We’ve all been there; you want to clear out absolutely as many of the messages in your inbox as possible. While it’s a simple task in email applications, it’s less easy to delete all of your messages at once on social media platforms such as Facebook.
While we know how to navigate the simplest features of social media interfaces, some parts of them still throw us for a loop. Facebook’s social media feeds, for instance, are meant to be extremely simple. You scroll through it, you click what you want to follow, you like what piques your interest, and you reply to messages from friends. Profile management is simple, videos and images are uploaded easily, and sharing your favorite finds on the web can be done with a single click. What most users won’t realize until it bites them, however, is that clearing out your message inbox can be an arduous task that’s entirely different from, say, deleting a few emails.
The few frustrations associated with Facebook are found in its deeper settings when you’re trying to alter privacy settings and remove content that you’ve already uploaded. Suddenly, a walk in the park turns into a trek through the jungle, and frustrating support listings and information-packed menus don’t particularly help. This accurately summarizes the task of deleting every message in your Facebook message inbox, an arduous task that you won’t even suspect until you find yourself wanting, or needing, to do it.
Largely, this is because Facebook sees all of these messages as parts of ongoing conversations, rather than simple messages. Examine the browser-based portion of the interface that lets you chat in real-time with other online users. You’ll be able to access every message that you and the other person have ever shared, right? While this is normally a very likable feature of Facebook–it encourages interpersonal communication that’s more meaningful than most messaging apps–it can prove to be a mighty nuisance when all that you want to do is clear out your message inbox.
Here’s the deal–there are ways to clear out all of your Facebook messages at once, but their effectiveness is always somewhat iffy. It’s been made clear that Facebook isn’t eager to give you this option due to the way that their messaging feature is set up (and its additional ties to the Facebook Messenger app, which is stellar.) However, you are left with a couple of options that are both fairly easy to execute.
- Third-party extensions. A few extensions exist for popular web browsers that advertise their ability to clear out your inbox in one fell swoop. Rather than deleting messages conversation-by-conversation, these types of extensions will add a page action to your Facebook message interface that allows you to delete everything. One big caveat: they aren’t particularly reliable, and even the best of them can quickly become buggy and outdated.
- Delete by conversation. I know that this is almost the opposite of what many users request, but I can’t stress enough how much more efficient it can be in the long run than trying to find a way to circumvent Facebook’s own inbox management system. If you don’t want to deal with third-party extensions (that’s me, by the way!) then I recommend using this method. I’ll provide a few more helpful hints below, that will allow you to turn this into a more painless process.
Facebook and Facebook Messenger
While new users may not realize it, Facebook Messenger and Facebook have not always been separate entities. At one point, there was no “messenger,” and all activity was done through the Facebook web page and the Facebook mobile app.
However, the times have changed, and anyone who makes regular use of Facebook Messenger will probably tell you just how glad they are that it branched away as a separate (yet intimately connected) communications toolkit. Messenger is fantastic and has distinguished itself enough to be one of the best messaging apps available on smartphones. On top of that, it doesn’t even require a desktop app like much of its competition–Messenger is still tied into Facebook itself.
When you want to delete all of the messages in your inbox, though, it’s somewhat less helpful. We’ll be focusing specifically on Facebook as it’s accessed through your web browser since you’re given the widest breadth of options on this platform (and let it be said, they’re far easier to navigate than the mobile app.)
Clearing Out Your Inbox
We can tackle this task the third-party way, and the extension-free way that only requires some patience and time spent on Facebook. We’ll take a look at extensions first since the issue could use some clarification anyway. Facebook doesn’t exactly provide the most straightforward answer for people seeking to delete every message in their inbox, but we can certainly set the record straight here.
Do be aware that any referenced browser extensions are constantly fluctuating in their usefulness. While they may be compatible with several browsers now, they’re only an update away from having that functionality made moot. Because of this, I’ll recommend right here and now that users download and install Google Chrome; its wide range of extensions and open platform will stand the best chance of helping you to better manage your Facebook inbox.
