Voicemail Won’t Delete on the iPhone – Here’s What To Do

Are you finding you can’t delete voicemails on your iPhone? Are voicemails not playing at all?  Did you try deleting a voicemail but it kept coming back? Is your iPhone just generally being a pain in the neck with regards to voicemail? Today’s tutorial will show you how to fix all of these problems and possibly more to get your iPhone voicemail working properly.

Voicemail issues are apparently common across the range of iPhones. I have seen them from the older iPhone 5 all the way up to the iPhone XR. Sometimes it’s not the phone itself at fault, but the network that’s causing the problem. Sometimes it is the phone, and a few simple tricks can get voicemail working again.

Fixing these kinds of problems is a process of elimination. There is no single fix for all voicemail problems so trial and error is the theme of the day: try one of the solutions below and then retest. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, move on to the next possible solution.

All of the fixes listed here have worked for some iPhone users, so they are tried and true solutions even if there’s no guarantee of which one will actually work for you.

What to do if your voicemail won’t play on your iPhone

Voicemails are recorded on your network as audio files and are downloaded to your phone. They are then played back in the usual way, just through the phone app rather than through the music app. Any voicemails you have are visible in the Voicemail app and should be able to be played back by pressing the play icon. This doesn’t always work, though. Here are some fixes you might try.

Set up visual voicemail if you haven’t already

Let us begin with the most obvious. Have you set up visual voicemail on your iPhone?

  1. Select the Phone app and select Voicemail.
  2. If you see a message that says Set Up Now in the bottom corner of the voicemail screen, you have not set it up.
  3. Tap Set Up Now and follow the wizard. You will need to set up a greeting and a password to get it working.

Check signal strength

One issue I have seen first hand is when an iPhone receives the voicemail notification, but not the voicemail itself. In an ideal world, the iPhone would tell you that the file isn’t available, but it doesn’t seem to do that in the world we live in.

It appeared that the network strength was sufficient to deliver the call which was missed and the notification. It was not strong enough, however, to download the audio file to be played.

As a first check, verify that you have more than two bars showing in the upper-right of your phone’s screen.

Reset the phone app

I have also seen this method fix voicemails that are not playing and not deleting, too. A quick reset of the voice app does wonders and takes two seconds.

  1. Double press the Home button to access App Switcher.
  2. Swipe up on the Phone app to close it.
  3. Close App Switcher and select the Phone app again.

What to do if your voicemail won’t delete on your iPhone

Voicemail not deleting is another common issue with iPhone users. Again, it isn’t clear what causes this problem, but we do know several different methods to potentially fix it. If you cannot delete your voicemail on your iPhone, try these fixes.

Use airplane mode

The most common fix for this is to switch your phone to Airplane Mode and back out again. Airplane mode turns off all cellular, Bluetooth, and Wi-fi signals.

Turning on Airplane mode then turning it back on again has worked for a few of the people I asked about voicemail issues, so it’s well worth trying.

If Airplane Mode on its own doesn’t work, turn off WiFi or 4G and then try it again. This can also work.

Delete the voicemail from the network

If the airplane mode method doesn’t work, make sure the voicemail has been deleted from your network.

  1. Dial your voicemail number (it varies depending on your service provider) and enter your voicemail PIN.
  2. Select voicemails and delete them.
  3. Close the call and then dial back in again. It should say you have no voice messages.

Clear deleted voicemail messages

iOS (the iPhone operating system) uses a system similar to Trash on a Mac, in that deleting a voicemail will remove it from view but not necessarily remove the file completely. If your iPhone is still picking up that file, it will show as not being able to be deleted.

  1. Open your Phone app and select Voicemail.
  2. Select Deleted Messages.
  3. Select Deleted at the top of the page.
  4. Select Clear All.

This permanently removes the voicemails from your phone so should stop notifying you.

Reboot or reset your phone

If all those steps fail, a reboot may be in order. If you have tried Airplane Mode, deleted the voicemail message, and cleared old messages, this is the next task. Try a simple reboot to see how it goes.


If that doesn’t work, you may need to either live with the voicemail notification just sitting there, or you may need to try a full reset of your iPhone. It is a step of last resort but can fix most problems with iOS so maybe worth a try. Just remember to back up your phone if you decide to give it a try.

If you decide to reset your iPhone, here are some TechJunkie articles that might be useful:

How To Factory Reset the iPhone X

How To Hard Reset iPhone 7 And iPhone 7 Plus

How To Factory Reset Apple iPhone Xs, iPhone Xs Max and iPhone Xr

If you found this article useful, you might find other TechJunkie articles helpful, including How To Record your iPhone Screen and Chrome Taking Up a Lot of Space iPhone – How To Fix.

Do you have any tips or tricks for fixing problems with voicemail on an iPhone? If so, please leave us a comment below!

5 thoughts on “Voicemail Won’t Delete on the iPhone – Here’s What To Do”

Avatar leslie says:
YAY! Finally! This worked! Thanks SO much, as I’ve been dealing with this for over a year.
Avatar Derek says:
Place in airplane mode
Then delete voicemail
Then come out of airplane mode
Voicemail will be gone and will not come back
Avatar Barbara A Bass says:
This worked. Thanks so much.
Avatar leslie says:
Thanks!!!! This worked! I’ve been dealing with this for over a year. I’m so happy!
Avatar Kill the Bill says:
Airplane Mode/Delete offending message/Restart!

Voilá, Presto, Caramba, it just works.

Avatar Jan says:
After putting phone in airplane mode, deleting message, I had to turn phone off and re-boot. It seems to have worked!
Avatar Ed Findrick says:
Cannot delete 1 999 476-5752 from my iphone 6 with ios 12 voice mail. *86 reports no voicemail. The recording has an Asian language message. I have tried network resets with no success in deleting the voicemail.

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