Bulk transfer of all messages from iphone 5S to Mac
April 3, 2017 6:28 AM   Subscribe

My phone is running out of storage space and I have more than 1GB of stored imessages. How can I most easily transfer them all to a Mac, so that I can choose the setting of only keeping messages for a short while to free up space and still not lose them? Any other tips for freeing up storage on the iphone are welcome, too.

Previous questions, the latest from 2014, suggest phoneview. Is that still the best?

While messages are the biggest contributor to data filling up the storage on my phone, other culprits such as headspace and audible are not far behind. Netflix also has a fair chunk listed under data, even though I don't download any films there. Should I just remove and reinstall these apps?
posted by meijusa to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Yeah, apple doesn't make this easy for whatever reason. I found the 'easiest' way to do this was to find a 3rd party app that legs you dig into the local backup of the phone. Once you have a 3rd party app to do this with, you just backup your phone (on whatever machine is running your local, updated version of itunes) you run the program to extract the backup, and then you can pick apart whatever you want.

Phoneview apparently still works fine, but I used iExplorer when I needed to do this (it was just the first one I saw). They all seem to cost a couple bucks, which seems obnoxious for such a simple task.

The only hiccup is that I'm pretty sure both programs only pull the text data, and not any media you've embedded in the conversation. One thing I only recently found out is that if you send a photo to a friend in imessage, it saves a copy of that photo in the imessage app, where it stays even if you delete the original. It can be a pretty huge memory suck. If your texts are super heavy with images or other media being sent back and forth, you can just delete the unwanted photos (or save them and back them up elsewhere) as an intermediate step between backing everything up and deleting everything. It's straightforward, and is outlined pretty well here.
posted by furnace.heart at 7:58 AM on April 3, 2017

Best answer: iMazing should be able to handle this.

Also, I've found that doing a backup of your phone, then Restoring from that backup clears up a lot of space. Evidently iPhones save a lot of junk which clogs up space over time. Doing a full restore from a recent backup gets rid of that "clogged up" space.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:13 AM on April 3, 2017

TouchCopy (not free) will back up everything on the phone, in a variety of formats.
posted by aramaic at 9:39 AM on April 3, 2017

Best answer: PhoneView continues to work just fine for me. (iPhone 6, iOS 10.1, macOS 10.11)
posted by LovelyAngel at 12:55 PM on April 3, 2017

iCloud storage helps. Especially for photos.
posted by oceanjesse at 9:27 PM on April 3, 2017

Best answer: I still use PhoneView. It does copy media along with text.
posted by actionstations at 10:29 PM on April 3, 2017

Response by poster: Got PhoneView and there is a setting that allows for media to be included; it's off by default, though. Thanks everyone, this freed up LOTS of space and I might be able to squeeze another year of usage out of my old-ish phone.
posted by meijusa at 11:27 PM on April 6, 2017

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