SMS to PC export on iPhone
August 12, 2011 2:31 PM   Subscribe

Why doesn't Apple allow me to export my SMS messages to a file on my PC [3GS UK O2 iphone]?

Without jailbreaking, is there an app or program that does this safely & effectively [for a layman]?
posted by dash_slot- to Technology (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
For the PC? I dunno. For the Mac? Yes. Phoneview.
posted by adamrice at 2:36 PM on August 12, 2011

iOS stores your SMS messages in a SQLite database that can be manually extracted from your latest iTunes backup.
posted by Zozo at 2:38 PM on August 12, 2011

Response by poster: Um - just to reiterate: for the layman & for the PC.

And does anyone know why there is no app for it from Apple or integration into iTunes?
posted by dash_slot- at 2:49 PM on August 12, 2011

Response by poster: I'm using SQLite Database Browser from Sourceforge, but when I navigate to the file

C:\Documents and Settings\Mark\Application Data\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup

and try to open 1 of the many files there, as instructed I get an error:

"File is not an SQLite 3 database"

Any ideas?
posted by dash_slot- at 3:12 PM on August 12, 2011

Two reasons.

1. There is no API available to read the contents of your text messages because Apple consider it a security/privacy risk.

2. Because, like replaceable batteries, only a vocal minority want/need that feature.

FWIW I'd like the iPhone to be able to automatically go into vibrate when I have a meeting in my calendar but, sadly, that's a minority request too ("buzy" on Android does this great though).
posted by mr_silver at 3:54 PM on August 12, 2011

Have you encrypted the backups? If so, as far as I know, you can't read the database on the PC.
posted by khites at 4:14 PM on August 12, 2011

Response by poster: I just checked - the backup is not encrypted. So... it should work :(

Thanks for the comments me_silver, though i dunno about 'vocal minority'. Plenty of apps, programs & features are minority sports. This seems a really good & easy thing to do - the tech side is [apparently] in place for them who know SQL, the app just isn't there.
posted by dash_slot- at 4:39 PM on August 12, 2011

I have not tried it - but you might try TouchCopy. They have a free demo.
posted by nightwood at 6:39 PM on August 12, 2011

and try to open 1 of the many files there, as instructed I get an error

Sorry if this is me misinterpreting you, dash_slot, but that makes it sound like you're just picking one of the files in the folder rather than specifically the one that is called "3d0d7e5fb2ce288813306e4d4636395e047a3d28".

I hadn't heard of this method before so I just gave it a shot on my PC with a successful result. I don't know if the choice of software might have a bearing on things; I plumped for SQLite Expert Personal.
posted by MUD at 6:43 PM on August 12, 2011

Response by poster: Hi MUD - found the file! :) but i cannot read the messages in that program, i get a database readout. As I said, I am a layman, here's a screenshot: where & how do I get my messages?

nightwood - the free TouchCopy doesn't allow you to save, copy or paste the files, so its a good idea [tried it last night] but it doesn't do what I would like.
posted by dash_slot- at 6:08 AM on August 13, 2011

Nice one. Change to the "Browse Data" tab. Now use the dropdown box labelled "table:" at the top of that tab and choose "message". You should now see the info that you're after. The column "flags" tells you whether you sent or received the SMS - 3 for sent, 2 for received.

This table only has the phone number in it - not the Contact name. If you need that then it would require delving into another file (31bb7ba8914766d4ba40d6dfb6113c8b614be442) to get the Contact names paired with phone numbers - the former's stored in the "ABPerson" table and the latter in the "ABMultiValue" table so a wee bit of SQL would be needed. The results would then need to be exported from that database and imported into the original database so that you could use another bit of SQL to pair the names with the messages. All of which might be a bit more involved than you were really looking for?
posted by MUD at 7:15 AM on August 13, 2011

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