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How can I export SMS text messages from my iPhone?

10 Answers 10

  1. Get /var/mobile/Library/SMS/sms.db
  2. It is now exported.

What format do you want the export to be? The existing format is sqlite, so you can convert it to ASCII like so: sqlite3 sms.db .dump > sms.db.txt

For step one, you can jailbreak and then scp, or you can just search your backup folder for the file, no jailbreak required.

If your phone is not jailbroken, look on OS X in:

~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/<long_hex_string>/

And, in my case, and according to various web sources, although not in all cases, is named:


To answer your other questions: Any OS, Free, Successful.

  • Great solution. I'm going to have to try this when I get home. Thanks!
    – Ciaocibai
    Jan 24, 2011 at 23:59
  • Thanks for the solution. I have a non-jail broken iPhone and was able to get what I needed. However, I'd also be interested in sans-Terminal solutions for non-technical folks if you've used any. Jan 26, 2011 at 16:30
  • Awesome solution. voted up
    – segfault
    Jan 18, 2012 at 22:08
  • any idea how I can find this file in ios6? I've asked here: apple.stackexchange.com/questions/80875/…
    – ptim
    Feb 3, 2013 at 9:20
  • The command, sqlite3 sms.db .dump > sms.db.txt is exactly what I was looking for. Thanks! Jun 27, 2013 at 15:39

AllYourTexts - free - Windows

Full disclosure: I'm the author.

  • Allows you to view SMS and MMS data from your PC
  • Supports exporting to plaintext or HTML files.
  • Shows you graph visualizations of your texting behavior over time.

I was looking for a solution to this myself and I was unhappy with the 3rd party offerings. I felt like they were overpriced or poorly designed, so I wrote my own.

  • After trying out AllYourTexts, i can honestly say that this is the most simple and easy to use software for exporting text messages. I've looked around the web for days trying to find a program that will export text messages AND iMessages for the iPhone, and I finally found it. As a computer geek, I highly recommend AllYourTexts.
    – user26487
    Aug 1, 2012 at 6:22
  • 1
    This is great! View, export and see status of your texting habits! Thanks much for your efforts.
    – SeanDowney
    Jun 26, 2015 at 3:51
  • 2
    Note: It's not yet compatible with iOS 10
    – Simon East
    Dec 27, 2016 at 5:22
  • Thanks for posting this. I looked at your Github repo and noticed the project hasn't been updated in almost a decade -- would it still work on newer iOS versions (15 and up)? Or is the project no longer active?
    – Raleigh L.
    Jul 31, 2022 at 18:29

I rely on PhoneView which you correctly note is a Mac OS X only paid solution.

It has always been updated very quickly by the developers each time a new iOS is released. I even received support several times for pre-release / beta versions of iOS and iTunes. Support emails are promptly answered and I have twice received custom builds from them to resolve issues using their product with pre-release iOS versions to assist me in managing the devices I use for iOS development.

I've used PhoneView to save data from a phone that iTunes said was broken and could only be erased and then restored. It's been a reliable swiss army knife for me filling in many gaps that iTunes and Xcode leave for managing iOS devices.

  • 1
    me too, its a fantastically handy piece of software, it was one of the first apps out there when it was called iPhoneDrive. I use it most of the time to bypass iTunes when loading content/backing up in game purchases.
    – Stu Wilson
    Oct 5, 2012 at 20:46
  • tried this but it doesn't work (macOS 11.2.1 + iOS 14.4)
    – Bowen
    Mar 15, 2021 at 19:33
  • @Bowen thank you. I will dust off my license and see if I get the same.
    – bmike
    Mar 15, 2021 at 20:55

I used CopyTrans Contacts for Windows (not sure whether it also operates on Mac) to export my iPhone SMS and iMessage text messages to my PC.

Here is where I found out about the tool: How to export iPhone SMS

I do not know the price as I used their free version to export all of my 100+ messages I think you have to pay if you want to export a really large number of SMS text messages.

export iphone sms

  • The link no longer is active.
    – Raleigh L.
    Jul 31, 2022 at 18:31

I'm on windows and I bought Decipher Text Message (Mac $7, Windows $10). It did the trick for my needs and backed up all my work sms messages from my iphone. My girlfriend uses it too however, she is on a mac. The cool thing is that the program also saved my sms images, which I hadn't even expected. Has anyone tried any of the other tools?? Curious about them.

  • This is a pretty powerful tool. Just checked it out, works fairly well for iOS 12.4.
    – user253440
    Aug 11, 2019 at 5:04

A windows software solution is Save The Message

The software is free (trial) however the costs after the 30 day trial are $9.99 for a basic account, $99 for a professional" account.


There are numerous tools (as linked elsewhere here), both free and expensive, to export message data. They all rely on interpreting data from an unencrypted iPhone backup. You can actually do this yourself if you're particular about how the data is exported.

The key facts are:

  • Your backup lives inside ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/{uid}/.
  • The manifest.db is an SQLite database mapping all the files in that directory to actual filenames on the device.
  • The Library/SMS/sms.db file on your iPhone is another database containing all the message and attachment data.
  • Combining the manifest and sms databases lets you query and export all the conversations and attachments from decrypted files in your backup directory.

I wanted to future-proof my exported messages (or make their contents human-readable and easily accessible), so I wrote a script to load these database, export the chats as JSON files, and archive all the attachments alongside each chat (message group).

The result is a kind of hacky but working (for me) tool that I've uploaded to GitHub: iPhone message export. This script might be a good starting point if you're interested in doing these backups yourself.

(The price is free, I've successfully tested on macOS with an iOS 14 backup. I think if windows backups are stored the same way, the same python code should work there as well.)

  • 2
    after searching for hours, Seth Johnson's script is the only solution I've found that works effectively (on any OS) without downloading any apps.
    – Matt
    Dec 28, 2021 at 19:25

Believe it or not, there's an app for that!

The app SMS Export ($4.99) will allow you to export your SMS to the software on both your Mac and Windows.

You can make a back-up of your entire SMS-database or export the SMS-messages to your computer:

You can converted SMS to HTML, CSV or Text. Then you can load your SMS into any program like Excel or Word and print them.


My destination for the export was a new Smasung Galaxy Note, so the Samsung Kies software (eventually) managed to import the SMSs from an unencrypted iPhone backup. Kies is free for Samsung phones. It was necessary to 'update drivers' from one of the menus in Kies before this worked for me. Kies also prevents me running Android File Transfer on 10.8, so I uninstalled Kies once the import was complete.

Otherwise, I've successfully used DiskAid on the Mac to export my SMSs to a flat text file. A useful reference, but I'd rather it exported a friendly (ie standard) SQLite database so I could easily use the data elsewhere.

DiskAid is $29.90 at the time of answer, but they also offer free educational licenses to folk with email addresses at tertiary institutions.

  • note, Kies got only SMSs, not MMSs (or at least, not the photos)
    – ptim
    Feb 12, 2013 at 6:48

I wrote a free, open-source tool to do this called imessage-exporter .

For iOS, you would point it at the root of an unencrypted iOS backup. It also supports macOS.

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