How to get copies of cell phone text messages

Updated February 21, 2017

Some people consider text messaging an inferior form of communication. But on occasion, it's necessary to receive a more permanent record of text message correspondence. They can become a key piece of evidence in court cases or be used as a permanent reminder of a conversation that would otherwise disappear from record once you get a new phone or the message is deleted.

Install the USB SIM card reader software onto your computer.

Connect the SIM card reader to your computer through an open USB port. Remove the SIM card from your phone and insert it into the SIM card reader. The reader will then transfer copies of your text messages onto your computer.

Print your text messages.

Obtain a court order. Not all cell phones come equipped with SIM cards, and text messages captured by a SIM card reader and printed via your computer can only help a small claims case--and then only if the judge admits the evidence. For criminal cases, you will need a transcript obtained from your cell phone provider. In accordance with the Shared Communications Act, you are not allowed to receive a copy of text messages sent on your phone without a court order. Although the messages were sent to and from your account, they also involve another cell phone account whose privacy is protected. Depending on the cell phone service provider, this information may only be stored for a couple of weeks or remain on file for three years. Call your cell phone service provider to familiarise yourself with its policy.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer
  • USB SIM card reader
  • Court order
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About the Author

Based in Houston, Texas, Meg Butler is a professional farmer, house flipper and landscaper. When not busy learning about homes and appliances she's sharing that knowledge. Butler began blogging, editing and writing in 2000. Her work has appered in the "Houston Press" and several other publications. She has an A.A. in journalism and a B.A. in history from New York University.