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Fetch recipients and chat messages from the chat.db database.

Project description


This is a forensic tool written in Python 3. Use this tool to fetch the content (phone numbers, email addresses, messages and the account) from the chat.db database file on macOS (version 10.14 or above).

The following information is currently being read from the database:

  • user id (sender's or recipient's phone number or email address)
  • message
  • date and time
  • service (iMessage or SMS)
  • account (destination caller id)
  • is the message from me


Received messages (iMessage or SMS) and attachments will be saved in "~/Library/Messages". This directory contains a "chat.db" file (SQLite3) with two tables of interest: handle and message. The handle table contains the recipients (email address or phone number). The received messages are in the message table.


Of course, the chat.db file is only created under macOS. Nevertheless, this program can also be used under Linux. In contrast to use under macOS, the path to the chat.db file must then be specified (see below).


  • Python 3.9+
  • openpyxl

To run tests install pytest:

pip3 install pytest


pip3 install imessage-reader

Usage (CLI)

Specify no options

Start the program with:


This will show you all users and messages in the Terminal. If no option (-p <PATH>) is specified, the default directory (under macOS) is searched for the chat.db file.

Specify a PATH as argument

A different path to chat.db file can be specified with the -p option:

imessage_reader -p <PATH>

Unless the -o option is also used, the data is displayed in the Terminal.

Specify an output argument

You can create an Excel file containing users, messages, date and service (SMS or iMessage). The file will be stored in the Documents folder:

imessage_reader -o e


imessage_reader -o excel

You can create a SQLite3 database containing users, messages, date and service (SMS or iMessage). The file will be stored in the Documents folder:

imessage_reader -o s


imessage_reader -o sqlite

If you only want to see a list of recipients use:

imessage_reader -r


imessage_reader --recipients

Note: On macOS you need access to the Library folder in order to read the iMessage database file ("chat.db"). You can add access (for Terminal or iTerm) in

> System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Privacy > Full Disk Access

Specify a PATH and an output argument

You can combine the -p with the -o option:

imessage_reader -p /home/bodo/Downloads -o excel

In this example the chat.db file is located in the Downloads folder (on a Linux machine). And the Excel file will be created in the Documents folder.

Usage (import module)

To get the messages use following code:

from imessage_reader import fetch_data

DB_PATH = /home/bodo/Downloads/chat.db

# Create a FetchData instance
fd = fetch_data.FetchData(DB_PATH)

# Store messages in my_data
# This is a list of tuples containing user id, message and service (iMessage or SMS).
my_data = fd.get_messages()


  • Get the date of messages
  • Fetch the date of received messages.
  • Show a list of all known recipients.
  • Did the user receive the message via SMS or via iMessage?
  • Create SQLite3 database.
  • Specify a different path to the chat.db file.
  • Show attachments.
  • Add more tests.



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