Recover deleted Safari browser history and bookmarks


How to extract Safari history and searches from an iOS device or Mac

With iPhone Backup Extractor, you can access data from Apple's built-in apps. If you want to recover your Safari history or check the recent searches you've made, here's how to do this and more.

Navigate to "App view" in iPhone Backup Extractor, then select the Safari application and extract all the files.

Examining Safari data with iPhone Backup Extractor
Examining Safari data with iPhone Backup Extractor

You might notice that some of the extracted files have a .plist extension. You can view/edit these files by going to the File menu of the iPhone Backup Extractor and by clicking on View / Edit PList. Choose the file you want to view and click Open.

Opening Plist files
Opening Plist files

To view your Safari browsing history, you have to open the file History.db.

To browse your latest searches made on Safari, open the file RecentSearches.plist.

If your backup pre-dates the history being deleted on an iPhone, iPad -- or on a Mac sharing the same iCloud account -- you'll be able to see all of the deleted data. Neat, huh? 🤔

Below you can see a screenshot of the recent searches file, as extracted by iPhone Backup Extractor. The search queries are between the tags.

Recent searches and history from Safari
Recent searches and history from Safari

How do I get my Safari bookmarks from an iTunes backup?

We know how important bookmarking your favourite websites can be, but what happens if you lose or delete your bookmarks on your iPhone, iPad or iPod? If you've backed up your iOS device in iTunes it's possible to recover these, and today we're going to look at how this can be done with iPhone Backup Extractor.

Your bookmarks, along with other important data such as WhatsApp messages, contacts, SMS (etc.) are stored in your iPhone backup, and -- with the right tools -- can be easily read. In particular, iPhone Backup Extractor can extract the bookmarks.db that Safari uses to store your bookmarks.

You can access that file with the steps below:

  1. Open iPhone Backup Extractor and select the backup you wish to extract bookmarks from
  2. Select "Expert Mode"
  3. Navigate to the Library folder, then to the Safari subfolder
  4. Select the bookmarks.db file
  5. Click the "Extract selected" button and choose a folder to save the bookmarks.db file

Recovering Safari bookmarks
Recovering Safari bookmarks

How to read the Safari bookmarks database

This isn't rocket science, so don't panic! 🚀 This database file is in SQLite format, and we need another tool to read those files. Our note below includes links to get the best SQLite reading tools, but for now we'll assume you're using the Mozilla add-on named "SQLite Manager".

SQLite Manager
SQLite Manager

Open SQLite Manager and open the bookmarks.db file you extracted. Make sure you select the "All files" option, so you can see the .db file to open it.

Querying the Safari bookmarks database
Querying the Safari bookmarks database

Once the database is open, select the bookmarks database and you will see the title and URL fields and your bookmarks will be revealed. And that's all -- you now see all of your bookmarks.

If you wish to try some SQL and show just the two fields, use:

SELECT title, url FROM bookmarks the "Execute the SQL file" tab. If you do this, you'll find you can even save the results to CSV.

If you get stuck, reach out to us via live chat or email, and we'll do our best to help!

About the author

Alexandra Petruș served as Reincubate's VP of Product for a number of years and remains a friend of the company. She's recognised as a Google Developer Expert for Product Strategy, and is a co-founder of Bucharest AI.

Reincubate's CEO at Buckingham Palace

Pictured above are members of Reincubate’s team meeting HM Queen Elizabeth Ⅱ at Buckingham Palace, after being awarded the UK’s highest business award for our work with Apple technology. Read our position on privacy, safety and security.

We've helped over 3,000,000 people recover their lost iPhone data. Let us help you too.

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Jonathan Zdziarski picture

This is iPhone Backup Extractor, think of it as a "personal forensics" utility. It's pretty awesome.

Jonathan Zdziarski

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