How to Clear Stuck Message Icon Counts

Dear Apple Tech Talk

I am a loyal Apple user and have a MacBook Pro, an iPad and an iPhone.  I love the iMessage app because I can see and respond to my messages from any of my devices.  Recently I noticed that although I have deleted all of the iMessages from my iPhone, and removed all of the conversations from my MacBook Pro, my Messages icon on my computer still shows one unread message.  I have deleted the icon from my Dock, and restarted the Finder but nothing seems to work.  Is there any way to clear the stuck message icon?

Thanks for your note.  Although all Apple products work great together, sometimes things can get out of sync.  In your case, the Messages app in Mac OS thinks you have an unread message even though you don’t.  Fortunately, this is an easy problem to fix.


First, make sure that you completely close out of the Messages app.  That means that you have not just closed the active window but the app is completely closed.  You will know it is closed if the black dot under the icon is not showing. We actually suggest that you close all apps before you go to the next step.

Next, open a Finder Window and go to Applications > Utilities and open the Terminal application.

Once in terminal enter the following command:

killall Dock

Press the Enter key.

You will see the Dock disappear for a few seconds and then pop back up to its original location.

The message count should now be gone.

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This problem is not limited to the Messages app.  We have also seen this happen to the icons for Mail and Calendar.  You can use the same process to correct them all.

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  • Avatar Pepsitoo says:

    This doesn’t work for Ipads. If you read the original message it specified ipads and iphone.

    Can you please answer the question?

    • Thanks for your note. We went back and read the original question and it clearly says, “my Messages icon on my computer still shows one unread message.” so I think we did answer the original question. But we’re still happy to answer yours.

      You are correct that this fix doesn’t work for the iPad because there is no way to rest the Dock in iOS. Several people have reported that going into Settings and turning off iMessage and then doing a reset of your iPhone or iPad will sometimes resolve the issue. If that doesn’t work, we suggest doing a full backup of your device using iTunes and then do a full reset of your iPhone or iPad. This will reinstall the software to the latest version and then reload your data, and should make the “stuck” message count go away.

      Hope that helps. Let us know if that fixes your problem.

  • Avatar flyboy_2 says:

    It’s case sensitive, so “KILLALL DOCK” will NOT work!

    You must use “killall Dock” instead.

  • Avatar P. Kissel says:

    Thanks for taking the time. Worked for me too!

  • Avatar Tony Lyna says:

    Worked for me thanks.

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