I have an iTunes backup of an iPhone, and I want to extract the contacts from there as a file, e.g., vcf or csv.

There are many advertised paid software packages. Is there any free option?

  • Did you try exploring the backup within finder?
    – JBallin
    Mar 7, 2017 at 7:38

4 Answers 4


Well, you can use this simple script I made half a year ago, but decided to publish when saw your question.

It renames all files to their normal names. After that you can find AddressBook in HomeDomain/Library/AddressBook/AddressBook.sqlitedb

It's not CSV, but quick look through it show that you should take a "person" from ABPerson table (ROWID, First and Last are the most interesting).
After that you look up persons in ABMultiValue table: ROWID acquired in previous step links to record_id, value has the actual value, and label seems to be really weird for me. I'd recommend you to take all values looking as numbers.

Hope you have some programming skills or know someone who can help you.
If not, I could look into making some kind of helper script for it, but can't promise anything.
Those shitty paid apps always made me angry, and I can't understand why is there no FOSS apps for recovering data from iTunes backups. Meh.


I use an app called iExplorer for this. I hear an app called PhoneView(?) does it as well, but I have never used it. You still need the encryption password though, there's no simple way to crack that nut.


Decipher Backup Browser exports the contacts to VCF from an iTunes backup file. It is of course paid, like the other options people are suggesting in the responses, though.


There is no difficulty,from iTunes Backup to recover iPhone contacts ,

  1. Open iTunes. First go to Edit > Settings > Devices to disable automatic syncing.

  2. Connect your iPhone to computer. Wait for a while, right-click your iPhone in the devices list and click “Restore from Backup”.

  3. Stay in the backup file contains contacts, click “Restore”.

After a few seconds, the lost contacts can be recovered back on iPhone

  • 1
    The OP wants to extract contacts from the backup, not restore the whole thing.
    – nohillside
    Jun 13, 2017 at 7:49

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