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I'm getting ready to wipe and sell my old 4th-generation iPod touch, and I'd like to get a human-readable copy of all of my iMessages before I do so.

So far, I've found two solutions, but unfortunately they both cost money:

  • imessage-backup.com - basically you upload a certain file from the backup and it does some processing on the backend to make it human-readable. $7.99 per backup file.
  • iExplorer can also grab iMessages. You can see them within the app, but it forces you to register ($34.99) to export them.

Obviously there is some way to extract the data. I opened up the backup file in a text editor, and I could see messages, but it wasn't really "human-readable." I tried opening the backup file in SQLite Database Browser (the format in which the iMessages are supposedly backed up in), but it came up blank.

Is there a free way (preferably on Windows or Linux) to export iMessages?

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    There's a SQLite database at /private/var/mobile/Library/SMS/sms.db that stores all of your messages (SMS and iMessage). – Andrew Larsson Dec 6 '13 at 17:56
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Have you tried extracting them from your back up file? See this link.

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It looks as if the open source IM client Adium can automate the process, if you've got access to a Mac that you can link (temporarily at least) to your iMessage account (you don't actually need to get the data off the iPod - Apple have done that implicitly).

With that in mind I'd take a look at this similar question: Export iMessages in human readable form for archival [my answer begins "Archiving" but there are several useful alternatives there].

I don't know of a straightforward solution that doesn't require the Mac -- I presume Adium's import process takes advantage of native access to various Apple libraries -- but if you're inclined the Adium source and developers might also offer some clues to a cross-platform solution.

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