How to Backup and Print Text Messages From Your Phone
This week, I had two people that had a cell phone emergency. One had broken their phone screen but had been being threatened by someone in their text messages, and the other needed to print out text messages for court from their phone. What happens when you need access to this information, and what can you do to back it up? You might be surprised that it isn't as easy as it seems it should be.
Text Message Backups
The advice you take depends on which kind of device you have. If you have an Android phone, the advice is much different than if you have an iPhone, but you might consider the consequences of not having access to your text messages in either case.
On Android phones, the solution is pretty simple. There are apps that allow you to keep your text messages backed up at all times, and they're also accessible if you don’t have access to your phone. The app I use is SMS Backup+. With this app, I run it and it asks to connect to my Gmail account, and that’s pretty much all there is to it. It will automatically create a folder in your Gmail account called “SMS”. When you click on that folder, you will see every single conversation, along with images, that you have ever had on your phone. On top of that, it will keep your text messages in sync with your email box, so you don’t have to do it manually.
On iPhones, the process is very easy as well. In fact, Apple allows your text messages to be backed up to iCloud, along with all your other information. While this doesn’t help us with the printing of text messages, it certainly does ensure that you don’t lose them if you lose access to your phone.
Printing Text Messages
The thing I didn’t realize until I had to figure out a way to do it this week is that printing out text messages can be an amazingly difficult task. A woman brought her phone into me, needing her messages printed out for court, and I thought, “Okay, I’ll just hook her phone up to my printer, and there will be an option to print the messages in the menu somewhere.” Boy was I wrong. That is not an option at all. Further, the only applications I found that would be able to print messages more directly were not free, and I tend to not like to recommend non-free options if I can avoid it. Instead, what we did was to set her phone up with SMS Backup+ and printed her text messages from her email account instead. They all came up in a thread, and I just printed them all. The only possible problem with this is that they are going to all be showing they were sent to your email address, but they do have the other party’s phone number in the subject line. I find this to be a quite acceptable solution to the problem of needing to print out phone conversations.
As for printing messages from iPhones though, I haven’t been able to verify a free solution. I have found several pieces of software that claim to let you do this, but of the ones I found, they all said they were free, but would only let you see the messages, but not do anything with them unless you paid. As my experience using iPhones is pretty low, I don’t have a better way at the moment of printing out text messages free, other than to either do a print screen of the message or forward them to your email address to be printed. If someone has another way of doing this that is easier, let me know. I’m sure I’ll run into the need for it in the future myself.
You may never have a problem where you need to get access to those text messages, and for those people, congratulations. For everyone else, a little piece of mind that they won’t be destroyed forever can go a long way.