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The Voice Memos app on the iPhone is one of its most useful features, but for maybe a year, it’s proved impossible to get voice recordings from my iPhone and onto my Mac so that I can do something with them.  I’m not the only one – the web is crammed with forums documenting the same problem, with all kinds of baroque fixes and suggestions, most of which I’ve tried without success, or with only temporary success until the next OS or iTunes update. That  such a basic and important feature of the iPhone/iTunes has been left to rot by Apple is appalling.

The quick and reliable (and free) fix for me has been iExplorer (formerly iPhone Explorer). It turns your phone into a drive so you can view the contents and drag and drop stuff from it to your computer.  If like me you’ve got hours of crucial interview data on a phone, iExplorer’s a life saver. Here’s how:

1. Download and install iExplorer

2. Plug in your phone

3. An icon representing your phone will appear in the iExplorer window

4. Click on this to collapse the folders inside the phone

5. Keep going till you get to Media>Recordings>Sync

6. There are all your voice memos, filenames in yyyy/mm/dd format

7. Either drag and drop the files you want, or copy and paste them across to whereever you want them


Update on 7th August 2012 : Suddenly today, iTunes decided to download 35 voice memos going back months (I’d already downloaded them with iExplorer).   In the post above I never said how to sync voice memos using iTunes because it didn’t work consistently. If you want to know, just in case it’s working again now, this is how:

  • in your iPhone sync preferences in iTunes, make sure that ‘include voice memos’ is ticked under ‘Music’
  • when you next plug your phone into our computer, the voice memos should be downloaded to a playlist called ‘Voice Memos’ in your library

I still prefer the iExplorer method myself, because it gives me greater control over what I’m doing, and at least I know it’s done it.


9 thought on “How to sync voice memos from your iPhone”
  1. This post has alleviated a months-long headache. Thanks a million!

    PS – after starting iExplorer I noticed that my voice memo files were listed in the Recordings folder itself, not the Sync sub-folder. Wondering if that’s part of the reason why they wouldn’t ever sync to iTunes even after trying the on/off trick dozens of times?

    In any case… Glad to have found this. Thanks again.

    1. Hi Chris, glad it worked for you, long may it continue 😉 My voice memos were in my sync subfolder, but they still didn’t sync – or at least not consistently. The on-off trick worked once for me, I think, but then not the next time. Ah well….

  2. Jonathan! You deserve a medal and shares in pharmaceutical companies for headache relief! Thank goodness for this post thank the good lord of awesomeness for this post. THANK YOU! i needed this voice memo of my phone immediately and you solved a thousand searches in google and my hair which I had all but torn right out. Thank you thank you thank you! 🙂

  3. this is great except they appear to be in no particular order. I’d have liked to have retained the timestamp too but I guess that’s just going to have to be too much trouble to bother with.

  4. oh wait, actually it was in order. The problem was that in my phone there were some files that had the exact same timestamp (I guess because I recorded two files within the same minute), and sometimes iExplorer would swap the order that those two files differently from how it was in my phone. Except for a couple instances of that happening, it was all ordered fine.

    iExplorer is awesome! thanks for publicizing it here.

  5. ooh actually I just realized something else. I wasn’t using iExplorer! I was using Syncios. iExporer did not work for me. It had the same problems iTunes was having for me. The 3rd party software Syncios is what worked.

    1. The main thing is, you sorted it, whichever program you used. The problem for me was that I assumed it must be me, rather than iTunes, and I didn’t know you could just get a program to look at your phone’s storage. iTunes seems to work OK now – at least for the particular combinations of machines that I have.

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Jonathan Still, ballet pianist