What Does iMessage ‘Kept’ Means for Voice Messages?

Apple has several ways for you to communicate in the Messages app aside from texting — and that includes audio messages. You can send a voice recording via iMessage by long-pressing the microphone icon just right of the input field and speaking. However, by default, these audio messages self-destruct after two minutes, which isn’t good if you want them archived.

A voice message carries a more personal substance than a regular written text message. With this, you can easily voice record your own words and say what you feel with pauses, whispers, high and low pitch, etc. It has more emotion.

The reason audio messages disappear from your iPhone is that the default settings of audio messages sent through iMessage are set to automatically expire after two minutes unless you actively choose to save them. If you did not save them by tapping “Keep,” you will not be able to retrieve them at this point, even when you have not digested the information.

iMessage Kept Meaning

Audio messages in the Messages app are cool little ways of communicating without text. You can tell someone you love them, send them a song clip, or just ask what’s up, all with your own voice.

Note that audio messages behave similarly in the Messages app for macOS. The only difference is that you tap the mic to record instead of long-press, and you can’t raise-to-listen.

How to Send Voice Messages with the Message App

  1. Open the Messages app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap on an iMessage conversation or start a new one by tapping the compose button in the upper right and then add a contact.
  3. Touch and hold the gray audio wave icon on the right of the typing box.
    iMessage Keep Kept 1
  4. Speak your message.
  5. Once done, leave your hold. Now, you can tap the triangle play button to hear what you recorded. Tap the cross (X) button to cancel and re-record a message.
  6. To send the voice message, tap on the bubble icon with an upward arrow.
    iMessage Keep Kept 2

Done! You have successfully sent a voice message in iMessage on your iPhone.

In case you are the receiver of a voice message, tap on the triangle play button to hear the audio message. If you have enabled “Raise to Listen” under the Settings app → MessagesAudio Messages section, then you can lift the phone to your ear, like when on a normal phone call, and listen to the voice message.

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By default, voice messages expire after 2 minutes of listening. But you can choose to keep/save voice messages.

How to Send Audio Messages Using Voice Memos App

While recording, tap anywhere on the black recording card, to open this in full screen. Now you can pause your recording and resume it conveniently.

  1. Open the Voice Memos app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap the red button to record a voice note.
  3. Tap the red square button when you finish recording the voice clip. If you are on full screen, tap the pause button and then hit Done.
    iMessage Keep Kept 3
  4. Tap the three dots icon below the latest New Recording.
  5. Then, click on the share button.
    iMessage Keep Kept 5
  6. Next, tap Messages. If a bubble icon with an upward arrow appears, tap on it to add the voice message.
    iMessage Kept 6

This will successfully share a voice note on iMessage using the in-built Voice Memos app. Now, open the Messages app and continue your conversation.

The above two steps are on the iPad and Mac as well to share a voice message. In both these methods, we used the in-built Apple apps. But you can also use third-party recording apps in place of the Voice Memos app to send an audio iMessage.

Save Audio Messages One by One

Although you only have two minutes before an audio message expires, you can save it as long as you’re quick. As soon as you listen to a received audio message entirely or send one, a “Keep” option will appear underneath it. Tap on it, and the audio message will be kept forever in that conversation thread. Any other audio messages you receive or send will continue to be self-destructive unless you decide to “Keep” those as well.

Alternatively, if it’s a message you received, you can start listening to it via raise-to-listen or by tapping play, then remove the iPhone from your ear or tap the pause button, respectively. The message will look like it was only played partway, and when you leave the app or the iPhone sleeps, then you go back in, it’s like you never played it at all.

How Self-Destructing Audio Messages Work?

Before we get into disabling the self-destruct feature for audio messages, it’s good to know how audio messages behave by default.

iMessage Kept

First, to make an audio message on an iOS device, you tap and hold on the mic button, speak your message, then let go. If it’s how you want it, tap the cloud icon with the up arrow in it. Otherwise, tap the (X) to delete it and try again.

