How to Export Your iPhone SMS As CSV To Your Mac

Usually, we use iTunes to back up all the SMS from our iPhones. If you have jailbroken your iPhone, there is another option of exporting all the SMS in CSV format (comma-separated values). You can even import the said file to your other mobile devices should you stop using your iPhone.

All the SMS or text messages inside your iPhone are handled by a database. Jailbreaking your iPhone open the possibility of manipulating your SMS database and export all the data within. The CSV file can also be accessed using Microsoft Excel and equivalent program.

This tutorial will walk you through the process to backup and export your SMS as a CSV file to your Mac.

Download the Tools Needed

These are the tools you will need for this tutorial.

1. iPhone Explorer

2. SQLite Database Browser

These tools are available for Mac and Windows platform; make sure you download the correct version.

Backup SMS Database

Connect your iPhone to your Mac through USB.

1. Launch the iPhone Explorer and navigate through “/private/var/mobile/Library/SMS.“.

2. Look for the file SMS.db and download it to your Mac.


Export iPhone SMS

1. Launch SQLite Database Browser you have downloaded a while back.

2. Click “File -> Open Database“. You will then be asked to choose a file to open. Navigate through the directory where you have download SMS.db.


This is an example of the structure of iPhone SMS database.


3. When SMS.db is open, you can export it the way you want. Click on “File -> Export” and choose “Table as CSV File“.

4. You will be prompted to “Choose table to export as CSV text“. Choose table name as “Message” and click on the “Export” button thereafter.


5. You will then be asked for the location to save the CSV file. Locate the directory you want to save it to and give it a filename.


6. Try to open the CSV file with iWork’s Numbers or Microsoft Excel to manipulate the data inside. When you open it, you will see a few columns with corresponding values. You can actually edit those values and save the file as CSV, still.


The point of this tutorial is to help you backup, export and even import all your SMS data to your other devices. Or, you can also use this method to archive your text messages for future reference, that way, you will not be able to lose messages you treasure most.

What other way do you use to backup your iPhone’s SMS?

Image credit: Frank Spin


Harold is a techno geek who writes Technology News. While technology is his passion, he also writes about travel tips, iPhone how-to's and other fresh news on the web. He is even very active in a News Community which seeks to bring the latest news for online readers around the world.


  1. If you are looking for a tool to view and export your contacts, text messages (sms) your calendar entries and more then check out ‘iTwin’ from here: A neat PC program with many features, that Apple should have already included into iTunes but never did. Rock stable, easy and a ‘must have’. Cheers …

  2.  I’m one of the developers for Decipher TextMessage ( This is a great article for folks who want to dig through their text history in gory detail, but if you’re looking for a more automated solution for saving your texts (and attachments like photos and videos) to your Mac or PC, I hope you’ll take a look at our website!

  3. The date is in Unix format which shows the time in seconds since the Unix epoch (which was 00:00:00 UTC on 1 January 1970). You can interpret the date in excel for example using the formula 
    =(([cell reference of unix time]/60)/60)/24)+DATE(1970,1,1)
    This will get you the time and date for UTC

  4. Great info. I just got this Mac iPhone SMS Backup program to help. Works great also.

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