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Turning an XML on your Galaxy Note's SD card back to an SMS

Updated on August 29, 2013

I am not shy about admitting my lack of knowledge about certain things, and the mysteries of smart phones fall into that category. I bought a Samsung Galaxy Note, which I am constantly told is huge, and how something smaller is better. We'll discuss this later while I watch Netflix on a screen as big as your entire phone, not right now. In any case, I am pretty sure the Note is more technologically advanced than my laptop, and have no idea how to use at least 60% of the functions. I think I stopped trying once I'd figured out how to change the volume, downloaded the "It's so fluffy I'm going to die!" sound byte from Despicable Me and programmed the alarm clock. I also figured out how to save text messages! Woot! Go to your messages screen and tap the menu button on the bottom of the phone. "Save Threads". You put a check mark next to the message thread you want to save, tap "Save" and holy cow, the messages are now saved on the SD card.

Hurray for the messaging menu!

Adventures on the Interwebz

I am in a "situation" where I am saving all text correspondence from a particular individual. I save the messages onto the SD card, delete all my threads to free up the memory* and go about my merry way.

(*when you let your text threads sit and become huge, your message notification can be affected. Really weird, but when I had the Despicable Me sound, only half would play if I had too many messages in my "inbox")

I suddenly found myself needing something contained in one of those saved text messages. Simple, right? Just go to the saved file on the SD card (Apps> My Files> All Files> sdcard0> Messaging> [filename] ) and pull it up, right? HA! Silly. I do things the hard way, remember? The file is in XML format. Not sure exactly what XML is, but when I e-mailed it to myself (and subsequently used some kind of file manager app that I downloaded)and put the file into notepad it's all HTML jargon that I don't know how to read with the contents of the text in the middle. Oops.

I run to Google and the magical knowledge it contains: "Open with Excel."

Sweet! I can open with Excel! I have Microsoft Office!

Yeah. It opens in Microsoft office, all right. It has way too many fields, the time and date stamps are in some funky format that don't look like a time or date and can't be changed to look like a time and date. Time and date stamps are important. Critical, even. There's also the question of whether or not the Excel version is even acceptable. After all, I could have fabricated the whole thing.

Also can't open in Firefox and I even tried (and I am horrified) Internet Explorer.

Back to Google, looking up "How to get messages from my SD card" and "XML to SMS" and variations of "Oh, crap, I saved my text messages to my SD card and now I need to turn them back into text messages and I have no clue how."

In the end, I downloaded three apps for my phone, none of which worked, and here's why: I saved the messages through my phone, not through the app. The app cannot recover a file it did not save (which begs the question of why does this app exist if you need the app to save the file in order to recover the file). I tried a "free trial" file conversion program, changed the file path from .xml to .txt, and stood on my head spitting nickels while reciting the alphabet backwards. Everything had the same effectiveness. After an hour and a half of fighting with this, all to recover a text message thread that was RIGHT THERE on the SD card, I called the retailer where I purchased my phone. The person I spoke to didn't have a clue. So I called the other retailer in town. They were busy with a customer and never called back as promised. I was on my own! Google hadn't helped me, the retailers couldn't help me, there is no user manual with the phone, and I was looking at having to call tech support. I called HP tech support once and I learned a very, very valuable lesson (lesson: it's less aggravating to buy a new PC than call tech support. Or you can call a local computer repair place. Either or!). By this point, I had even opened my phone up to see if the SD card was the right size to go into my computer. This shows my level of frustration, since the file was already on the computer and just formatted uselessly.

Now I have to admit, I am one of those girls who uses screwdrivers to pry things and clean out small spaces, the end of my ratchet is a great hammer and when in doubt, use duct tape. If the hammer isn't working, get a bigger hammer. Sadly, cell phones are expensive, so hammers were out of the question despite the temptation to do otherwise.

So I went back into the messaging menu. Remember the one from earlier? Yeah. Tap "Settings".

Underneath "General Settings" there is a "Restore Messages" menu. Tap that.

Tap the file you want to restore. Suddenly you are going to be looking at the text message thread, complete with the bubbles, dates, and times.

Not done yet!

At the top, tap restore. You're going to get a pop up with the progress meter on it.

Then you get this, blissful, wondrous message:

Victory is Mine!

The best part, which I just discovered, is that when you restore a file that you have already restored, it doesn't create a duplicate (unlike one of the apps I downloaded, which would replicate the file as many times as you hit "restore").

Hopefully this shows up in the Google search. May you not spend an hour and a half tearing out your hair because you read this within the first ten minutes, and may you enjoy your Galaxy Note!


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      anonymous 2 

      5 years ago

      Dear Lord thank you for this post.....

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Thank you so much! It took forever to find this super helpful magic you gave me!

    • profile image


      6 years ago



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