Backup Notes and Extract Without Jailbreak From iPod, iPhone and iPad

How to backup notes from your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch to your Mac or Windows computer without Jailbreaking.  Here is how I extracted and transferred my Notes files from my Apple device without a jailbreak, email or saving each individually.

Warning and disclaimers:  I used a secure Virtual machine to do this.  I have not tested the suggested iphone backup extractor software for security and it might contain bad things because it is free on the internet.  These instructions worked for me and are here as a reminder in the case of needing to backup my Notes from my iPad again.  I am not responsible for anything that happens to you or your devices by following these instructions.  Stay frosty, check your corners and good luck.

Apple locks down the file system on a raw Apple device.  Without a jailbroken iPhone, iPod or iPad you cannot easily access the filesystem to extract and backup your notes files.

We will take the notes backup process step-by-step.  First, make the backup using iTunes.  Then pull out the notes.sqlite file from that backup.  Lastly, we will process the backup file to a text or html file.  I used Windows XP for this, it will also work on Mac.

Backing up your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch

Install iTunes and make a backup of your Apple device using it.  Do not sync!  Sync is not what we need.  What we need is the backup that will be generated.  Don’t worry about where iTunes places the backup for now.  If you can’t find the option to backup try right-clicking on the iPad icon on the left list and choose backup.

Extracting the Notes.sqlite file from the iTunes backup

To extract the Notes files we need from the backup we will need some custom software.  Search Google for “iPhone backup extractor”.  This will lead you to iphonebackupextractorDOTcom.  Download that.

Here’s the wordy part of iphone backup extractor so you know you’re at the correct site:

iPhone Backup Extractor
Recover lost iPhone calendar events, contacts, photos, videos, SMS messages, notes, location data and app data from iTunes backup files.

Install the iPhone backup extractor software.

NOTE: I am not endorsing iphone backup extractor in any way!  It might be malware or a virus, but it works for what we need.  It is up to you to decide for yourself, but I think I rate it’s safety at 8/10 because it did nothing strange when I installed it and is the first result in Google.

When you install iPhone backup extractor you might get an error of “.Net Framework Initialisation Error – unable to find a version of the runtime to run this application.”  If this happens you will need to download and install Microsoft Windows .net 2.0.  Even if you have .net 4.0 you will still need .net 2.0 because the .net software is not backwards compatible and each version is new and shiny.

Open the iphone backup extractor software and it will find the iphone, ipad or ipod touch backups you have in the top box.  Select the new backup from the list.  Now tap on Expert mode because that’s how we roll.  In the library folder there will be a folder called Notes.  Inside this Notes folder are two files, notes.sqlite and notes.idx.  Tick the box near the Notes folder and hit extract to extract the Notes folder out of the backup.

I chose to extract the notes folder from my backup into “My Documents”.  Iphone backup extractor might give you an error if you try to extract to the desktop.  Something about permissions.  If that happens just make a folder somewhere else and extract the files into that folder.

Reading Notes.sqlite on Windows

For reading my Notes.sqlite file I used Windows not Mac.  For this reason Mac guys are now on their own!  I suggest just Googling for SQLITE reading software for Mac.  Unless you came to this page after doing that…in which case…sorry!

To read a sqlite file on Windows you will need SQLite Database Browser from Sourceforge.  Google for “Sourceforge SQLite Database Browser” and download and ectract the software from Sourceforge.

Open your Notes.sqlite file with the SQLite database browser.  You will see three tabs at the top about the white window.  To see your notes file text hit the middle tab called “Browse Data” and choose ZNOTEBODY.    To extract the notes file as a csv/txt file – in the top menu go to File -> Export -> ZNOTEBODY as csv.  Place that file somewhere.

Once this file has exported, change the end file extension from csv or txt to html.  You can then open this file in Firefox and see all your amazing notes and inventions and crazy ideas for apps as a single page.  The end, leave a comment if this was helpful!

That’s the end of the guide to extracting Notes from your iPad, iphone or ipod touch.  I really wish Apple would fix it and make an export to Dropbox option for extracting and backing up Notes on an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

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