iMessage might appear like a simple platform to communicate over text messages with other Apple users using the internet. But it’s neither simple nor just a platform to communicate over only “text” messages. There’s so much more you can do with iMessages – send photos, videos, Memojis, audio, and digital messages, play multiplayer games with your contacts.

But the wider this gamut of things that you can do with iMessages, the wider the things you need to keep tabs on. And not everyone cares about finding out everything about everything as soon as they get their hands on a new device. It’s on a need-to-know basis for many people, and that’s perfectly alright. After all, there are many things you’ll only encounter after using your iPhone for a while.

So, if the time has finally come for you to know about the “Kept” indicator that only sometimes appears on your voice messages on iMessage, you’re in the right place.

The Enigma of “Kept” Decoded

Apparently, Apple thinks voice messages are a clandestine affair and treats them as such. By default, any voice messages you send or receive will auto-destruct. All voice messages have a life of only two minutes after you first listen to them unless you alter their natural course.

What does this alteration look like? The recipient can choose to keep a voice message that prevents it from auto-deleting after two minutes. The voice message then stays in the iMessage conversation history like any other text message.

Essentially, if you sent a voice message to someone and they chose to keep it, you’ll see a “Kept” indicator beneath the voice message to let you know that the message didn’t expire.

To expand a bit further on it, there are two possibilities: either the recipient specifically chose to save your voice message, or they have set up their phone to keep all audio iMessages.

How to Keep a Voice Message?

Go to the settings of your iPhone, scroll down, and tap on ‘Messages’ to open Message settings.

Message settings will open. Scroll to the very end until you find the section for ‘Audio Messages’. There, you’ll find the option for ‘Expire’. By default, it’s set to ‘After 2 Minutes’.

Now, when this is the case, any voice messages you send and receive will show a ‘Keep’ option underneath them. If you don’t tap that option, the message will expire after 2 minutes and be gone forever. If you do tap the ‘Keep’ option, the message will stay in your iMessage conversation history until you delete it or the conversation. This is true for all audio messages, whether you sent them or received them.

Let’s go back to the ‘Expire’ option in the Settings. Tap it to open it. Besides ‘After 2 Minutes’, the other option is ‘Never’. Tap it to select it.

When audio messages are set to never expire, any voice messages you send or receive will stay in your iMessage conversation history forever (or, unless you delete the chat).

Note: The configuration of this setting only affects the messages on your end. If you have selected messages to expire after 2 minutes, it won’t mean that the audio messages you send will expire from the other person’s device after 2 minutes. They’ll only expire from your end.

Can I know How they Kept the Message?

Now that you understand the whole setting better, let’s circle back to the enigma of “Kept”. Is there a way of knowing if the other person intentionally hit that keep button for your voice message, or is it their default setting? Not really. Whatever the case on their end, if the message doesn’t expire due to any reason, you’ll only be notified with a “Kept”.

Although you can deduce the situation further. If only some of your voice messages show the “Kept” indicator in a conversation, then the person is definitely saving those manually. But if all of your messages are showing it, then the person is either maniacally saving all your voice messages, or they have the expire setting configured as such. The latter is obviously much more likely, but you can never be sure.

Note that even if the other person chooses to keep your audio message, the message will expire from your end until you choose to keep it too. Once the message disappears from your end, the small “Kept” indicator will turn into a label to let you know that they kept an audio message from you.

All jokes aside, the auto-expiry for voice messages can be pretty useful. If you use them a lot, they can gobble up a lot of space, and auto-expire saves you from running out. Most people let audio messages expire for that exact reason. So, if you’ve only just encountered the “Kept” indicator even after years of usage, it’s perfectly reasonable to wonder about it.