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I have an iPhone 4 and I wanted to copy all my text messages off of it.

Is there a utility to do this under Ubuntu?
Or is there a way to access them through the file menu/cmd line?

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The text messages are stored in a database file (probably SQLite), probably encrypted too, so you'd have to somehow do a backup of the device and troll through the files to find it. – user3463 Jan 24 '11 at 23:45
sigh =/ that sounds like a pain.. I saw something about a OSx tool that will rip apart the binary a backup creates.. not too keen on doing that. Do you have an Idea where to find that SQLite db on the device? – madmaze Jan 24 '11 at 23:48
Not without jailbreaking the device. – user3463 Jan 25 '11 at 0:46


In any platforms, as long as you have a FTP program, you can easily transfer files to/from the iPhone via OpenSSH.

On you iPhone, go to Cydia. Tap on Section on the bottom pane and scroll to Networking->OpenSSH. Tap on the Install button to install it.

On your desktop, open up your FTP program (it doesn’t matter which one you use. For me, I used Filezilla because it is free and easy to use).

On Filezilla, go to File->Site Manager

On the left, click New Site

Rename the site to ‘iPhone‘

On the right, enter the following:

Host: Your iPhone IP address Servertype: SFTP – SSH File Transfer Protocol Logontype: Normal User: root Password: alpine

Click ‘Connect‘

You will be shown a confirmation message asking if you will accept key exchange / connection with the device with the iPhone’s address. You’ll need to click OK for it to connect.

Connected mode:

Once connected, you will see the familiar Explorer-like navigation structure. Simply drag and drop the files to and forth the iPhone.

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This would require @madmaze to jailbreak his iPhone. In principle, this is not necessarily "wrong", but it does open him up to potential problems in the future. – user3463 Jan 25 '11 at 0:45
thanks, but as @Randolph mentions my iPhone is not jailbroken and since its a work phone I will not be able to do so either. – madmaze Jan 25 '11 at 3:07
up vote 1 down vote accepted

I ended up using DiskAid.
It works great, but it cost me ~10$ and did everything I needed it to do.
Though I am still interested in a free way of doing this, without jailbreaking it.

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If Ubuntu has access to a dual-boot Windows partition, with iTunes synchronization : open your apple folder (somewhere inside c:\users...\appdata\Apple...\MobileSync/Backup// ) --> you should find this file "3d0d7e5fb2ce288813306e4d4636395e047a3d28"

Then open it with sqlite (eg sqlite firefox plugin), and execute this sql query :

select message.rowid,
case when then null else datetime(,  'unixepoch', 'localtime', '+31 years') end as sent,
case when message.date_delivered=0 then null else datetime(message.date_delivered,  'unixepoch', 'localtime', '+31 years') end as delivered,    
case when message.date_read=0 then null else datetime(message.date_read,  'unixepoch', 'localtime', '+31 years') end as read, 
case when is not null then else end as interlocutor,
case when message.is_from_me then null else message.text end as to_me,
case when message.is_from_me then message.text else null end as from_me,
attachment.filename as attach,
case when message.error=0 then null else message.error end as error_code
from message 
left join handle h1 on message.handle_id=h1.rowid
left join message_attachment_join on message_attachment_join.message_id=message.rowid
left join attachment on message_attachment_join.attachment_id=attachment.rowid
left join  chat_message_join on chat_message_join.message_id=message.rowid
left join  chat_handle_join  on chat_handle_join.chat_id=chat_message_join.chat_id
left join  handle h2 on chat_handle_join.handle_id=h2.rowid 
order by message.roWID

You'll have every messages (sms or iMessages) ready to export to a csv file.

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