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How to back up your text messages

There are multiple ways to back up your text messages on Android or iOS.

Published onMay 19, 2023

While much of the world relies on WhatsApp these days, SMS text messaging is still a primary communication tool in the US. That means you’re likely to have plenty of important text messages that you wouldn’t want to lose in the event of your phone going missing. Fortunately, there’s more than one way to back up your messages. We’ll run you through how to save your text messages, whether you’re an iPhone or Android user.


You have a few options to back up your text messages:

  1. Back up to Google Drive on Android or iCloud on iPhone.
  2. Use iTunes backup for iPhone.
  3. Use a third-party app.
  4. Screenshot the messages.
  5. Forward the messages to another number.

We run you through all the possibilities in the guide below.


How to back up your text messages on Android

There are several ways to back up your text messages on Android.

1. Backup your text messages to Google Drive

Good news, Android users. Your text messages are probably already being backed up. That’s because Android phones not only have the ability to back up things like app data, contacts, device settings, and SMS text messages to Google Drive,  the feature is probably already enabled by default. Assuming you’ve linked a Google account to your device and you have sufficient space on your Google Drive, it’s likely you’re protected in the case of losing your phone.

To check your text messages are being backup up to Google Drive, go to your phone’s Settings menu.

Scroll down and tap on the Google submenu, then hit Backup on the next screen.

Now you should be able to see Backup by Google One and a slider next to it. If this slider is toggled to on, your data is backed up to Google Drive regularly. You can see below in the Backup details section that SMS and MMS messages are included. If you’re about to switch devices or your data has not been backed up in a while, you can press Back up now to get a real-time backup.

This is an extremely handy feature, but it’s not perfect. For one, it requires backing up all of your data —  not just your text messages. It’s also only convenient for restoring your messages in the event that you reset your device, or you’re setting up a new one. So we’ll look at some other methods.

2. Use a third-party app

As you might expect, there are many third-party apps that can assist you with backing up your SMS text messages. You should read reviews and decide which is best for you, but it is essentially a case of identifying the app you want on the Play Store and then following the instructions once it is downloaded.

Here is an example using one of the most popular apps for this task called SMS Backup & Restore.

Open the Google Play Store on your device and search for SMS backup or something similar. The app should be one of your options. Be sure to choose carefully whenever downloading a new app, as there will be similarly named apps out there. In the case of SMS Backup & Restore, you can see that there is an app with the same name promoted as an ad above the more popular app in the list. The number of downloads is a giveaway.

Tap on the app you want and hit Install. Once the app is downloaded and installed, press Open.

Hit GET STARTED and allow the app to access the data that you want to back up.

Tap SET UP A BACKUP. On the next screen, ensure the toggle button next to Messages is set to on, and press NEXT.

The rest of the steps are very straightforward. You will choose where you want to back up your messages and log in to any relevant cloud storage locations such as Google Drive or Dropbox. You’ll also decide the frequency you want the backup to be performed.

3. Screenshot or forward the messages

We’ve covered ways to create bulk backups of your messages, but you might want to just save certain messages or conversations without involving the cloud or other apps. It could be that you need to save an important message or produce screenshots of messages to prove a point in court.

In these situations, you might find it easiest to either take a screenshot of the messages or forward them to yourself or someone else’s device.

To screenshot your text messages, open the conversation you want to save in your messaging app.

Take a screenshot of the message by pressing the power and volume down buttons simultaneously.

Go to the Google Photos app and choose Library from the buttons along the bottom.

You’ll see a folder called Screenshots. Tap it, and you’ll see the screenshots of the messages you took. You can then send them via message, attach them to an email, print them, or take any other action you choose to preserve the copy.

If you prefer to send individual messages as text messages in order to keep hold of them, check out our guide on how to forward a text message.

How to back up your text messages on an iPhone

The options you have to save your text messages on an iPhone are very similar to those on an Android device. We’ll go through a non-exhaustive list of options.

1. Backup your text messages to iCloud

how to save text messages on iphone to iCloud.
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Backing up text messages from an iPhone to iCloud is the equivalent of backing up to Google Drive on Android. There’s no third-party app involvement, and it’s easily set up from within the phone’s settings. The main difference is that iCloud only offers 5GB of free storage allowance compared to the 15GB of Google Drive. That’s not a problem if you were only storing text messages, but it will fill up quickly otherwise, and you’ll need to start paying for a plan. But it’s only $1 per month for an additional 50GB.

Your iCloud backup might well be enabled by default. If not, here are the steps to follow to enable it:

  1. Go to your iPhone Settings menu.
  2. Tap iCloud, then backup.
  3. Ensure the toggle switch next to iCloud backup is switched to the on position.
  4. Hit Back up now.

As with the Google Drive situation above, this is only useful for restoring text messages and other data when you reset the phone or set up a new device.

2. Backup to iTunes

how to save text messages on iphone to iTunes
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

As iOS fans will know, iTunes isn’t just a music platform; it’s an interface between your iPhone or iPad and computer. That includes a backup facility. While it has the same issue of not being able to exclusively save text messages, it is a good way to back up you iPhone to your laptop rather than a cloud service.

Here’s a quick run-through of the process to follow:

  1. Use a lightning cable to connect your iPhone to the computer.
  2. When iTunes recognizes your device, click on its icon and hit Summary.
  3. Scroll down to the Backup section.
  4. Do one or both of two things: Set the Automatically Back up toggle to This computer and/or hit Back Up Now under the Manually Back Up and Restore heading.

You can choose whether or not to encrypt the backup, which is a matter of personal preference. Then just wait for the backup to finish.

3. Screenshot or forward the messages

Apple iPhone 14 how to save text messages on iphone android
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Of course, you have the same simple options to save individual text messages on an iPhone as you do on Android: you can screenshot the messages, or you can forward them to another number.

We have dedicated guides to doing both. Check out our run-through of how to screenshot a message on iPhone and our how-to on forwarding a text message on an iPhone.

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