How to Backup iPhone Text Messages on Windows

If you want to backup iPhone text message on Windows, here is a free method to do that, first we access iPhone SMS database file then view or export iPhone text message from it SMS.db file using SQLite DB browser and then backup iPhone text messages as .csv file / Excel spreadsheet.

Backup iPhone Text messages or Export iPhone SMS

Step-1

First you need to access iPhone files, to browse the iPhone files and folders you have to SSH into iPhone. If you didn’t SSH into your iPhone yet, Follow this guide: how to SSH into iPhone and then come back here on the next step-2.

Step-2

When you successfully connected to your iPhone using WinSCP on Windows,navigate to the following folder in WinSCP : /private/var/mobile/Library/SMS/ this folder is sms.db location which contains all your iPhone Text Messages in SQLite Database format.

navigate-to-sms-db-folder

Step-3

Just copy and transfer this “sms.db” file on your computer desktop.

copy-sms-db

SMS.db on your computer desktop.

sms-db-file

Step-4

Download SQLite Database Browser and extract it.

extract-sqlite-database-browser

Run “SQLite Database Browser” .EXE file from extracted folder to run SQLite DB Browser.

run-sqlite

Step-5

Click “Open Database” icon to open the saved “SMS.db” file.

open-sms-db-file

Choose “SMS.db” file that we have saved in step-3.

choose-db-file

Step-6

To view your iPhone SMS, click on “Browse Data” tab and select “message” table from table drop down menu as shown below.

browse-data

Here you can view all iPhone text messages with Address, Date, Text and some other information.

messages-table

Step-7

Export iPhone text messages, click on “File” menu, select “Export” and select “Table as CSV file” option.

export-all-text-messages

Step-8

Select “message” database table from “Table name” drop down menu and hit Export button.

export-sms

Step-9

Type file name with .csv extension and hit “Save” button.

save-as-csv

After success this will prompt with Export completed message.

export-text-messages-completed

Here you have your all iPhone text message in CSV format, in other words iPhone SMS in Excel Spreadsheet. You can view iPhone text messages CSV file in Microsoft Excel, Google Docs, or in other free CSV viewer.

exported-sms-file

See also:

22 comments… add one

eTulip September 25, 2010, 12:29 am

I have Mac can you tell me this method to backup sms on mac

c.s.s September 26, 2010, 12:45 am

Its a bit tricky to save iPhone SMS in Excel file, nice post. thanks.

xantilon September 28, 2010, 8:19 am

This way you cannot read the dates. For me it is important to see when I got an SMS. Another thing is that SQLiteBrowser(2.0) does show chinese characters in the messages, but is not able to export them.

trickYguY September 28, 2010, 9:17 pm

There is a Date column in CSV file that we have saved using SQlite Browser. But the date is in different format, you can convert it to actual date by applying a formula in Excel.
If you are excel expert this will not be difficult for you, just create a new column on the left side of “Date” column and apply this formula =(((D2/60)/60)/24)+DATE(1970,1,1)+(-5/24).

If you don’t know how to apply formula follow the steps:
- Open the CSV file in Excel
- Click on column “C” (Date column), Right click > ‘Format Cell’ > change format to ‘Text’, Click OK.
- Insert a new column on the left of column “C”, Right click on column “C” > Insert (this will all a new column).
- Change the cell format of newly add column, Right click > ‘Format Cell’ > change format to ‘Date’ (mm/dd/yyy), Click OK.
- Click on cell “C2″ and paste this formula =(((D2/60)/60)/24)+DATE(1970,1,1)+(-5/24) in the Function “fx” text box above and hit enter.
- Now you can see in cell “C2″ the value is changed to a proper date format.
- To apply the this function to all rows of column “C”
- Select the cell “C2″, move the cursor to the right bottom of this cell, when cursor converted to black + sign, click and drag to the end of column, this will copy the formula to all rows.
You are done!

Dv0rsky May 9, 2011, 6:50 pm

somehow the formula didn’t worked for me :(

mikalsen November 25, 2011, 5:45 pm

all the text is in just one single column (like A1), therefor i cannot apply the formula.. :/ how to make it save in several columns? thx, Thomas

KeNSei December 12, 2011, 6:03 am

This formula does not work for me… When i write this ,
=(((D2/60)/60)/24)+'date'(1970,10,1)+(-5/24) and then Enter i get this #REF!

But, if i write only this, =(((D2/60)/60)/24) and then Enter i get this ###

Can someone help me with this?
Thnx

Keith October 3, 2010, 12:14 pm

This guide works to backup iPhone text messages on Windows but I also want to know how can I backup iPhone text messages on Mac?

Katrina October 5, 2010, 2:08 am

I backup iPhone SMS on Windows with this guide

Win November 1, 2010, 8:49 pm

This is a little bit techy. For me, I prefer to use some iPhone sms backup software like tanse-iphone-transfer-sms.

trickYguY November 2, 2010, 4:09 am

This SMS backup software is not free, full version price is $19 approx.

urfriend November 25, 2010, 11:22 pm

Thanks alot for such a lovely trick

Melissa July 1, 2011, 11:26 pm

THANK YOU!!! That was SO helpful, and easy to follow (right down to fixing the dates), and the program was better to use than any other sqlite I tried downloading prior to this one today.

Thanks!!

Kristi October 10, 2011, 4:34 am

Hello I just wanted to say this was very helpful but I have a quick question about the formula to fix the dates. When I enter the formula it only gives me one date, not the many different dates I expected down the whole column. Do you have any idea what I might be doing wrong?

Anubhav November 29, 2011, 10:53 pm

Hey…i seem to be having a problem :(
My SQLite browser is not reading anything from sms.db file. dunno what to do. running win 7.

shray December 3, 2011, 5:04 pm

how do i restore it back to iphone???

rocky January 8, 2012, 1:06 pm

It is an awesome post, it was hard to find sms.db, add a few lines about it also.

Thanks

joe February 14, 2012, 8:30 pm

Is this applicable for the 4S?

mike March 10, 2012, 10:57 am

I have the same prob as Anubhav – I am running iOS 5.0.1 and Win7

Keith July 6, 2012, 4:29 am

I have the same issue with a blank sms.db. I have tried Navicat also it it gives the error that the database is blank or encrypted. I am using 5.1.1

Justino July 29, 2012, 11:44 pm

My SQLite browser is not reading anything from sms.db file.
I am running iOS 5.0.1 and Win7
Same problem as Keith.
Care to enlighten me with another solution?
Thanks in advance.

Keira November 12, 2012, 2:26 am

The data is extremely important.

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