Teams Allows Users to Delete Chats

Teams Delete Chat Option Helps Users Cleans up Their Chat Lists

Message center notification MC466199 (12 November) announces the arrival of the Delete Chat feature in the Teams Chat app. When deployed, users can delete their access to 1:1, group, and meeting chats (except webinar events). This is Microsoft 365 roadmap item 90723. The code is scheduled to roll out in early December 2022 in the Teams desktop, browser (including the PWA client), and mobile clients.

After six years of Teams, it’s reasonably safe to say that many people have cluttered chat lists that have grown over time. In my post about seven habits for effective use of Teams, I recommend pinning your most important chats to the top of the chat list. However, over time, chat lists grow, and chaos begins to develop under the 15 pinned chats. The delete chat feature allows users to clean up their chat list by removing chats that are long since over or those that are no longer of interest.

The Teams Delete Chat Option

To delete a chat, select the […] menu and look for the Delete chat option (Figure 1). The option is available if permitted by the Teams messaging policy assigned to the user account (see below).

The Teams Delete chat option
Figure 1: The Teams Delete chat option

Before deleting a chat, Teams warns the user that “You need to delete anything that you’ve shared (files, tasks, etc.) separately.” In other words, Teams only cleans up its messages and leaves anything else intact. This makes sense because files shared in a chat, like the OneDrive files that underpin Loop components, might be used elsewhere (for instance, the user might have copied the Loop component into an Outlook message). If Teams removed everything, it could break a lot of things, so it’s better to leave well alone.

Deleting and Leaving Chats

All participants in a Teams chat share the chat’s message thread. Anyone in a group chat has equal rights over the content, meaning for instance that they can eject someone from the chat. When someone deletes a chat, they remove their access to the chat. However, everyone else involved in the chat retains full access and can continue collaborating in the chat.

Deleting a chat is different to leaving a group or meeting chat. When someone leaves a chat, they retain access to all messages posted to that chat up to the point that they left. In addition, the chat also remains in their chat list, so leaving a chat doesn’t help to clean up the chat list. The leave option isn’t available for 1:1 chats.

Hiding a chat removes it from the chat list but leaves the chat intact. However, if someone else in the chat posts a message, Teams unhides the chat and restores it to the place it previously had in the chat list. Hiding a chat is not a way to clean up the chat list.

Users who delete a group chat can rejoin it later if one of the remaining participants adds them to the chat. The rejoin happens automatically in 1:1 chats if the other person sends a message (essentially, this action starts a new chat). In all cases, when someone rejoins a chat, they do not regain access to previous messages, and they can only see messages posted after they rejoined the chat. There’s no way to restore access to the chats posted prior to the user deleting their access to the chat.

Administrator Controls

The AllowUserDeleteChat setting in the Teams messaging policy controls if users see the Delete Chat option in the menu. By default, the setting is True, meaning that users can delete chats. The setting is updatable through the Teams admin center or PowerShell. In this example, we list all messaging policies to review the setting:

Get-CsTeamsMessagingPolicy | Format-Table Identity, AllowUserDeleteChat

Identity                                    AllowUserDeleteChat
--------                                    -------------------
Global                                                     True
Tag:Advanced                                               True
Tag:Advanced Users                                         True
Tag:Restricted - No Chat                                   True

The set of policies contains a messaging policy that doesn’t allow access to the chat app. It makes sense to disable the delete chat option for the policy, which we do as follows:

Set-CsTeamsMessagingPolicy -Identity "Restricted - No Chat" -AllowUserDeleteChat $False

Many Ways to Control Chats

The Teams Delete chat option joins the other ways available to users to control their participation in chats. They can continue as normal, mute notifications, or hide, leave, or delete the chat. The subtle differences between each option might pass some people by. Some coaching might be necessary to help users understand how best to manage chats and chat lists.

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14 Replies to “Teams Allows Users to Delete Chats”

  1. It’s not explicitly stated but my assumption is that a deleted chat is only permanently removed from the user’s Teams chat list, and that no data is lost and thus deleted chats remain discoverable.

  2. Is there also a way to restore the chats like with emails ? A recoverable items folder for 14-30days ?

  3. Hi All. Can anyone confirm my experience, and maybe explain it? When I delete a chat, it will be removed from my chat overview, but when I start a new chat to the same person again, all the history will show up?

    1. When I delete a chat, the messages in the thread become invisible to me (they are still available to the other person). If I start a chat with the same person, the chat has no messages in it.

      1. I have the same behavior. History back after sending new message to deleted chat person

      2. Yesterday I saw the problem you reported. Today, I checked the chat and found that the previous history was no longer present. Can you check the chats that you deleted to see if the conversation history has gone? This might just be a timing issue…

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