Which format should you export iPhone data to?


If you’re not sure about the best file format to use when extracting your iPhone backup data, you’ve come to the right place.

The purpose of this article is to explain what each file format is about. We've written this with the main goal of helping our iPhone Backup Extractor users in choosing between different file formats. However, you will still find this article useful to understand better the most popular file extensions.

Depending on the data you wish to extract from a backup, there are several options to choose from:

  • For messaging apps (SMS, Notes, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Viber, Kik, WeChat, Line and Hike): PDF, HTML or CSV
  • For Contacts: VCard or CSV
  • For Calendar data: iCal or CSV
  • For Location: KML or CSV


The CSV (or comma-separated values) file stores tabular data in plain text. The tabular data can be text or numbers. The data is stored on lines, where each line is a data record. The fields on every row are separated by commas.

If you decide to export the data in this format you should know that you have a lot of options to open it, such as Open Office Calc, Google Docs, Microsoft Excel or CSV Reader.

CSV file example
CSV file example

Remember that the data extracted into a CSV file is limited to text and numbers. If you need to extract additional data from your backup (like the image or video attachments, for example) you should choose HTML instead of CSV.


PDF is a standard format for presenting documents. PDF files look the same on every computer they're used (PDF stands for "portable document format"), and they're self-contained: it's a single file with any pictures or media included into it.

PDF is often the best choice for exporting messages, or for any document that you might later share with others.


The HyperText Markup Language (HTML) is a file format used to generate web pages in a standardized language.

The HTML files can be accessed with all modern browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Edge etc.) and the data extracted can be viewed like a web page.

Compared with the CSV, the HTML is more flexible and allows different objects to be embedded in its content. For example, a video file or an image can be easily included with ease in this type of file.

HTML file example
HTML file example

This file format is your best option if you need to extract complete data (ie. including attachments).


iCal (iCalendar) file format allows users to share tasks and meeting requests with other users. iCal format is supported by many products: Apple Calendar, Yahoo Calendar, SeaMonkey, Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird and Google Calendar.

iCal file example
iCal file example

If you need a quick way to import the Calendar from an iPhone into your calendar, the iCal format is what you need.


VCard is a file used for electronic business cards. Multiple identification fields can be included in VCard files, such as name, phone numbers, address, URLs, emails, logos, images and videos. The VCard files can be shared in various ways such as through an email or via an instant messaging client.

VCard file example
VCard file example

VCard files can be opened and imported into applications like Google Gmail, Outlook Express or the iCloud.


KML (or "Keyhole Markup Language") is an XML standard used to show geographic visualization and annotations on the two or three-dimensional maps and Earth browsers. This language uses 3D geographic coordinates (longitude, latitude and altitude) to determine the exact location on a map.

KML file example
KML file example

KML files can be opened and imported by Google Maps and Google Earth.

How to choose the file format when using the iPhone Backup Extractor

The best option if you need to save the data in a specific format is to choose the “Extract” menu, from the top menu of the iPhone Backup Extractor. Once here, pick the category and the file format you need, then select the folder where you want to extract the data.

Choose type formats
Choose type formats

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