How to use DeltaChat on both iPhone and Mac

Problem: If you log in on both clients with your mail account, messages sent and received on your iPhone will show in encrypted form on your Mac, and vice versa. Also you will not see your own messages written on your other device.

Solution: Follow the steps described here to set up DeltaChat on iPhone and Mac. This will allow you to seamlessly switch between your devices with your chat history in sync.

Attention! By following these steps you will loose all DeltaChat data on your Mac! If that is not what you want, create a backup of your Mac data before proceeding.



on iPhone:

  • In DeltaChat, go to: Settings -> Your Profile -> Password and Email Account, and enable “Send copy to myself” (necessary for seeing sent messages on your other device as well)
  • In DeltaChat, go to: Settings -> Export Backup
  • Open Files app and search for delta-chat , you should see a file named delta-chat-<DATE>.bak (if there is no such file check if “on my iPhone” is selected as search scope)
  • Tap the delta-chat-<DATE>.bak file, then tap the share icon in the upper right corner, then select “AirDrop” from the share sheet. A list of devices appears, select your Mac.

on Mac:

  • Look for a macOS notification asking you how to proceed with the incoming file, and click accept (it is also possible that you only see a brief notification about having received the file, without the need to take any action)
  • If you already have set up your email account in DeltaChat, you need to remove it first: in DeltaChat click the menu button in the upper right corner, then “Switch Email Account”, and click the X beside your mail account.
  • In DeltaChat, click on the Import Backup button on the start screen, navigate to your Downloads folder, and select the delta-chat-<DATE>.bak file. Your account now should have been imported together with your iPhone’s DeltaChat chat history.

You should now see both received and sent messages on iPhone and Mac.


:+1: just note that in some months the file name will change from delta-chat-<DATE>.bak to delta-chat-<DATE>.tar. (just so no one is confused)

1 Like

Is it only possible to export in iPhone and import on Mac, not the other way around?

I’ve “started” on the Mac app, so all my data and keys is there so I would want to transfer that to the iPhone.

This is fine – i think you can do the same steps but then use airdrop the other way round, towards your iphone.

If I understand correctly, the backup ties together three things:

  • account/login information
  • autocrypt private and public keys
  • message data

And currently you can only recover a complete backup with all three parts at once.

Is this correct?

  • message data + all attachments
  • all account specific config values

Yes, an backup is just the whole local account data exported and can be imported as an complete account.

ah, I hoped that I was wrong about the keys being part of the backup :smiley:

so would the current recommended flow be:

  • do not log into your account on device 2
  • make a backup on device 1
  • transfer that to device 2 (the data is encrypted but still beware of clouds)
  • start autocrypt setup on device 1
  • finish autocrypt setup on device 2
  • all the data is readable on device 2 after autocrypt setup is finished
  • for messages to stay in sync enable BCC myself option on both devices


(not related as a bug report here, but: even after autocrypt setups in both directions I have now undecryptable messages on the desktop device. so this can happen and might be part of the guide in a troubleshooting section or the like)

edit: it’s even worse, the devices can both not decrypt my own messages from the other device