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I have an iPhone 6s, and there are some very, very, long text message conversations on there that I'd like to be able to read through on my PC for the sake of convenience.

I've already backed up my iPhone to the PC, but the files are stored without a file extension, so I'm not exactly sure how to view them. I've tried opening some of the files in a text editor, but they seem to be either compressed or encrypted (even though I never selected the option to encrypt the backup when backing up the iPhone from iTunes) because it's just a chaotic mess of unusual characters.

I know there is software out there, which costs money and supposedly allows you to do this, but they don't look trustworthy so I thought this might be the place to post a question before taking any further action.

  • Windows version: 1903 (OS Build 18362.476)

  • iPhone 6s iOS 12.4.3 (but the text message histories date back to when I was also using other OS versions)

Does anybody know how I can view these backup files, ideally for free or with some freeware software that doesn't have malware, spyware built into it?

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iExplorer is the app I use on macOS both personally and professionally to access iDevices. There is a Windows version available as well. I've been able to extract text messages and associated images from these messages, too.

Disclaimer: I'm a very satisfied user of iExplorer and have no financial or other interests in Macroplant LLC.

  • Appreciate your input. So it's legitimate software? Don't need to worry about my PC's security when dealing with iExplorer? If I have to spend money, I will. But I'm hoping there's an alternative. I've read that the files may be SQLite files? – oldboy Nov 22 '19 at 22:00
  • Legitimate and powerful software. There's a trial version so you can try before you buy. – IconDaemon Nov 22 '19 at 22:37
  • Ahh ok nice maybe ill give the trial a whirl in the meantime. – oldboy Nov 22 '19 at 23:11
  • figured it out. it is indeed an SQLite file, and theres one specific file that contains all of the text message stuff. I downloaded the portable version of DB Browser for SQLite, opened the file, and it's all there!! – oldboy Nov 22 '19 at 23:38
  • Another well maintained commercial option is iMazing – John Keates Nov 23 '19 at 5:31
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I read the other day that the files are apparently SQLite files. This Wired article that I just read confirms that. Hence I also just downloaded the portable DB Browser for SQLite, opened the specific file that contains all of the text messages (C:\Users\[username]\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\a293c24c7e1b09dbc0117629de148a13b87013be\3d\3d0d7e5fb2ce288813306e4d4636395e047a3d28), and now have access to all of them. The only issue is that every single text message is lumped together in a single table, albeit I'm sure there's a way to organize it all.

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