Skip to content
This repository

Backup your iPhone SMS text messages.

branch: master
README.md

Description

Backup your iPhone SMS and iMessage text messages.

Works with iOS6 and iOS7.

(And, it continues to work with iOS5, if anyone still finds that useful...)

Why?

Your iPhone stores a copy of all your SMS and iMessage text messages in a sqlite database. But, if you want to view them all on your iPhone, it's not so easy. Be prepared to do a lot of scrolling.

Or, you can you use sms-backup.py to backup all your messages in text format, CSV format, or JSON, and then view them in the data viewer of your choice.

Plus, sms-backup.py cleans up and allows you to transform your data, in order to make your text messages easier to read.

Transformations possible with sms-backup.py:

  • Better date formatting.

  • Consistent formatting of phone numbers.

  • Replacement of phone numbers with names.

How?

Before running this script, you need to backup up your iPhone to your local computer. Connect it with a USB cable and launch a backup through iTunes.

Even if your iPhone is set to automatically backup to iCloud, you can still choose to "Manually Backup Up" within iTunes, which will do a one-time backup to your computer, and then resume the automatic iCloud backups.

Each time you sync/backup your iPhone, the SMS sqlite db file is copied to your computer.

When you run sms-backup.py, it finds the backup db file, makes a temporary copy of it, selects the text messages you want from the temporary copy, and then exports them.

Examples

$ sms-backup.py

2010-01-01 15:31:44 |             Me | (555) 555-1212 | I love donuts!!
2010-01-02 16:17:58 | (555) 555-1212 |             Me | I love a man who loves donuts!!!
2010-01-02 17:01:19 |             Me | (999) 999-1212 | I don't feel so good...
...

$ sms-backup.py --myname Tom \
                --alias "555-555-1212=Michele" \
                --phone "5555551212" \
                --phone "1112223333" \
                --date-format "%b %d, %Y at %I:%M %p" \
                --format json

[
  {
    "date": "Jan 01, 2010 at 03:31 PM",
    "from": "Tom", 
    "text": "I love donuts!!", 
    "to": "Michele"
  }, 
  {
    "date": "Jan 02, 2010 at 04:17 PM",
    "from": "Michele", 
    "text": "I love a man who loves donuts!!!", 
    "to": "Tom"
  }, 
  {
    "date": "Jan 02, 2010 at 06:00 PM",
    "from": "Tom", 
    "text": "Just checking in...where are you?", 
    "to": "(111) 222-3333"
  }, 
  ...

Usage

usage: sms-backup.py [-h] [-q | -v] [-a ADDRESS=NAME] [-d FORMAT]
                     [-f {human,csv,json}] [-m NAME] [-o FILE] [-e EMAIL]
                     [-p PHONE] [--no-header] [-i FILE]

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  -q, --quiet           Decrease running commentary.
  -v, --verbose         Increase running commentary.

Format Options:
  -a PHONE=NAME, --alias PHONE=NAME
                        Key-value pair (.ini style) that maps a phone number
                        to a name. Name replaces phone number in output. Can
                        be used multiple times. Optional. If not present,
                        phone number is used in output.
  -d FORMAT, --date-format FORMAT
                        Date format string. Optional. Default: '%Y-%m-%d
                        %H:%M:%S'.
  -f {human,csv,json}, --format {human,csv,json}
                        How output is formatted. Valid options: 'human'
                        (fields separated by pipe), 'csv', or 'json'.
                        Optional. Default: 'human'.
  -m NAME, --myname NAME
                        Name of iPhone owner in output. Optional. Default
                        name: 'Me'.

Output Options:
  -o FILE, --output FILE
                        Name of output file. Optional. Default (if not
                        present): Output to STDOUT.
  -e EMAIL, --email EMAIL
                        Limit output to iMessage messages to/from this email
                        address. Can be used multiple times. Optional. Default
                        (if not present): All iMessages included.
  -p PHONE, --phone PHONE
                        Limit output to sms messages to/from this phone
                        number. Can be used multiple times. Optional. Default
                        (if not present): All messages from all numbers
                        included.
  --no-header           Don't print header row for 'human' or 'csv' formats.
                        Optional. Default (if not present): Print header row.

Input Options:
  -i FILE, --input FILE
                        Name of SMS db file. Optional. Default: Script will
                        find and use db in standard backup location.

Notes on the Database

The discussion about the SMS/iMessage database has been moved to the project wiki:

Known Limitations

  • Won't find the backup sqlite db on Windows, but it should run if you pass in the db name with --input. (I haven't tested it, though...)

  • Assumes encoding of texts is 'utf-8'...and there's no way to change it.

  • Does not try to recover texts with photos. Just skips past them.

  • Does not handle group chats.

License

MIT License. Copyright 2011 Tom Offermann.

Something went wrong with that request. Please try again.