How to Copy SMS Messages From an iPhone to a PC

By Marissa Robert

Though iTunes makes it obvious that it saves contacts, calendar and other information via the tabs it shows and your sync options, one of the things it does not make obvious is that it also backs up call logs and text or SMS messages. It makes restoring all of the settings and options on your iPhone easy if there is a problem and you have to do a hard reset, or if you want to transfer your information to a new iPhone.

Step 1

Download and the newest version of iTunes onto your PC and double-click the .EXE file downloaded to install it.

Step 2

Launch iTunes from the "Start" menu and the "Applications" sub-menu.

Step 3

Plug your iPhone into your PC using the USB dongle and cradle.

Step 4

Locate your iPhone under "Devices" in iTunes and right-click on it. Click the option to "Back Up," which saves a variety of settings to your iTunes installation, including your SMS conversations.

Step 5

Navigate to the file with your saved text messages. The directories with this file may differ depending on which version of Windows you run, but it may be located in one of the following directories:C:\Documents and Settings\[your username]\Application DataC:\Users\[your username]\AppData\RoamingC:\Users\user\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\BackupThe file with your saved text messages is a SQLite database with a 40 or 44 character hexidecimal name. The file extension is either .MDDATA or .MDBACKUP.

Step 6

Right-click on the SMS messages database and open it with your favorite SQLite database editor or browser, including SQLite Maestro, RazorSQL or SQLite Database Browser. This allows you to see the information about the text messages as well as the texts themselves.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you want to restore your SMS messages onto another iPhone, plug the new iPhone into the computer, right-click on it in iTunes and choose the option to "Restore" it from your most recent backup. It also restores your settings, ringtones and other options.