Saving Text Messages to Computer - Tutorial for Mac and Windows

Jay Walsh

Categories: iPhone | View Comments

How to save and export text messages in PDF format you can print them out or email them to any contact of your choice.

Tutorial Goal

This tutorial will give you an easy step-by-step guide on how to save and export your text messages and attachments (photos/videos) from your iPhone to your computer. After following these steps, you will have successfully saved your text messages and have peace of mind that a secondary copy of your SMS conversations are backed up safe and sound on your home or work computer.


Whether you send and receive iPhone text messages for personal or business reasons, there usually comes a day in most iPhone user’s lives when all of a sudden you need to quickly save your text messages to your PC or Mac. We regularly receive emails from people all over the world who need to save their messages. Some individuals want to export text messages from family members or a loved one. Other people often have a need to document business SMS messages for a company meeting or even for trial or legal proceedings. Whatever the reason, today's tutorial will help guide you through the quick process of transferring your text messages to computer. This tutorial works with iOS 4 / iOS 5 / iOS 6 / iOS 7 / iOS 8 / iOS 9 / iOS 10 / iOS 11 / iOS 12. It is also supported for OS X Lion, Mountain Lion, Mavericks, Yosemite, El Capitan, macOS Sierra, High Sierra, and Mojave.

Quick Steps - Saving text messages to computer for Mac or Windows

  1. Backup your iPhone via iTunes.

  2. Open Decipher TextMessage on your Mac or Windows computer.

  3. Select your iPhone or iPad and a specific contact and then choose Export as PDF to save the text messages to computer.

  4. On your computer, open the PDF containing the saved text messages and print or email the text messages to anyone.

Necessary items to successfully complete the tutorial:

  • iPhone or iPad

  • Decipher TextMessage

  • Mac or Windows Computer

  • iPhone Lightning to USB cable

Detailed Steps to Save Text Messages to Computer

Step 1 - Back up your iPhone via iTunes

If you are running iTunes 12, when your iPhone is plugged into your computer, you should see a device icon in the upper-left section of the iTunes window. Clicking on that device icon will bring you to the summary page for that iOS device (iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch) or bring up a menu of multiple devices for you to select from.

iTunes screenshot bring up the summary page for your iOS device

Older iTunes versions

If you are running an older version of iTunes, navigate to the upper-right corner of the iTunes window and you should see a button for one or more iOS devices. Press that button to bring up the summary page for your iPhone/iPad. If you do not see the button for your phone in the upper-right corner of iTunes, check to see if you have a list on the left-hand side of your iTunes window. If so, your phone should appear under "Devices" in that list. Click on the device name in order to bring up the information window for your iPhone/iPad.

Back Up Now button screenshot in iTunes

On the Summary page in iTunes you should then see the “Back Up Now" option. By clicking on "Back Up Now," this will ensure you phone backs up and doesn’t only sync. There is actually a difference! You can monitor the progress of your backup in the top part of the iTunes window. If you still have troubles backing up your iPhone, our guide on how to back up your iPhone should be helpful.

Step 2 - Run Decipher TextMessage on your computer

Decipher TextMessage will let you export and save text messages to your PC. After opening Decipher TextMessage, the first time you launch the software you’ll immediately see your iPhone listed in the left-hand column of the program window. If you don't see your iPhone or iPad then please double-check that you've backed up your phone via iTunes on your computer.

Download Decipher Text Message

Step 3 - Choose which specific text messages you want to save

After opening the program and selecting a device in the left-hand column of the program, you'll then notice a list of all your iPhone contacts listed in the middle column of the software. Scroll up and down to locate the contact whose text messages or iMessages you want to save to computer.

Choose text messages you want to save - Decipher TextMessage screenshot

After choosing a contact, select the “Export” option from the menu and then choose PDF. Now you can pick the folder on your computer to where you want to save the messages.

Screenshot showing select the Export option and then PDF option

Step 4 - Open and view your saved text messages on your computer

Open the exported PDF document and you'll immediately be able to read, print, and email your saved text messages. There is also an export as HTML option if you want to save the text messages to your PC or Mac and view them in your web browser. This option also lets you have a separate folder with all the image or video attachments so you can view them separate from the text messages themselves.

Exported iPhone Text Messages PDF example

How to add new text messages to existing saved text message history on your PC or Mac

Anytime you receive new text messages or iMessages that you want to also quickly save, all you have to do is make a new backup of your iOS device via iTunes and then the next time you open Decipher TextMessage the software will read-in the most recent messages and append them to your existing history within the program!

I can't save text messages to my computer since iTunes won't recognize my iPhone / iPad

If iTunes won't recognize your iPhone or iPad try these tips:

  1. Quit iTunes, restart your computer, and try again. Many times restarting will solve the issue.

  2. Double check that you are running the most recent version of iTunes. To check the version simply open iTunes and select "iTunes" from the menu and then "About iTunes" and you will be presented with the version number.

  3. Try connecting your iPhone / iPad with a different USB or lightning cable. Also try a different USB port on your PC or Mac. This might sound silly however often simply swapping out the iPhone cable or changing USB ports on your computer will enable iTunes to recognize your device.

  4. Test your device on another computer that has iTunes and see if the your iPhone shows up. If it doesn't, that will help you narrow down if the issues in your computer or your device.

  5. If none of the above steps get your iPhone to show up in iTunes you can try reinstalling iTunes which also sometimes solve the issue!

Tutorial Conclusion:

Hopefully you’ve now successfully backed up and saved your text messages to your computer! We recommend putting a reminder on your calendar at least once a month to repeat the process to ensure that all your most recent text / SMS messages and iMessages are exported and you have a safety copy backed up. If you have any questions about the tutorial, just drop us a line via our Decipher Tools Support Page and we’ll get back to you. Our offices are in the USA (San Francisco and Phoenix) and respond to everyone!

You can also read at Decipher TextMessage product testimonials from Facebook users who have used the software to successfully save text messages for their needs.