Opening Signal Desktop Database on MacOS

I’ve seen some conflicting processes out there, here’s what worked for me in May, 2020:

  1. Download and install DB Browser for SQLite but note that YOU MUST download the version specifically built with SQLCipher support. This version is not obviously available on their website, but you can find it in the nightly build folder here

    When I tried to open the database with the default version of DB Browser it asked for a key or passphrase but it was never successful in decrypting the database. (This was what you might call infuriating)

    You can find those builds here: nightlies.sqlitebrowser.org/latest

  2. Open the folder in Finder by pressing Shift + Command ⌘ + g (or open the Window menu and click Go to Folder) and enter the following path:

    /Users/{USERNAME}/Library/Application Support/Signal

  3. Open the file config.json in your favorite text editor and copy the value of key, for if you saw the following you would copy A_VERY_LONG_STRING_OF_LETTERS_AND_NUMBERS without the quotation marks.

    {
      "window": null,
      "key": "A_VERY_LONG_STRING_OF_LETTERS_AND_NUMBERS",
      "mediaPermissions": true
    }
    
  4. Back in Finder open the folder sql

  5. Open the file db.sqlite (by right clicking on the file and pressing open as, dragging the database to the application, etc.) in your newly installed version of DB Browser for SQLite.

  6. Switch the decryption method from passphrase to raw key in the dropdown menu

  7. Ensure that SQLCipher 4 Defaults is checked. SQLCipher 3 Defaults did not work for me.

  8. Type 0x in the password box and then paste the key you copied from config.json.

    • With our previous example you would enter 0xA_VERY_LONG_STRING_OF_LETTERS_AND_NUMBERS
  9. Press OK

You should be in, the rest is up to you!