Backup and View Your iPhone SMS Messages For Free

Update: this does not work for iOS 4 and up, due to iTunes encrypting the backed up files. There is an easy fix for all of those with jailbroken devices, however. Stay tuned for that update!

Lately I wanted to backup some of my text messages from my iPhone 3GS onto my desktop, but couldn’t figure out how to do that. After some quick research and some poking around, I was able to figure out how to view them quickly and easily.


I am not responsible if you screw something up on your computer. It’s not my problem if something breaks. Do this at your own risk (which should be pretty low, unless you’re one of those people that shouldn’t be allowed near a computer).

What you’ll need

Let’s Get Started

In a nutshell, the SMS system on the iPhone is just a carefully hidden SQLite database. All we have to do is find the file and open it up in the SQLite Browser.

  1. First, we need to locate the file that contains the SMS messages, which will be either:
    • 3d0d7e5fb2ce288813306e4d4636395e047a3d28.mdbackup
    • 3d0d7e5fb2ce288813306e4d4636395e047a3d28.mddata

    This will be in one of the following locations:

    • Windows Vista/7: C:\Users\[Your User Name]\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\[iPhone ID]\
    • Windows XP or lower: C:\Documents and Settings\[Your User Name\Application Data\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\[iPhone ID]\
    • Mac OS X: User > Library > Application Support > MobileSync > Backup >[iPhone ID]
  2. Copy this file to a new location to protect the file in case you accidentally screw something up (your Desktop, for example).
  3. Open up the new copy of the file in SQlite Browser, then select the “Browse Data” tab. Finally, select the “message” table from the “Table:” dropdown box

And that’s all it takes! From here, you can export this as a CSV via File -> Export -> Table as CSV so you can import it into Excel, or manipulate it however else you wish. If I get the time, I’m going to write a quick tool to nicely export the messages to PDF so that they look good instead of being in a table. But, it’s a nice fix for wanting to go through them on a computer, or do fulltext searches with the content.

iPhone 3.1 Firmware Issues?

Hey all, this post will be a shorter one. Not too much to talk about today, but I do have a bit of an insight into the new Apple iPhone firmware update.

After having my iPhone for the past month or so, I’ve found very few problems with it. In fact, I’ve never had a problem¬† yet.

Well, that’s not completely true. I’ve never had a problem until earlier this week, when the new firmware was released. After about 24 hours of running my phone, I noticed two significant changes. First of all, my battery life was dropping faster than a kid coming off of a caffeine high. Secondly, my phone took a whole 3 seconds (yes, three – I counted) to respond to the “slide to unlock” bar. Those were two things that I was not willing to put up with.

After doing some reading up on the subject, I noticed that I wasn’t alone. Some people blamed the firmware, while others blamed the users. I blame both; clearly the issue wasn’t universal. A hard reset (ie. not using the “slide to power off” slider) seemed to be a temporary fix, but I wanted something more permanent. It seemed the only way to fix this was to do a DFU factory restore. The only catch is that when your phone restarts, you have to create a new phone profile, and NOT restore an existing backup.

The process was relatively painless. I only lost a few photos and my text messages (I’d love to have a way of backing up text messages!), but aside from that I got all of my old data back after loading it on again.¬† The reset seems to have done the trick; here’s hoping it stays that way.

Decisions, Decisions

This August I have to deal with a problem that arises every three years.

Right now, I have about two months to decide what I will do with my cell phone. Although I currently have a Sony Ericcson w600i and am quite happy with it, it’s on its last legs and I’m starting to notice things that aren’t working properly. I’m also looking forward to jumping on the smart phone revolution.

I’m currently torn with what path I should take, however. Although I never would have said this a year ago, the iPod Touch is one of the coolest pieces of technology I have ever used, and therefore the new iPhone 3GS is one of the potential phone choices. I would prefer, however, something that I could write my own programs for. Google’s HTC Dream is also a fun phone. I have tried out a friend’s phone and was very impressed by it, although I was disappointed by the performance for simple things like smooth graphics on scrolling menus – something my iPod does better. Finally, there is the default of a Blackberry, but I was never quite sold on them on any particular point.

I’m torn between the Dream and iPhone for a number of different reasons. I’ve grown very fond of the iPhone for the intuitive design, smooth look, and functionality. There’s a lot of features which I’ve gotten quite used to; even things like the on-screen keyboard I am used to and have no trouble using anymore. That being said, I can definitely think of a few applications worth making, but Apple has cornered the development market for their product by forcing all users to develop on Apple systems only.

Of course, the decision on a plan depends on what phone I get and how much data I use. Although I could get away with a cheap $30 plan, I could go for something a little more impressive and get a hefty data plan, allowing me to stay connected wherever I go. Unfortunately, it looks like Rogers doesn’t offer cheaper plans with the iPhone, so I might be hooked in for a little more than I wanted to. Although I tried to price out some plans on the internet, it was really hard to figure out what would be the cheaper option. I don’t mind spending a little more up front for an overall cheaper plan, but I might have to go in to talk with a Rogers representative to figure out what is the best option for me. As always, I welcome suggestions and recommendations from the peanut gallery (ie. you) as to what route I should take. Personal experiences with this might prove to be more beneficial than the knowledge of a Roger’s representative.

On an off-topic note, a number of you have mentioned that the background should stay put on the site to make things easier on the eyes. I’ve heard your cries of pain and agony, and am working on it. It’s not as easy as just fixing the background with CSS. But, it’s in the works.