WhatsApp provides a handy Delete for Everyone option when deleting messages. Unfortunately, it’s not bulletproof. It’s only available for a short time and your recipient may have already seen the message.

Hi, I’m Aaron. I am a technologist who loves tinkering with software and hardware to understand how they work. WhatsApp is no exception and that tinkering is how I’m able to bring you content like this!

Let’s cover what the delete for everyone function does and why it’s not guaranteed to do what it says it’ll do.

Key Takeaways

  • Delete for Everyone will permanently delete WhatsApp messages for both sides of a conversation. 
  • It has significant limitations that make it somewhat impractical to use.
  • Additionally, the recipient may have already read or taken a screenshot of the message. 
  • The recipient could also restore the message from an inopportunely timed backup. 
  • Deleting the message may also just fail to work. 

Delete for Everyone

When you send a message and then want to retract it, you can use the Delete for Everyone option. Arguably, that does what it says. It deletes the message from the conversation so that no one can access it.

Delete for Everyone does have some built-in limitations. The major limitation is that it only works for the first 60 minutes after sending a message. Beyond that time window and you can only delete messages from your device. 

Another limitation is that when you delete the message, WhatsApp will inform everyone in the conversation that the message was deleted. Participants will know that something was said that warranted retraction. 

It’s Not Guaranteed to Work

In addition to the built-in limitations of the Delete for Everyone function, there are other limitations that can prevent you from completely removing the existence of the message. One of those limitations is…

The Message Can be Seen Before It’s Deleted

60 minutes is a long time, especially when it comes to sending and receiving texts practically instantaneously. By the time you get around to deleting a message for everyone, your recipients may have already read the message. 

It’s also possible for your recipient to have taken a screenshot of the message. WhatsApp doesn’t let you know when that’s happened, so it can be tricky to confirm. A screenshot means that even if you delete the message on WhatsApp, it still exists permanently elsewhere.

Even if the recipient hasn’t seen it yet, they may…

Backup and Restore the Message

If your recipient backs up your message before you delete it as part of a WhatsApp backup, then they’ll be able to restore the message from the same backup. If that happens, you won’t receive a notice that it’s happened. 

Additionally, the message won’t later be deleted because you previously deleted it. While that kind of syncing functionality would be great, it’s not implemented. 

There’s yet another reason your message may not be deleted, which is…

Technical Issues

Your message may not delete for everyone because of WhatsApp technical issues. You’ve likely experienced them before: a message doesn’t send as it should to everyone it should. That could be due to WiFi or cellular data issues, WhatsApp service issues, or recipient phone issues.

Whatever the cause, you may try to delete a message for everyone and while it says that it worked, it may not have. As with screenshots, you may have difficulty confirming that a message has been completely deleted.


Here are some answers to questions related to deleting WhatsApp messages from both sides. 

How Do I Permanently Delete WhatsApp Chat and Media that Never Can be Recovered in Any Ways?

You can’t. You can delete chats and media from your device, but you can’t delete them from other devices if they’re more than 60 minutes old. 

Can WhatsApp Messages be Traced After Deleted?

WhatsApp saves chats in the cloud and on your local device. If you delete a chat from your local device, it will still be available in the cloud an vice versa. So chats can be recovered, traced, and viewed after they’re deleted. 

What is the Difference Between Clear Chat and Delete Chat on WhatsApp?

Deleting a chat removes it permanently. Clearing the chat will clear it from your WhatsApp board, but it’s still accessible.


You can use the Delete for Everyone option to delete a WhatsApp message for all chat participants. It’s not available for too long and isn’t very reliable. Ultimately, discretion and thoughtfulness are key to avoiding situations where you need to completely remove messages.

Have you had a situation where you wanted to delete a chat for everyone? Share your experience in the comments below!