A couple of years ago, Microsoft Teams wasn’t an app that was much known outside of the organizational landscape. As a Workstream Collaboration app, it was mainly a tool used by organizations to facilitate communication and collaboration among their teams. It was a staple for organizations with global and remote teams.

But then, the pandemic happened and Teams became a household name. People were using it to connect with friends and relatives, to conduct their small business, take classes, and much more. Amid this popularity, Microsoft decided to make things easier for personal and small business users and made a completely separate Teams app.

But it doesn’t matter which version of the app you’re using, the primary goal remains the same. It is an app that makes communication easier. Not only can you connect through audio and video meetings, but you can also easily chat with other users, which let’s be honest, a lot of us prefer more than the alternative.

But when you’re using an app to constantly communicate, it can get cluttered with messages. Here are all the ways to declutter your Teams app by deleting unnecessary chats.

Deleting Chat in Teams for Work

Teams for Work and School provides more avenues for communication than Teams for Personal and Small Business Use. You can chat with other members privately as well as with the whole team via channels.

Deleting Team Chat in a Channel

Teams and channels are distinctive features of Microsoft Teams that make it one of the most popular collaboration apps out there. Channels offer an effective way to communicate with the entire team.

All channels have a default ‘Posts’ tab which are the hotspots for communication among teammates. You cannot delete this tab nor can you delete any message here that wasn’t your own.

In fact, that’s true for all communication in Teams for Work and School. You can only delete messages that you send. That rather creates trouble in decluttering your Teams. The only scenario the feature supports is when you need to retract a message you deleted previously. Any message you delete is deleted for everyone.

So, when you wish to delete a message in a channel, remember that you’re deleting it for everyone. You can delete old messages as well. That is, there is no time limit after which you cannot delete a message.

Go to ‘Teams’ from the navigation pane on the left. Then, open the channel in the team where you want to delete the message.

Go to the ‘Posts’ tab in the channel.

Hover over the message you want to delete. Few options with a string of emojis would appear on the right. Click the ‘More options’ icon (three-dot menu).

Then, click ‘Delete’ from the menu that appears.

The message will be deleted. In its place, the message “This message has been deleted” would appear, which is what everyone else in the team would also see. There will also be an additional option for ‘Undo’ next to it. Click it if you wish to undo the delete action. The message would reappear for everyone.

Deleting a Message in Private Chat

You can also talk to anyone in your organization via private messages in one-on-one or group chat. Teams also has meeting chats which you can access before, during, or after the meeting. All these conversations are available in the Chat section of the app. But it does not support a rather simple feature.

You cannot delete entire chat threads in Microsoft Teams for Work. The feature is reportedly on the development team’s radar but there’s no knowing when or if they will bring the functionality.

Presently, the only way you can delete a chat is by deleting your messages in the chat. And then, similar to team chat in a channel, the message is deleted for everyone.

Go to the ‘Chat’ tab from the navigation pane on the left.

Then, open the conversation where you want to delete the message from the list of chat threads. Go to the message you want to delete and hover on it. Few options would appear. Click ‘More options’ icon (three-dot menu).

Select ‘Delete’ from the menu that appears.

Similar to channel messages, the message will be deleted and everyone else in the chat will see “This message has been deleted”. To undo delete, click the ‘Undo’ option.

Given that there is no option to delete the entire chat, you can instead hide a chat if you want to remove it from your chat list. It may not be the exact thing, but it works to some extent – especially if your motive is to declutter your chat list.

Is There No Way to Delete Chat History in Teams for Work?

It’s natural to worry about old chats piling up in your Teams app. While there’s no way to delete chats currently, there is a way to prevent old chats from piling up. But only IT admins can do this. You can advise the IT admin for your organization to set up the retention policy so that it does not store chat data infinitely.

While storing data infinitely is the default configuration, you can change it so that it deletes the channel and chat data after a certain time has passed.

Deleting Chat in Teams Personal

For personal use or running a small business, Microsoft introduced Teams for Personal and Small Business Use that simplifies the complexities of Teams for Work. The main difference here is that there are no teams and channels. The only place you can communicate with others is through private chats. Private chats can be one-on-one, group chats, or meeting chats.

In Teams Personal, you can delete entire chat threads as well as individual messages for one-on-one, group as well as meeting chats.

Deleting a Message

Just like in Teams for Work, Teams Personal lets you delete the messages that you have sent previously. Deleting a message allows you to retract a message as it is deleted for everyone involved in the conversation and not just you. On that note, you can only delete individual messages sent by you and not the messages received.

In the Teams Personal app, go to ‘Chat’ from the navigation pane on the left.

Open the chat where you want to delete the message. Hover over the message until some options appear and click the ‘More Options’ icon.

Then, click ‘Delete’ from the menu. The message will be deleted for everyone and you’ll have the option to undo your action.

Deleting a Chat

To delete an entire chat thread, go to the ‘Chat’ tab from the navigation pane on the left.

Hover on the chat thread for the conversation you want to delete in the chat list on the left half of the window. A couple of options will appear. Click the ‘More options’ icon (three-dot menu).

Then, select ‘Delete’ from the menu that opens.

A confirmation message will appear. Click ‘Yes, delete’ to confirm your choice. This action cannot be undone.

What Happens When you Delete an Entire Chat Thread?

When you delete a chat thread for a group or meeting chat, you’ll leave the chat. Others in the chat will be able to see that you left the group or meeting chat, but they won’t know that you deleted it.

The chat will remain for other members, however. If you were the organizer of the meeting (when deleting a meeting chat), other members will still be able to chat but they won’t be able to join the meeting call.

When you delete a group or meeting chat, all history is deleted from your devices. But if someone adds you back to the chat, it’ll reappear.

When you delete a one-on-one chat, the chat is only deleted on your end. It remains for the other person. They won’t know that you’ve deleted it. You can start a chat with them again at any time. For you, there will be no chat history. But they’ll see the entire chat on their end until they delete it.

Whether you’re deleting a one-on-one, group, or meeting chat, any files, links, or messages you shared in the chat will remain accessible for others. If you don’t want them to be able to access it anymore, you’ll have to individually delete those messages before deleting the entire chat.

Deleting Chat in Windows 11 Chat app

Windows 11 users have an additional way to use Teams Personal. Microsoft integrated a liter version of Teams for Personal Use straight into the Windows 11 taskbar. The Chat app lets you chat access your recent chats and have audio or video meetings without even needing to open the app.

But when it comes to deleting chats, it doesn’t offer the same leeway. To delete the entire chat thread, you have to open the Teams Personal app and delete it as outlined above. From the ‘Chat’ flyout window, click the ‘Open Microsoft Teams’ option to open the app.

You can still delete individual messages without having to open the app. The process is still the same as deleting a message in the Teams Personal app. Open the chat where you want to delete your message from the Chat flyout window. The chat opens in a separate pop-up window.

Then, go to the message and hover on it. Click the ‘More options’ icon and finally, click ‘Delete’ from the menu that opens.

Deleting a chat is straightforward in most apps. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case with Microsoft Teams. But this guide will help you through it all, no matter which variant of the app you’re using.