Archiving Messages (formerly iMessages)

I’m curious if anyone knows of an easy way to archive a particular Messages/iMessages (not email) conversation (including attachments - pictures, videos, documents, etc.) on the Mac, before deleting it? Sure, I could do screenshots or manually Copy/Paste and save the attachments, but I’m hoping there’s a better/easier way.


This is one thing that I have used iMazing for the Mac for and it excels at it. I usually save it as a pdf and archive important conversations every few months.

I’m curious if anyone knows of an easy way to archive a particular Messages/iMessages (not email) conversation (including attachments - pictures, videos, documents, etc.) on the Mac

Years ago, I did this with PhoneView. It worked great. I haven’t used it in a long time (I made major changes to my messaging infrastructure, and now my messages are archived at the PBX level) but it appears to still be available:


@raykloss, I thought about this application, but it’s overkill for what I need. But, it may be one of just a few solutions, so I may have to hold my nose, and use it. :slight_smile: Perhaps I can find it on sale.

I don’t think you can archive iMessages at the PBX level, can you? They’re end-to-end encrypted, so the PBX will just see a load of ‘random’ data, as the messages don’t get decrypted until they hit the phone or Mac.

I assume this means you’re archiving SMS text messages (green bubbles). iMessage (blue bubbles) works via Internet data traffic and won’t ever touch your PBX.

Depending on how many threads you want to archive, copy/paste isn’t a bad approach. I just ran a test here. Opened Microsoft Word and Messages on my Mac. In Messages, select a conversation, then select-all (CMD-A) and copy. In Word, paste.

Everything seems to have come through OK. The only issue is that some photos were rotated incorrectly. I assume this is because Word didn’t recognize the EXIF field for camera rotation. But I could use Word to just rotate the image 90 degrees.

This should work fine for occasionally archiving an important thread. It clearly will not be adequate if you need to do a lot of this.

That’s correct; our text messaging is all SMS.

Plus one for PhoneView…does WhatsApp messages too.

There’s also iPhone Backup Extractor.

@frederico was hoping to review it, I think, before his health problems hit.

ICloud (blue) Messages and attachments are stored on a Mac in /Library/Messages. There is a chat.db file that seems to have the text and an Attachments folder that seems to have images and other attachments. I haven’t found a way to view the chat.db file (it might be encrypted) but the images can be viewed. Obviously you should not change these files but they could be copied somewhere else as a “backup” or for further analysis. I wouldn’t be confident about restoring a backup as it could corrupt Messages on the Mac.
I have used the Phoneview (Mac) app to view and archive content on my iPhone but have not tried using it recently, with the latest iOS and macOS.

There are some very old tips here:


I would second iMazing. It often can be found on sale. I have found it invaluable since recent iTunes updates have made it less useful for me in managing my device(s.)

For me a few of its features I appreciate are that it easily backs up my device(s), either wired or by wi-fi on a schedule of my choosing. I can archive Apps in case an update causes me grief. I can then easily restore a single App’s saved data.

As far as the original question regarding Messages I just had occasion to need some specific messages from a number of years ago. trying to go backwards years from within the Messages App would drive a person crazy. I used iMazing to extract the entire conversation going back to 2012 - all 5716 pages to a pdf. Opening the pdf it looks exactly like looking at my iPhone’s Messages App. Everything is there. Personally, I find that invaluable. iMazing has done all this seamlessly for me. I have tried a few other “extraction” style applications resulting in varying levels of success but none that I have tried can match iMazing.

One criticism I have of iMazing is the licensing format. You can enter the license a couple of times on your device but then it can lock you out and force contacting iMazing to allow a re-entry of the registration information. I suppose part of this is an effort to prevent piracy. A basic license is also only good for a single machine. Right now iMazing offers a universal license which allows two machines for about $50 USD but I would still think a better deal might be out there from a reputable re-seller.

Just my $.02

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