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I have an extensive history of SMS messages going back to early 2013. However, it's taking up nearly half of my iPhone's storage space and counting. I understand that there's a feature that automatically deletes old messages after a specified period of time, but I'm somewhat put off by the implication that messages deleted in this way won't be recoverable even from iTunes backups. Frankly, I'm sentimental about this (not to mention that I occasionally need to dredge up years-old messages if discussing an old project).

My question is this: is there a way to permanently transfer my huge backlog of text messages onto my Mac, while keeping messages from the last (say) six months on my iPhone for portability's sake? This way, I'd be able to access old messages as needed, while minimizing the amount of iPhone storage space they take up.

I've tried a few third-party utilities (iExplorer, iMazing), but they don't seem to be able to do this kind of thing specifically. I'm working with an iPhone 5S, 14.91 GB, iOS 12.4.5, and an older MacBook Pro running Sierra. Thanks!

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Well, if this is not just a spam question for promoting some app then you have not many options without jailbreak I'm afraid.

iOS allows setting the timer to 1 year, so basically making a backup every 6 month and moving it to a safe location on an external drive should allow you to access messages from it with a free version of any backup extractor.

But I would still stick to the following flow (should be the easiest and most realistic):

  • Move all old texts in PDF or CSV with iMazing, iExplorer, or any other on your choice (personally prefer iMazing ;) );
  • Sort them by folders (Work, Private, etc.);
  • Delete texts from your phone, manually or just set expiration to 30 days (1 year if needed);
  • Repeat this once a year by adding new conversations to a folder named by year.
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  • All of this sounds reasonable! I'd probably end up making backups and then moving the backups to another location, probably on a disk image. Is there something more I can do with jailbreak, though? :) – Tamsin Adriane Feb 13 at 22:53
  • @TamsinAdriane Sorry, not an expert in jailbreak. Better ask on Reddit. – Minorite Feb 15 at 18:07

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