Your first stop is going to be the Google Chrome Web Store, where you’ll be able to find an extension that will help you with your Facebook inbox. Other browsers do allow extensions, but few have such extensive offerings as Chrome.
The most effective extension currently available is aptly titled “Facebook – Delete All Messages,” and you can find it by entering the search query “Facebook.” Do know that there is a difference between apps and extensions; they’re listed separately in your search results, and the functionality that we want will be found by using an extension.
This is a free extension, thankfully, and you can add it to your browser by simply clicking the blue “Add to Chrome” button at the top of the window. Once you’ve done so, the extension will do just as it’s promised by adding a new action to Facebook when you’re visiting your inbox.
However, here’s where a caveat comes into play–this isn’t an official Facebook extension by any means, and therefore, it isn’t always going to work. I haven’t had the opportunity to test it, myself (because I like my messages right where they are, thank you very much), but more than two thousand reviews have averaged to give it a 4-star rating on the Chrome Web Store. This can be allowed to speak for its usefulness, and is all the recommendation you probably need to go for it if you’re willing to use a third-party app.
Delete by Conversation
Here’s my method, and here’s why I prefer it:
If you’re willing to delete messages from your Facebook inbox by conversation (i.e. by deleting entire “conversations” with people), you won’t need to rely on a third-party application. Though the “Facebook – Delete all Messages” extension has thus far not proven to have any security holes, I don’t place a lot of stock in anything that isn’t made by a social media platform’s own development team.
This method is slower; you won’t have access to a command that simply wipes out your inbox, but you will have control over which messages you delete. When you’re viewing your Facebook inbox through your web browser, you’ll see a list of contacts on the left, each of which contains your entire message history with that person. In this way, Facebook’s messages function more like an actual messaging application than an email inbox.
If you select one of your contacts and look at the top of the window, you’ll see a small gear icon that’s labeled “Actions.” From here, you can select either “Delete Messages” or “Delete Conversation.”
- Delete messages will allow you to select individual messages from your conversation history with this contact. If there are only certain messages that you want to delete in the first place, this can be an effective method of doing so.
- Delete conversation has a broader effect. Instead of going through your conversation history and selecting messages for deletion, you’ll instead be able to delete the entire history of messages that you have shared with this contact. It’s a bit of a drastic measure, but definitely available within Facebook if you need to do it.
You should know that no matter which messages you delete, or even if you delete entire conversations, the people on the other ends of those messages will still have them available. When you’re deleting them from your own Facebook inbox, you’re only removing your own access to them.
Here’s one more option, aimed primarily at people who aren’t sure if they want to delete messages or not, but definitely know that they need to clean some of the clutter from their messages. This option is accessed from the same place as above but is, this time, available right next to the names of your contacts in your messages list. The interface can be slightly confusing–the “archive” button is actually a small x that look as if it might mean “delete”–but the purpose of archiving your messages is to remove them from your inbox, but keep them safely stored away and accessible for when you might need them.
Unless you absolutely must delete your messages, this is usually what I turn to. I often find it handy to have a living record of my messages with Facebook contacts, and this allows me to keep a clean interface while not losing information.
It’s certainly a roundabout method, but users have discovered the means to delete all of your messages from Facebook. The most accurate solution to the often-requested feature will require a third-party extension, but if you’re willing to give it a whirl, it’s fairly accessible from the Chrome browser. (Note: even if you delete your messages from Chrome, they’ll remain deleted in other browsers.)
If you’re like me, and would prefer not to use third-party extensions, then you can move through your contacts list more precisely, deleting individual messages or whole conversations. It will take longer than deleting all of your messages outright, but give you greater accuracy.
Someday soon, Facebook may give us the option to delete all of our messages at once, in one swift go of it. Until that day comes, the above guide gives you a trifecta of effective ways to approach your dilemma.