iPhone backup, restoring visual voice mail

October 18, 2011 § 10 Comments

For those of you who have visual voice mail on their iPhone (e.g. o2 customers), there’s no straightforward way of backing up your voice mails.
I haven’t given it a try, but maybe when you get your new iPhone 4S, you can restore it from your previous phone, and it will magically re-appear. (I doubt it as o2 insists on making sure you’ve listened to all your voice mails, and I’ve already lost my voice mails twice with o2). But if you seriously want to back it up in a usable way on your computer, I suggest the following:

type in a Terminal:
cd ~/Library/Applica[press tab]/MobileSync
look for your most recent backup by typing
ls -l (look at date).
change to that directory by typing
cd [name of directory]
to backup the voice mail files to your Desktop, type the following:
for file in `for blah in *; do file $blah; done |grep GSM | cut -f1 -d:` ; do cp $file ~/Desktop/$file.amr ; done
On your Desktop, you should see a number of new files, double-click and listen to your voice mails.

If you have Windows, you’re basically stuffed, unless you installed some Unix tools on your machine 😉 If you have, you know what all the above means and will know where to find the files and adjust the command to Windows.


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§ 10 Responses to iPhone backup, restoring visual voice mail

  • Tad Anglin says:

    I just wanted to say that this post helped out a friend of mine here in the US. His wife updated her iPhone to iOS 5 and lost all her saved Visual Voice mail. Using the exact instructions above, I was able to restore 362 saved voice mails from her iPhone backup file! Thank you!

  • kerjo says:

    Can these voicemails be restored to the phone?

  • Darin Ruff says:

    Hi Mike, I’m not a real technical guru, but would love to be able to restore my wife’s voicemails that she lost recently while changing sim cards. I’ve tried the above, but get stuck every time, as the initial command can’t seem to find the ‘/mobileSync’ directory. Any chance you’d be willing to walk me through it? Much appreciation,

    Darin Ruff

    • mikereys says:


      where it says [Press Tab], did you press tab? Or did you copy/paste the whole thing? That last manoeuvre wouldn’t work.
      If you prefer copy/paste, cp this:
      cd “Library/Application Support/MobileSync”

  • Gavin Thompson says:

    hi, after typing the first line into terminal, it came up with this message…
    ” -bash: syntax error near unexpected token `)’ ”
    This is really important to my girlfriend to recover these as she had voicemails from her mom on there who passed away a few months ago. Please let me know of any suggestions.

    Thank you!

    • mikereys says:

      Have you tried leaving out the ) , the shell clearly didn’t like the )

      • Gavin Thompson says:

        that worked! thank you… now though im getting to a problem at the cd [name of directory] part. This is the return it gave me right before that…

        Macintosh-10:MobileSync lmoskalski$ ls -l
        total 0
        drwxr-xr-x 10 lmoskalski staff 340 Oct 2 22:59 Backup

        What part of this is the name of directory that I am supposed to be typing in the brackets? Also, am I supposed to type it in the brackets? Another thing is, the backup that has all the voicemails was not on Oct 2, they should be the backup before that one. Is there something else I need to do to access that one or keep going from where I am?

        Sorry for all of the questions I have done I know nothing about terminal. But thank you for your quick responses!!

      • Gavin Thompson says:

        Nevermind, I finally figured that part out as well. Then I copied and pasted your last step into terminal and it didn’t return any error, so assumed it worked. No new files on desktop…. im assuming the reason for this is because the date it returned a little earlier in the process was not the date of the backup I needed, rather the date of the last and only backup of my NEW phone that doesn’t have the voicemails.

        Is there any way to tell it to search the second to last backup for the voicemail files? That should be the correct backup that I am looking for. Sorry for all the questions and the confusion. Let me know if you don’t understand what I am asking.

        Thank you so much for your help!!!

  • mikereys says:

    If you use TimeMachine, restore the data from the day you took the backup and follow a similar procedure…
    [this is not a helpdesk]

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