Deleting messages and chats in Microsoft Teams

In this post we will look at what options are available to enable deletion of messages and chats in Teams, more specifically how you can enable owners to delete messages posted in the general channel.

Contents

Delete at the tenant level

At the tenant level, there are no permissions or special powers set by default to enable Teams Owners or Teams Admins to delete messages or chats.

However, there is a setting within a Messaging Policy in the Teams Admin Center that allows you to change this.

  • Navigate to https://admin.teams.microsoft.com
  • Under Messaging policies > either create a new custom policy or edit the Global (org-wide default)
  • Set Owners can delete sent messages to On
  • This can take up to 24 hours to take effect (it took 24 hours in my tenant)
Set owners can delete sent messages to yes to enable tenant-wide deleting of sent messages in Teams.

Things to note

Enabling this will only allow Teams Owners to delete the initial message, not the entire thread. There is a Teams UserVoice suggestion that relates to private chat threads, but does relate to public messages in threads too.

Even after the message has been deleted, any replies will still be visible.

Delete at the Team level

At the Team level, Teams owners have the ability to configure channel settings that will apply to all channels within the Team. As you would imagine, any settings configured by a tenant-wide policy will be hidden at the Team level.

Within Manage Team, you are able to switch on/ off member permissions which control their ability to delete or edit messages.

The settings to call out here specifically are:

  • Give members the option to delete their messages
  • Give members the option to edit their messages

Delete at the individual level

As an end user, you are able to delete in the following ways:

  • You can delete you own messages* and chats
  • You can hide threads in your own private chats
  • You are able to mute threads in your own private chats

* You can delete your own messages where moderation isn’t in place, or any Team level settings don’t stop you from doing so.

Example of how an individual has the ability to delete their own messages posted within channels in Teams.

Things to note

You can’t currently delete entire threads within your own private chats, as above this is on the backlog in the UserVoice community.

As suggested by Andrew Warland, if you have an Microsoft 365 retention policy set for Teams 1:1 or channel chats, deleted messages will not be deleted for the period specified in the policy, even if the option to delete chats is available. For more information on retention in Teams, I highly recommend his blog post understanding and applying retention policies to content in MS Teams.


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