How To Download Text Messages From iPhone

5 min read

Conversations are living documents; always changing, evolving, and renewing as we communicate with one another. Most iPhone users take for granted that iCloud and the iMessage server will sync and save those chats, but it’s not foolproof.

Those with multiple devices – iPhones, iPads, and Macs more specifically – understand conversations don’t always sync up. A chat on iPad sometimes fails to make it to the iPhone. Even entire snippets of conversations can go missing!

Rather than risk losing important data shared via chat, save your messages and conversations when it’s clear you need to retain information for posterity. We’ll show you how to download text messages from iPhone, how to save text messages, download iPhone text messages to your Mac, export text messages from iPhone to any storage device, and which apps make the process quick and easy.

Transfer Messages from iPhone to Computer

You could create an entire backup of your iPhone – and you should – but if you’re looking to save your iMessage conversations exclusively without creating a full backup each time, look to AnyTrans.

AnyTrans is an excellent app for creating full backups but stands apart in its ability to backup and save photos, music, videos, apps, and messages individually. (In fact, before you can download and save your Messages with AnyTrans, you’ll need to create a full backup of your iPhone!)

You can also migrate any saved data to a new device with AnyTrans or save it to your Mac or storage device for safe keeping. 

Here’s how to save text messages on iPhone with AnyTrans:

  1. Open AnyTrans on your Mac
  2. Plug your iPhone into your Mac with a Lightning cable
  3. When you see an image of your phone appear in AnyTrans, tap the “Messages” icon on the right side of the app window
  4. backup text messages iphone

  5. Select the message threads you’d like to save
  6. Click the “to Mac” icon at the top right of the AnyTrans window

download backup text messages

That’s all it takes! Your messages will be saved to your Mac, where you can tuck them into a folder or offload them to an external drive. 

Transfer, Backup, and Restore Your Social Messages

AnyTrans also allows you the option to backup, transfer, or restore conversations from popular social media chat services WhatsApp, LINE, and Viber.

Here’s how to backup social media messages with AnyTrans:

  1. Open AnyTrans on your Mac
  2. Plug your iPhone into your Mac with a Lightning cable
  3. When you see an image of your phone appear in AnyTrans, tap the “Social Messages Manager” icon on the left side of the app window
  4. Choose “Back Up Now” under the social media app you’d like to backup
  5. backup whatsapp messages

  6. Enter your credentials for the app you’re backing up
  7. Tap “OK”
  8. Select “Next” at the bottom of the screen

Now our WhatsApp messages are backed up. Transferring and restoring are similar workflows. Just know that you must first backup your messages from the device you want to restore from before adding them to a new device – and both devices must be plugged into your Mac for this process to work. Here we are adding a WhatsApp chat from a previously backed-up Android handset.

Here’s how to transfer social media conversations with AnyTrans:

  1. Open AnyTrans on your Mac
  2. Plug your iPhone into your Mac with a Lightning cable
  3. When you see an image of your phone appear in AnyTrans, tap the “Social Messages Manager” icon on the right side of the app window
  4. Choose “Transfer” under the social media app you’d like to restore messages from
  5. Select “Next” at the bottom of the next screen

backup whatsap messages iphone

Your WhatsApp conversations will begin transferring between devices.

So what happens if you just want to restore a previously saved conversation? You may have guessed already that you need to click the ‘restore’ option in AnyTrans! Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Open AnyTrans on your Mac
  2. Plug your iPhone into your Mac with a Lightning cable
  3. When you see an image of your phone appear in AnyTrans, tap the “Social Messages Manager” icon on the left side of the app window
  4. Choose “Restore” under the social media app you’d like to backup 
  5. Select the message backup you’d like to restore to your iPhone
  6. restore messages iphone

  7. Tap the “Next” button at the bottom of the screen

Your backup will restore to your device!

Screenshot your Texts

A good old fashioned screenshot may do the trick if you just need to save a small piece of a chat, but know this only creates an image of the screen, and doesn’t log your chat anywhere. If you’re asking yourself “how do I copy an entire text conversation on iPhone?” know screenshotting is definitely not what you’re looking for.

iphone screenshot text messages


There are apps out there which will take screenshots and stitch them together, but those are also woefully poor for entire conversations. They limit the number of screenshots that can be stitched, and the more screenshots you add the smaller the overall image size will be, making it harder to read.

Here’s how to backup text messages on iPhone with a simple screenshot on an iPhone with Face ID:

  1. Simultaneously press the side and volume up buttons
  2. Release both buttons quickly

After you take a screenshot, a thumbnail appears on the bottom left corner of the screen. You can tap that thumbnail to edit or delete the screenshot, or swipe it left to dismiss it and save it to your Photos library. If you take another screenshot while that thumbnail is on-screen, it won’t show up in the next screenshot.

Here’s how to take a screenshot on an iPhone with Touch ID and a side or top button:

  1. Simultaneously press the side (or top) and Home buttons
  2. Release both buttons quickly

Bonus Tip: Clear Your iPhone Storage With Ease

Now that you know how to download text messages from iPhone for safe keeping anywhere you want, it’s time to think about the other files, folder, images, and such occupying space on your iPhone and Mac. More to the point, how many documents or pictures are duplicates, or plain unnecessary?

Gemini for iOS digs deep through your iPhone’s image library and distills all your photos into categories like blurred, screenshots, and more. It helps you quickly and easily delete large collections of images, or bulk delete several at a time without needing to dig through your entire library.

gemini mac

As you poke through the categories Gemini has created, simply tap “delete” at the bottom of the screen to remove them all from your library. All images are pre-selected, so tapping on photos you want to save is critical so you don’t inadvertently delete them (but if you do, they’ll be in the ‘trash’ folder of your Photos app for 30 days, so it’s not as bad as it seems!).

Gemini for Mac focusses entirely on duplicate files and photos, but also looks through your image library to find like photos. For those occasions you snapped a series of pictures in succession to use the best one for sharing with others, Gemini will offer to remove duplicates so you can keep the absolute best photo.

For the files on your Mac, Gemini discovers both photos and files or folders which may be the same. It’s a great way to clear space on Macs with limited storage. Gemini is also the best app to have on your iPhone or Mac before creating backups free of unnecessary documents or images. 

Conclusion

Creating full backups of an iPhone will automatically save your chat history. Routine backups are something we should all be doing, too.

We also advise anyone who wants more direct access to their chat history should back up conversations as often (or more frequently) than they backup their devices. A separate chat history backup makes it easy to reference old or historically important chat conversations.

Gemini is a great way to eliminate unnecessary files on Mac and iPhone before a backup, and there’s just no better backup manager than AnyTrans. Both are available for free during a seven-day trial of Setapp, the world’s biggest and best suite of native apps for your Mac. Along with these two incredible apps you’ll get immediate and unlimited access to over 100 others, many of which have iOS counterparts you can try as well!

When your free trial ends, Setapp is only $9.99 per month for access to all the incredible apps in its catalog, so why wait? Give Setapp a try today and liven up your Mac with a ton of great apps!


Get 210+ Mac apps for any job

Sign up to Setapp and try them for free.