  • Sending audio messages: When you send one via iMessage, a two-minute timer starts immediately for you with the default settings, but for the other person or persons in the chat, the two-minute countdown begins once they listen to the message entirely, unless they’ve changed their settings. Recipients can start listening to a voice message either by tapping play or raising it like a phone call with their ear against the top speaker.
  • Receiving audio messages: When you receive an audio message from someone else, by default, the two-minute timer begins as soon as you listen to the voice message completely. You can start listening to a voice message either by tapping play or raising it like a phone call with your ear against the top speaker. An alert appears under it that says “Expires in 2 m” after the whole message is listened to. After the two minutes are up, the audio message erases from your device forever. For the person who sent it, it erases two minutes after they sent it, unless they’ve changed their settings.
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How to Keep a Voice Message?

By default, all audio messages in iMessage are set to expire automatically after two minutes.

But, from time to time, you may want to save audio messages that bring a smile to your face or explain important details. Here’s how to save audio messages on iPhone and iPad.

One method is to keep only the audio messages that you choose, and the rest are deleted after two minutes. Another method is to keep all audio messages forever.

To specifically save audio messages on the iPhone Messages app:

iMessage Keep Voice Message
  • Open Messages and tap on a conversation.
  • Send an audio message. Immediately, you’ll see Keep below the audio note you just sent. Tap it, and this particular audio message will not be deleted after two minutes.

Once you get an audio message, play it by tapping the triangle button. After you play it, you will see the word Expires in 2m. Once around 30 seconds pass, you’ll see an additional option—Keep. Tap it to save this audio message.

Now, after two minutes, this particular audio message will not get deleted.

How to save all audio messages on iPhone and iPad

  1. Open Settings on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap Messages.
  3. Under AUDIO MESSAGES, tap Expire.
  4. Choose Never.
iMessage Voice Message Keep

Now, all audio messages that you send and receive will not be deleted. They will be ‘saved’ in the conversation, just like other texts, images, and videos.

If the recipient taps “Keep” then the message will be saved in their iMessage conversation history, and the sender will see a “Kept” notification to let them know that the recipient chose to keep the message.

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Likewise, if the recipient has their iPhone set up to keep all audio and Digital Touch messages, with the expiration set to “Never”, then any messages received will be automatically kept with no further action required on the recipient’s part. The sender will still see a “Kept” notification to let them know.

Note that from the sender’s perspective, there’s no direct way of determining whether a user explicitly kept an audio or Digital Touch message or whether they’ve simply set their iPhone to keep all messages, although if you only see “Kept” below some of the messages you send them, that would likely be a good indicator that they’re saving those messages explicitly, rather than by default.

Your friend will have it in their message thread until they listen to it, and then the phone will either remove it after 2 minutes or keep it, depending on what their setting is.

What you see in your message thread isn’t in any way linked to what your friend sees in theirs. Each device that has the message handles deletions independently of the others.


When you press “keep” on an audio message, what you’re doing is telling your phone that you would like to keep it inside that text message and not be automatically deleted. It does this because audio and video messages may take a lot of space on your phone, so they make it like that to keep you free from excess clutter. You can control how long you want your phone to “keep” your audio and video messages by going to Settings > Messages > Store Messages.

Digital Touch messages take up more space than a simple text message, so you might not want to keep them around too long.

Audio messages can be fun, meaningful, and memorable. And if you want to make sure they don’t disappear, following the above steps lets you replay them when you choose.

iMessage is an end-to-end encrypted method of sending free messages between iPhones, iPads, Macs, and Apple Watches. Since its launch in 2011, it has shown itself to be a leader in its field and battled off competitors like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Viber.

If you’re looking to send an audio note, the recipient must be using iMessage, either on an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac, otherwise, the microphone icon will not appear next to the message input box

Finally, you are not limited to the Messages app only. You can use one of the best iMessage alternatives to send and receive audio messages. However, you and the receiver both need to install and use that particular app to exchange voice notes.

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