In 2018 WhatsApp added a much requested feature to its arsenal: the ability to delete WhatsApp messages after they have been sent.

Naturally the process works only up to the point where a message has been read, since the instant-messaging service is not able to turn back time. However, should your message have been sent, delivered, but not read, you can now delete it. There is a caveat, and you must act fast: delivered WhatsApp messages can be deleted only up to seven minutes after they have been sent.

To delete a WhatsApp message tap and hold to select it, then press the bin icon. Choose 'Delete for everyone'.

What you need to know about deleting WhatsApp messages

The new feature can be a lifesaver, able to rescue you from the horror of having written something you immediately regret, or perhaps a message you sent to the wrong person. But it can also create some problems, because whenever you delete a message that has not been read WhatsApp will place a marker in the conversation notifying your recipient that a message has been deleted. If you do not see this message then you know you were too late: the message had already been read.

Delete WhatsApp Messages Notification

It's usually pretty easy to tell when WhatsApp messages have been read - by default you'll see a single grey tick next to a message when it has been sent, two grey ticks when it has been delivered, and two blue ticks when it has been read. But supposing they read the message in the exact moment that you delete it, or either party has disabled read receipts, you may not get this warning.

The other thing to note is that WhatsApp has recently changed the length of time for which it will keep attempting to delete sent messages, and it will now give up after 13 hours, 8 minutes and 6 seconds. Although the deletion process should work instantly if both parties have their phones switched on and are connected to the internet, should someone receive your message and immediately switch off their phone (or their battery runs out), or go out of range, that message might not actually get deleted.

How to delete a sent WhatsApp message after seven minutes has passed

In order to delete a sent WhatsApp message you must give the instruction within seven minutes of sending it. So when the butterflies set in at 7 minutes and 3 seconds, are you screwed?

Apparently not, according to @AndroidJefe. He's found a trick to extend this time period, but as always it works only if the message has not already been read.

  • Turn off Wi-Fi and mobile data
  • Go to Settings, Time and Date settings and roll back the date to a time before the message was sent
  • Open WhatsApp, find and select the message, tap the bin icon and choose 'Delete for Everyone'
  • Turn on Wi-Fi and mobile data and reset the time and date to normal in order for the message to be deleted on WhatsApp's servers

Read next: How to delete a sent Facebook message