmd-Delete + Cmd-D! I eventually find out how to delete messages using only keyboard.

    2. Christian,

      do you know how to delete multiple conversations (how to select them)? I tried several options which worked in Mail, but it didn’t work in Messages on macOS Mojave.

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