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Picture of How to Download Voicemail from an iPhone
You can copy voicemail and other files from an iTunes backup just by renaming some files.

No jailbreaking or re-recording required!

This does require some familiarity with the command prompt (aka. command shell).

I was thinking of writing a small program or script to automate this but I am not sure what language to write it in.

I also don't really know how to illustrate this.

 
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Step 1: When you sync your iPhone, iTunes backs up your files

Picture of When you sync your iPhone, iTunes backs up your files
When you sync your iPhone, iTunes backs up your files in:
Mac: ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/
Windows XP: \Documents and Settings\(username)\Application Data\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\
Windows Vista and Windows 7: \Users\(username)\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\

Apple has some more information about iPhone and iTouch backups here.
It doesn't mention voicemail, but voicemail files are indeed included.

SmithersJr2 months ago

Thanks for the tips!

On a Mac, you can navigate to the listed directory (I suggest working on a backup copy) via Terminal and run this command to get the voice-mails in AMR format in a sub-folder named "vm":

file * | grep 'Adaptive Multi-Rate Codec' | awk '{ FS = ":" } { print $1 }' | xargs -I file mv file ./vm/file.amr

This worked well for me, after I remembered to create the vm folder! thx

jon.kinne.982 months ago

Here is the command I used in the Windows 7 command prompt:

@for %f in (*) do @(for /F "usebackq tokens=1,2* delims=; " %g in (`file %f`) do @(if %h==Adaptive copy %g %g.amr))

When I run that, I get a message (that endlessly scrolls) that says" 'file' is not recognized as an internal or external command"

I tried installing "File" from the site you suggested, but it must not have installed. Any ideas?

Thanks very much,

Jon
Alan Nishioka (author)  jon.kinne.982 months ago
Yes, the script above uses gnuwin32 file program that you have to install.

Here is a cygwin version that does the same thing:

for f in *; do file $f | grep -q Adaptive; if [ $? == 0 ]; then cp $f $f.amr;
fi; done

It checks all the files in the current directory.  If the file contains Adaptive Multi-Rate Codec (GSM telephony), it renames the file to add a .amr extension.

Hi Alan,

Thanks for providing a command line for renaming the files to *.amr in Cygwin. However, when I entered that, nothing happens.

Here is the command as entered in Cygwin...the directory with the itunes backup files is a529*

Jon@JON-YALE-OPLEX /home/a52933419a0fa72b7716fed06fea5dae7fdf6447
$ for f in *; do file $f | grep -q Adaptive; if [ $? == 0 ]; then cp $f $f.amr; fi; done

I appreciate your help
Alan Nishioka (author)  jon.kinne.982 months ago

Did you cd to the correct directory before running the command?

Did you check if it added a .amr extension to any of the files?

The command itself doesn't print any output.

In cygwin, you can just type:

file *

in the correct directory and then look for files with Adaptive Multi-Rate Codec (GSM telephony) and rename them with the .amr extension manually.

Yes I cd'd to the directory with the files. The command you gave didn't add the .amr extension, but I noticed a comment from SmithersJR who suggested a command to run on a Mac that would rename the codec files:

file * | grep 'Adaptive Multi-Rate Codec' | awk '{ FS = ":" } { print $1 }' | xargs -I file mv file ./vm/file.amr

So I created a directory vm and ran the command. At first I didn't think it had worked, but because I am so unfamiliar with Cygwin and its directory structure, I couldn't at first locate where I had created the vm directory, so I figured the command had failed. As I was looking around to see if your command had added the extension (it had not), I found the vm directory, did ls on that directory and, voila!, the re-named files are there. I should be able to run that same command changing 'Adaptive...' to 'JPEG' and 'vm' to something like 'Images' and be able to extract all of the .jpg image files.

Alan Nishioka (author)  jon.kinne.982 months ago

I glad you got something to work for you!

This really helped me. Thanks.
On Windows, I find that all the files have no extension (i.e. no .mddata extension). Here's the command line I used to copy all the voicemails to .amr files:
@for %f in (*.) do @(for /F "usebackq tokens=1,2* delims=; " %g in (`file %f`) do @(if %h==Adaptive copy %g %g.amr))
If you put it in a batch file, you'll need to double up some of the % signs.
The backups seem to include deleted or old voicemails. Next time, I will explore ways to zero in on the ones I want to save.

This command line doesn't seem to work...I get a message that there is a "syntax error near unexpected token `(' " I'm a cygwin newbie, so I'd appreciate any help you can offer!

Thanks

Alan Nishioka (author)  jon.kinne.982 months ago
Richard Owen used a Windows Command Prompt (not cygwin) for the command above. I just tried it on Windows7 and it works great!
I changed the beginning to:
@for %f in (*) ...
(removed the period) so it would find all my files
Alan Nishioka (author)  Richard Owen3 years ago
I'm glad you found it useful.
Looks like Apple has changed how it saves files. My latest backups don't have an extension either.
I created an account on instructables mostly just to say THANK YOU! This was great, clear, and worked like a charm!
Flocke2 years ago
I've got a problem with saving the SMS files in an arranged way since the extensions are gone. The only way to see the SMS chats (without jailbreaking my iPhone or buying any software) seems to open the backup file with editor, which is nonsense.
Could you help me?


I am using an iPhone 3GS and a Windows Vista PC.