How to back up your iPhone’s text messages
When the iPhone 4S was announced, I knew I wanted one. My last upgrade was the iPhone 3GS a couple years ago and honestly, I was sold on the 4S’s 8 megapixel camera and 1080p 30 frames-per-second video upgrade. I haven’t shopped point and shoot cameras in a while, but $300 for a good camera that shoots 1080p video sounds like a good enough deal for me. And then you add on a phone, iPod, internet device and a borderline AI digital assistant, you’ve got a single device in your pocket that’ll do pretty much everything I need it to do. We have a new baby due in April, and as many photos I took and video as I shot with the first child, I like the idea of being able to snap all of those photos and take great videos from a single device.
I wasn’t the Apple fanboy who pre-ordered the iPhone 4S. I figured I’d wait a few weeks until the demand died down and I could just walk into the Apple store and pick up a new phone. The family and I happened to be in Katy this past Saturday (the day after the iPhone 4S hit store shelves) and I decided to just swing by the AT&T store, just for shits and giggles to see if maybe they had a few iPhones left in stock. I was surprised when the salesperson told me that she had plenty of 32GB and 64GB models in both black and white. I let her quickly sell me a black 64GB model. While we were there, we went ahead and upgraded my wife to a 16GB iPhone 4S as well (the 16GB had to be ordered).
But all that’s kind of beside the point. When I got my shiny new iPhone, I immediately synced it with my iTunes account and pretty much got everything how I wanted it (folders, apps, settings, etc.) I was almost ready to wipe my old iPhone 3GS to sell it when I realized that my new iPhone didn’t have my text message history. All of my previous text messages were still on my old iPhone 3GS (or hopefully stored as a backup on my MacBook).
After doing some scouring with the Google, I learned that your text/SMS messages are stored and backed up on your Mac when you do a backup of your iPhone via iTunes.
Your iPhone’s backup file on your Mac is located here:
If, for whatever reason, you can’t find your ‘Library’ folder, try pressing the ‘Option’ key when you click on the ‘Go’ menu item in Finder.
Your backup files should look something like this in Finder (click image below to enlarge):
What do you do with your iPhone backup files?
You should see a bunch of folders and a ton of individual files with non-descript names like “0b6dc57b11f9862d66c0a08f34c0786ddf6b6427”. Those are your backed-up files. Awesome, huh? What the hell are you supposed to do with those? Well, you can go through them individually and you might see a photo or two among the thousands of other files in that backup folder. You could get yourself some kind of SQLite browser and spend your precious time figuring that out.
What I found was a cool little application called Decipher TextMessage from DecipherTools. It takes all of those weirdly-named backup files, pulls them into a nice-looking, well-packaged user interface that lets you view, print, save and copy your text message archives onto your computer’s hard drive. I don’t necessarily want all of those old text messages on my new iPhone, but I do want those old text messages saved, if only for the sake of for posterity.
If you want to save your text messages from your iPhone before upgrading, you just can’t beat the $9.99 price tag for Decipher’s TextMessage. I was hesitant at first, but quickly reminded myself that someone took the time to bundle a slick and easy-to-use software application that does something really well, and saves folks time in researching convoluted ways to archive their text messages from their iPhones. You can buy Decipher TextMessage directly from their site or by clicking the Decipher TextMessage image below: