We made our Decipher TextMessage software to help people with their SMS and iMessage history, like collecting archives and backups of their important conversations, or print iPhone/iPad/iPod text messages for various needs. However, sometimes you may instead be interested in all of your text message attachments (photos, videos, etc) as a whole group, rather than the actual text history. We've been working on some various improvements to our tools to help support needs like this.
This article outlines step by step instructions for a few common tasks to save, export, or recover photos and videos from iPhone text messages and iMessages.
How to Save All of your Photos and Videos from your iPhone Text Messages
If you're not really concerned about the text message text, nor the contacts associated with the messages, and you want a quick way to bulk save all of your photos (and videos) from the iPhone Messages app, I would use Decipher Backup Browser's Text Message Attachments section to view and save all of the photos and videos stored in your iPhone Messages app.
Step 2: Install and run Decipher Backup Browser. It will look for your iPhone/iPad backups made in iTunes and show them all to you in the left column.
Step 3: Select your iPhone backup, and then select "Text Message Attachments".
Step 4: In here, you can see preview thumbnails of all of your attachment photos and videos. You can use the Save button to export all of the photos from your backup anywhere you like on your computer.
You'll need to register Decipher Backup Browser to use the save button or view full size photos beyond the first few photos!
How to Look for Deleted Text Message Photos and Videos
Back in the days of iOS 7 and earlier, when you deleted a text message (or text message thread), the database trigger to delete the underlying files didn't work so well. A lot of us had disk-usage-creep due to deleted photos and videos creeping around without our knowledge. iOS 7 sounds like a long time ago, but if you typically set up your new iPhones by restoring a backup of your old iPhone with iCloud or in iTunes, you likely still have remnants of those old old deleted attachments sitting on your iPhone and sitting in your backup. If you want to take a look, you can again use Decipher Backup Browser (free version) to help you out:
Step 2: Run Decipher Backup Browser. Decipher Backup Browser will automatically find your iPhone/iPad backups made in iTunes and show them all to you in the left column.
Step 3: Select your iPhone backup, and then select "Deleted Message Attachments".
Step 4: If you have deleted iPhone text message photos that are recoverable, they'll show up here.
Here's a screenshot of my Decipher Backup Browser looking at a backup from April 2015 when my iPhone was running iOS 8.3. Despite having deleted all of my messages on my iPhone multiple times, I can see photos from December 2011 (of my son who was six months old at the time). You'll also notice a big handful of photos that look like text bubbles; these are thumbnails that the old iOS Messages app made before iOS 8. That's a telltale sign that these are old deleted text attachments that didn't get deleted properly.
That just might be the cutest waste of space I've ever had on my iPhone.
How to Save All Text Message Photos From a Single Contact
If you really just want to save photos and videos sent to you from one person (or a handful of people), then I would use Decipher TextMessage for this, since it uses the text message database to organize the photos and messages by contact.
Step 1: Download Decipher TextMessage from our website and install it.
Step 2: Run Decipher TextMessage, and it will look for your iPhone backups automatically, and import the text message data.
Step 3: Select your iPhone in the Decipher TextMessage main window, then select the contact from which you want to save photos texted to you.
Step 4: Click Export > Export Current Conversation > Text, Photos, and Attachments. Select where you want to save the conversation.
Step 5: After the export finishes, you'll see a Finder/File Explorer window open to the exported files. Open the folder named "Attachments" inside. You'll see all of your photo and video files sent and received with this person!
We're always looking for ways to better support the tasks our customers want to do with their iPhone data. If you have other tasks you want to do with your iPhone Messages attachments, leave us a comment below or send us an email about what you're hoping to do and we'll see if we can help you do it!