How to Transfer Messages from iPhone to iPhone

Take your private convos with you to that new phone

Getting a new iPhone is exciting, but when you switch it's essential that you make sure to transfer your most important data—like your text messages. Luckily, it's not hard to transfer messages to a new iPhone, if you know what to do.

The instructions in this article apply only to Apple's Messages texting app that comes pre-installed on the iPhone. It does not cover other texting apps, such as WhatsApp. You must be running iOS 11.4 and newer, though this article was written using iOS 13.

Moving texts from one iPhone to another is pretty easy: Basically, you just need to make a backup of Messages and then install the backup onto the new phone. Apple gives you three ways to backup and transfer messages to a new iPhone. You can back up to iCloud, back up to a Mac or PC, or enable Messages in the Cloud, which puts all of your texts into iCloud.

How to Transfer Messages from iPhone to iPhone With Messages in iCloud

Maybe the simplest way to transfer messages from iPhone to iPhone is to use Messages in iCloud. This feature of iCloud was introduced in iOS 11.4. When you have it enabled, it works just like iCloud syncing does for other data: you upload content to your iCloud account and then all other devices signed in to the same account can download messages from iCloud. Pretty simple—and it covers both standard SMS texts and iMessages. Here's what to do:

  1. On your current iPhone, tap Settings to open it.

    You may prefer to be connected to Wi-Fi, since uploading your messages will likely be faster. But, in a pinch, uploading over a cellular network is OK, too.

  2. Tap your name.

  3. Tap iCloud.

  4. Move the Messages slider to on/green. This starts the process of backing up your messages to your iCloud account.

    Screenshots of turning on Messages in iCloud on iPhone
  5. On the new phone that you want to transfer the messages to, log into the same iCloud account and follow the same steps to enable Messages in iCloud.

How to Move Messages to Your New iPhone Using iCloud

If you don't want to use Messages in iCloud (because you've got an older phone, don't want your texts saved in the cloud, you don't want to pay for extra iCloud storage, etc.), you can transfer messages from iPhone to iPhone via restoring from backup. Here's what to do:

  1. On your current iPhone, tap Settings.

  2. Tap your name.

  3. Tap iCloud.

    Screenshots of backing up iPhone to iCloud
  4. Tap iCloud Backup.

  5. Move the iCloud Backup slider to on/green.

    Screenshots of backing up iPhone to iCloud
  6. Tap Back Up Now to start backing up right away. How long this takes depends on how much data you have to back up. Depending on the backup size, you may also need to upgrade your iCloud storage.

    If you don't do this, backups happen automatically when your phone is plugged into power, connected to Wi-Fi, and has its screen locked.

  7. When the backup is complete, start setting up your new iPhone. When it's time to decide how to set it up, choose to restore from backup. Choose the iCloud backup you just made and all of your backed-up data, including your messages, will be downloaded to the new iPhone.

How to Move Messages to Your New iPhone Using a Mac or PC

Prefer not to do your backing up to iCloud, but still need to transfer messages to a new iPhone? Use the trusty old method of backing up your data to a Mac or PC. Here's how:

The Mac instructions apply to computers running macOS Catalina (10.15) and newer. For older versions, the instructions are largely the same except that you use iTunes instead of the Finder to back up.

  1. Connect your current iPhone to your Mac or PC.

  2. Open a new Finder window (on a Mac) or iTunes (on a PC). If you're on a PC, skip to step 5.

    If you're using a PC and iTunes, iTunes should automatically back up your iPhone as soon as it's connected.

  3. Expand the Locations section of the left-hand sidebar, if it's not already open. and click your iPhone.

    The location of an iPhone in the Finder screen on Mac
  4. In the iPhone management screen that appears, click Back Up Now.

    Screenshot of iPhone management screen on Mac
  5. When the backup is complete, start setting up your new iPhone. When you're asked how to set it up, choose Restore from backup. Connect your iPhone to the computer you just used for the backup and then select the backup. All your backed-up data, including your messages, will be downloaded to the new iPhone.