Backup SMS Messages

Have you noticed that virtually every aspect of the personal information on our iPhones can be restored individually via iCloud? Things like photos, mail, contacts, calendars, Safari bookmarks, and notes can all be individually recovered on a fresh install of iOS.

The one thing that sticks out like a sore thumb is text messages and iMessages. Sure, it’s possible to restore text messages if you’re willing to backup and restore the entire contents of your iPhone, but what if you wish to perform a fresh install of iOS and then restore messages?

Fortunately, backing up and restoring SMS texts and iMessages on an individual basis is possible, as long as you’re willing to take some time to follow our step-by-step guide.

Before doing anything, be sure that you have backups of your device either stashed away on iTunes or in iCloud.

Things you’ll need:

Step 1: Back up the iPhone containing the text messages that you wish to migrate to your computer using iTunes. Be sure to check the This computer option and ensure that you have the Encrypt iPhone backup option unchecked. Once the backup is completed, unplug the iPhone. The destination iPhone can be the same device, or a new device. If it’s the same device and you wish to start with a new slate, reset the iPhone to factory defaults after performing the backup. If it’s a new device just out of the box, go through its initial setup until you arrive at the iOS Home screen.

Old Backup Completed

Step 2: Connect the destination iPhone to your computer and open iTunes. Perform a backup just like you did in Step 1. Keep the iPhone connected to your computer, and keep iTunes open.

Destination Backup

Step 3: Launch iBackupBot and select your just-created backup under the Backups section (you can verify by comparing the time stamp of the last backup in iTunes). Click the disclosure triangle next to the name of your backup, and click User Information Manager.


Step 4: Click the Messages Tab, and click Import. You may be asked to select the backup that you wish to import from. If so, select the backup of the device that we created in Step 1 and click OK.

Step 5: Click OK on the Import Messages box.

Import Messages iBackupBot

Step 6: On the Import File box, click the check box that says Do this for all conflicts and click Yes.

Import File iBackupBot

Step 7: Click OK on the dialogue box stating that messages and attachments have been merged with the backup.

Merged Backup iBackupBot

Step 8: Close iBackupBot.

Step 9: Switch back to iTunes, and click Restore backup, select the same backup that you last created in Step 2 and click Restore.

iTunes Restore Backup

Step 10: Your iPhone will restore from backup, which will include the text messages merged in via iBackupBot.

Step 11: Once the restore is complete, open the Messages app to ensure that all of your messages have been migrated. The messages should include all attachments as well. You may need to restore your contacts via iCloud or other service in order to match messages with contact names.

Video walkthrough

Congratulations, you should now have your text and iMessage messages restored on a clean iOS install. Yes, the process is a tad convoluted, but it’s nice to have the option of keeping text messages while still being able to enjoy a fresh install of iOS.

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About the Author

Jeff Benjamin

Jeff produces videos, walkthroughs, how-tos, written tutorials and reviews. He takes pride in being able to explain things in a simple, clear and concise manner.