Stop Accidentally Deleting Conversations in Messages on the Mac

tl;dr how to protect against accidentally deleting an entire conversation in Messages on your Mac

The second time this week on my Mac that I accidentally blew away the entire conversation history with someone in Messages, I decided to make it much harder to mess up this way again.

Let’s have Command-Delete (⌘⌫) delete a conversation. What could possibly go wrong?

For background, my guess is that I hit Command-Delete (⌘⌫) to delete the message text I was editing, and then inadvertently repeated it and blew away the conversation. I ran across this Apple support posting that started from “how do I undelete” to “OK given that I can’t undelete, how do I stop this from happening again.” Credit to them for the solution. I’m writing this out because the subtlety of a new menu command appearing out of the blue. I’m sure there’s some awesome command line way of doing this. I look forward to reading it in the comments :)

How To

The point here is to assign a keyboard shortcut to the “Delete Conversation” command that is just about impossible to hit accidentally. You can still delete a conversation by using the command from the menu — it’s just a lot harder to do it unintentionally.

  1. Bring up the “Keyboard” System Preferences panel
  2. Assign a shortcut for the app “Messages” for the command Delete Conversation… that is not Command-Delete (⌘⌫)
  3. Assign a shortcut for the app “Messages” for the command Delete Conversation (this time without the ) that is not Command-Delete (⌘⌫)
  4. Confirm that these steps worked

How To (Details)

  1. Bring up the “Keyboard” System Preferences panel by pressing ⌘ and then Spacebar together, then type “keyboard” and press theReturn key:
Press return, or enter, at this point.

Click Shortcuts at the top of the window, and then App Shortcuts in the box on the left, and then the + sign just down and to the right of the box on the left (I’ve noted these in red below):

2. Click on Application: and choose Messages. In Menu Title: enter Delete Conversation… Details matter here: Conversation not Conversations or Convesratioon, and three periods. (Copying the text above will work too.) We’ll get to the control with red box next:

Now, click in the Keyboard Shortcut: field, noted in red above. Enter a keyboard shortcut that you have no chance of hitting accidentally. For example, hold down the Command and the Option key and Control and Shift (all in the lower left of the keyboard) and the = key (at the upper right of the keyboard). Then click Add.

At this point, the Keyboard panel looks like this:

It’s hard to imagine entering Ctrl-Option-Shift-Cmd-= accidentally.

And the File menu in Messages looks like this:

Wait — nobody asked for a Delete Conversation command.

3. Repeat step 2 above in Keyboard settings using for Application: and Messages only this time for Menu Title: enter Delete Conversation without the three dots. Again, details matter here: Conversation not Conversations or Convesratioon, and no periods.

Again, click in the Keyboard Shortcut: field and choose something that there is no chance of hitting accidentally. For example, hold down the Command-⌘ and the Option key and Control and Shift (all in the lower left of the keyboard) and the- key (at the upper right of the keyboard). Then click Add.

Now the Keyboard panel looks like this:

Srsly.

And the File menu in Messages looks like this:

4. To confirm that this works, let’s start a conversation in Messages that we want to delete. Create a new message to 123@456.com, type some message text (likehello,) and send it. Now type some more text and press Command-Delete (⌘⌫) repeatedly, deleting that text and… no longer deleting the entire conversation. Ahh.

Thanks to Jaime Little for severe comments and editing on initial draft.

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Dean Hachamovitch’s story.