I use to store older backups of my iPad, iPod and iPhone made using iTunes.

So, as long as some data (i.e: photos) is stored on one of these backups, I feel free to delete it on the devices.

If, in a future, I need only some specific data (say music, document, video, email... etc), may I access to the backup to...? :

  • Browse it to see what is there inside.
  • Extract some specific info.

If yes, what kind of data could be extracted? :

  • Only files like photos, videos or documents?
  • Or is it possible to dig for some more complex data like SMSs, notes, emails, phone lists... etc?

Remember that I don't want to restore any backup. I just want to look inside it. Also, I don't want recommendations on software that reads the files. I'm looking for how to understand what's on the filesystem.

  • We are getting some spam on this. Would you mind editing this down. Perhaps asking where the files are stored or asking how to access one specific item would be best. If you want software recommendations - late make that a proper request or rule it out. This is a honeypot for people pushing software for the task of automating the process of harvesting backup files.
    – bmike
    Oct 10, 2015 at 16:47
  • @bmike, I don't understand where is the problem on asking for some backup files browser. Why should it generate any spam? The question is not about "where the files are stored", nor "access one specific item" (whatever that could be). I am not asking for "software recommendations", but for any method to "access to the backup to browse or extract" my data. Oct 10, 2015 at 20:50
  • Perfect. If you want to edit that into the question we can remove the hold. I'm not deleting the question so it only needs to remain open if you want more answers. Asking a more specific follow on question would work well too. Thanks!
    – bmike
    Oct 10, 2015 at 21:00
  • Edited, @bmike. I hope the question to be more clear now. Oct 11, 2015 at 0:10
  • Now the problem is all the answers are what you say you don't want (i.e. software recommendations.) I'll ask the other moderators to look - we might just choose to close this and let you ask a follow on question if the spam keeps coming for recommending software to do the job...
    – bmike
    Oct 11, 2015 at 0:13

2 Answers 2


Yes! It is possible to view the contents of backups. There are several programs you can use, the one I use is iExplorer v3.

You can view and extract:

  • Messages
  • Contacts
  • Voicemail (though I have not tried this)
  • Call history
  • Notes
  • Safari (bookmarks and history)
  • Calendar
  • More if you are willing to dig into folders

The free version allows you to view the contents, but has restrictions on extracting them.

There is also iPhone Backup Extractor which does:

  • Photos
  • Recordings
  • Again, perhaps more

This is also a free / paid app, so have a look at what you need.

Hope this helps.


Even when suggestions from @OrangePeel are good, if you don't want to pay to browse WhatsApp conversations, this is your best bet: FonePaw's iPhone Data Recovery.

The trial version (15 days) seems to have full features, not like iPhone Backup Extractor, that only extracts 4 lines from WhatsApp.

The rest of options are very complete too:

enter image description here

  • this is NOT FREE
    – user956584
    Mar 29, 2018 at 0:19
  • Indeed, it is not free (neither is iPhone Backup Extractor). So I referred in my answer «The trial version». But you can have 15 days of full featured functionality, that, for many (i.e: extracting some specific data) could be enough. Mar 29, 2018 at 10:05
  • @SopalajodeArrierez Not anymore, unfortunately
    – John
    Jul 8, 2020 at 15:11

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