Copying one iMessage text conversation from your phone to my phone
February 11, 2020 2:59 PM   Subscribe

On my iPhone I accidentally deleted an iMessage exchange I had going with my husband (about three years' worth of conversation). He is alive and well but I am stupidly sentimental and despondent at the loss of this lovely record of our daily conversation. He still has the whole conversation in his iMessages on his phone. Is there ANY way to just copy the conversation from his phone to mine?

I know that in the most common situation--you buy a new iPhone and want to transfer everything from your old phone onto it--you'd just backup all of your old stuff to iTunes or the Cloud or whatever, and upload to the new phone. And then are apps like iMazing that let you export a conversation to PDF or text so you can save to your computer for posterity's sake and whatnot (which is what I'll settle for if needed).

But is it at all possible to just pull *one* iMessage conversation from *one* person's phone and copy it on to a *second* person's phone (again, not a second phone belonging to the same person) without a whole complicated backup scenario (where you would potentially wipe out everything on the second phone and replace it with all of the stuff from the original phone)? I guess the ideal solution would let me copy the conversation "file" over to my iPhone, and as we continue to send each other new messages, it just continues in that same exchange. (As I write this out it seems increasingly unlikely but couldn't hurt to ask!)
posted by lovableiago to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If all else fails, he could screenshot the exchange and transfer over the pictures.
posted by suetanvil at 3:35 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]

What happens when he replies to a message from you on that thread?
posted by bink at 3:36 PM on February 11

When you start a new convo with him, doesn't the message history reappear?
posted by Kitchen Witch at 3:43 PM on February 11

On his end, new texts appear in the same conversation as before. The first time he texted me after I deleted the conversation, it appeared as a new conversation on my end, without any of the message history.
posted by lovableiago at 3:48 PM on February 11

Boo, that's super dumb. :(
posted by Kitchen Witch at 3:54 PM on February 11

Unfortunately, you can't do what you're hoping to do natively :(

If you have a recent backup, you can restore to that backup and get all your conversations reset to where they were when you made the backup.

There are third-party apps that claim to be able to recover deleted iMessage conversations, but I have no experience with any of them and no recommendations.
posted by hanov3r at 3:58 PM on February 11

If your phone is set to backup automatically to iCloud, and you have Messages selected as part of that backup, you should be able to restore from the last backup, which could be just last night.
posted by yawper at 6:52 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]

The iPhone doesn't store each conversation in its own file; they're all combined into a single file called "sms.db". If you search Google for this filename you'll find some information about it. What you want to do is *technically* possible—you could make a backup of both your phones, use a tool that can read sqlite databases to get the data out of his sms.db and into yours, then restore the backup again—but certainly not easy.
posted by panic at 10:22 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]

I agree that restoring from backup and losing the last couple days-worth of texts to preserve 3-years' worth is probably the right way to go. Another option is to buy the Mac App "Phone View" and download Husband's texts to your computer. Then put that file on Dropbox or iCloud or wherever and you can scroll through them whenever you want. They look just like iMessages.
posted by mcgsa at 8:27 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]

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