Restoring Text Messages from an iCloud Backup
Ask iLounge offers readers the opportunity to get answers to their iPod-, iPhone-, iPad-, iTunes-, or Apple TV-related questions from a member of the iLounge editorial team. We'll answer several questions here each week, and of course, you can always get help with more immediate concerns from the iLounge Discussion Forums. Submit your questions for consideration using our Ask iLounge Submit Form. We reserve the right to edit questions for grammar, spelling, and length.
Q: How do I restore text messages from iCloud to my iPhone?
A: iCloud does not specifically store your text message or iMessage history, however like any other data on your iPhone your text message database should be included in your iCloud backups. This means that you can restore your text message history as it existed on your iPhone when your iCloud backup was made, but you won’t be able to access anything that was already deleted prior to that backup. iCloud does retain the three most recent backups of your device, however, so you should be able to go back at least a few days if necessary.
Unfortunately, there is no easy way to retrieve only specific information from an iCloud backup—you must restore the entire backup onto your iPhone or another iOS device in order to access anything in it. This requires erasing your device and setting it up from scratch, during which you will be offered the opportunity to log into your iCloud account and restore your backup from there.
Note that regardless of which device the backup came from, you can actually restore an iCloud backup onto any target iOS device, such as restoring an iPhone backup onto an iPod touch. In the case of retrieving text messages, however, you will need to use an iPhone as the iPad and iPod touch do not support SMS text messages.
While wiping your device and restoring it from backup may be an arduous process, if you really need some data back it may be worth the effort. The best way to handle this is to create a new backup of your device using iTunes prior to wiping it and restoring it from iCloud. This will allow you to return to your current state once you’ve restored the iCloud backup and retrieved any information you need from there. Note that making a backup to iTunes is preferable in this case to making another iCloud backup, since you probably don’t want to push out the oldest iCloud backup in case that’s the one containing the information you’re looking for.
You can perform a manual backup to iTunes even while you’re using iCloud as your default backup destination simply by connecting your iPhone to your Mac or PC, and then choosing “Back Up Now” from the device Summary screen that appears in iTunes.
Once you’ve restored your iPhone using the older iCloud backup, you can extract any text messages you want to save using a third-party utility such as eCamm’s PhoneView ($30) for Mac users, or CopyTrans Contacts ($15) if you’re a Windows user.
- Will removing a credit card from Safari also remove it from Apple Pay?
- Can I mute Handoff calls coming into my Mac from my iPhone?
- How do I keep my iPhone calls from ringing on my Mac?
- Why doesn’t Traffic show up on my Today Notifications Screen?
- Why doesn’t my iPhone reconnect to Wi-Fi after I turn it on?
- Why can’t I see the iPad-style landscape view on my iPhone 6 Plus?
- Unboxing the new 9.7-inch iPad
- MLB.com At Bat and NHL now allow users to personalize Home Screen icons
- Apple pulls over-the-air iOS 10.3 update for iPhone 5, 5c; iOS 10.3.2 seems to end support for them
- Supplier Responsibility Report, recent hires hint at Project Titan research
- Apple now rejecting apps with references to price in their name
- Apple Pay now live in Taiwan
- Apple releases iOS 10.3.2 beta to developers
- Rumor: Apple may add cellular capability to next Apple Watch, create USB-C/Lightning hybrid
- Urbanears launches new lineup of Wi-Fi Connected Speakers
- Apple adds ability for developers respond to apps reviews, tweaks in-app rating prompt rules
- AudioQuest NightOwl Carbon Headphones
- ExoLens PRO with Optics by ZEISS Wide-Angle Lens Kit
- Blue Sadie Headphones
- Circle with Disney Parental Control and Internet Filtering System
- Pioneer Rayz Plus Lightning Connector Earphones
- BEEM United BeMe D200 Lightning Connector Earphones
- Jam Audio JAM Xterior Max Rugged Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
- HiFiMAN Edition S Headphones
- Divoom Timebox Mini Bluetooth Speaker
- iClever BoostSound BTS-09 Bluetooth Speaker
- Top Five: The Best Products for Building a Smart Home with HomeKit
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of watchOS 3
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of tvOS 10
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 10
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Photos gets Advanced Computer Vision
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Music app delivers ‘clarity and simplicity’
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Maps gets a major redesign
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 shakes up the user experience
- Inside the betas: watchOS 3 promises a real speed boost
- Inside the betas: A sneak peek at what’s new in tvOS 10