Big Sur Message app - deleting conversations

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team
macOS and Mac Apps

I've noticed some odd behavior with the Message app since its Big Sur redesign, and wondered if anyone else had seen the same.

Deleting a conversation is particularly challenging. If I have focus on a conversation and open the Edit menu, Delete is grayed out. The Delete key, Backspace key, and Command+Backspace all have no effect.

To delete a conversation, I have to open the context menu and select Delete Conversation. But even this behaves in an odd manner. I can't simply up and down arrow through the menu, or use first letter navigation to jump to the Delete Conversation entry. I must use VO+Down Arrow to move to the entry. At that point, I should just be able to hit Enter, right? Nope. I have to press VO+Space to select that entry.

In short, deleting a conversation is harder than ever, and the only way I've found to do it is with a menu that doesn't behave like any other menu on Mac OS.

Anyone else seen this? Any explanation for why this is so ... un-Apple?



Submitted by Tyler on Monday, April 5, 2021

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Have you tried using the actions menu, accessed by focusing on a conversation and pressing VO-Command-Space? For me, I can use the up and down arrow keys and press Return to perform actions, but still can't use first letter navigation in this menu.

I suspect that because Apple is trying to emulate the version of the Messages app for iOS and iPadOS on the Mac using the, "Mac Catalyst," technology, certain concepts, like the actions rotor, which are immediately intuitive on iOS, have been incorporated in some fashion into the macOS app, even though there are other quicker ways to complete some tasks on the Mac. I'm hoping that in the future, Apple can work to bridge the gap between the behaviors of traditional Mac apps and apps ported from iOS and iPadOS to ensure a more consistent experience across Apple platforms.

Hope that made sense.

Submitted by Pyro2790 on Monday, April 5, 2021

I had brought this up on another thread about the I Messages re design. I'm not sure why in messages you can no longer press command delete to remove a message thread. This keyboard command still works to delete emails in the mail app, but no longer works in the messages app. I am not sure what the explanation is for this. I do find the process of deleting messages quickly difficult so most times I do it from my phone.

Submitted by Tyler on Monday, April 5, 2021

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

In reply to by Tyler

Another way conversations can be deleted is by opening the conversation you want to delete and choosing File > delete conversation. If you wanted to, you could map a keyboard shortcut to this command to replicate the function of the app in earlier versions of macOS in System Preferences > Keyboard.

Both the Actions menu and File > Delete Conversation are way better solutions than what I'd found. Thanks.

The rest is a rant, so stop reading now. LOL.

It's not clear that the new methods are any easier than the old. Ironic considering Apple's big marketing advantage over PCs back in the 1980s was ease-of-use.

Users are wary of updates and upgrades for a reason. Arguably, this thread-deletion change is a pretty insignificant issue. But every release seems to come with two of three such issues that are too minor to merit widespread discussion. As a result, every user is caught off-guard and spends time figuring out the new way to do something that was previously accomplished with a single keystroke. We face this worry with every update and upgrade.