The latest WhatsApp privacy kerfuffle has once again made us wonder if it is a good idea that we are giving our data to a company with Facebook’s track record.
In this guide we’re going to focus on exporting your conversations in a readable format – we haven’t actually closed your account. Note that this is different from moving WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger to a different phone or device, which these apps handle relatively well.
If you are jumping for an option like Signal, or you want to figure out an exit strategy for future use, here’s how to export your messages from Facebook’s platform. As you might expect, it is impossible to get conversational threads from just one app to another – the best you can get your messages into a backup file is the best you can do for a particular Messaging app can be kept for reference after ceasing use.
The export function on WhatsApp works differently to the backup function, which is usually handled by Google Drive or iCloud. If you uninstall WhatsApp, or you are moving WhatsApp to a new device or you are moving to a new device, by backing up your chat you can quickly restore the conversation – if you are using WhatsApp Is not really useful if they are completely omitted.
If you’re using WhatsApp on an Android phone, open the conversation you want to export, tap the three dots in the upper right corner, and then choose More and Export Chat.
You can choose whether videos and photos are included, or simply keep the text, and then you will be given a standard Android share sheet. You can email the archive to yourself, or save it to a cloud storage locker, and so on.
On iOS you need to open the conversation to the people you want to export, then tap the header at the top. Choose Export Chat, choose whether or not to include media files in the backup, and the iOS share sheet pops up – this allows you to save the chat archive to your phone, or send it to any installed app , Or email it to yourself.
Of course, if your chat contains information that you have not let anyone else see, then you need to make sure that your backups are protected from unauthorized access, wherever you decide to save them.
Finally, spinning Messenger out of Facebook was a clever move by Zuckerberg and co. This means that many of us are still using Messenger to chat with friends and family, until the news feed was abandoned. You can export your conversations separately from everything, but you need to go to the main Facebook hub first.
Log into your Facebook settings page on the web, then choose your Facebook information and click on Look Forward to download your information. Make sure the message entry is checked, as well as any other bits of data you want to download. Select all of my data next to the date range, HTML next to Format and higher next to Media Quality from the drop-down menu at the top of the list.
When you’re done, click Create File, and then you’re about to wait for Facebook to get the required bits and bytes in the correct order. When your download is ready, you will receive an email and a Facebook notification, and then you can save it as you wish. Depending on how long you’ve been on Facebook (and how much you’re chatting), you may end up with a large file.
You can choose which conversation threads are included – Facebook just gives you everything, including photos. You can limit the date range by using the drop-down menu, which we have already mentioned, but otherwise you get a lot. The HTML file you end up with can be viewed in any web browser – just open the index.html file or your_messages.html file in the message subfolder to start browsing.
Like Facebook, the ability to export messages to Instagram as a whole is included in the common export tool for your Instagram account. This needs to be done from the Instagram settings page on the web – the same data download tool for Android and iOS is not rolled out from the app.
Click Privacy and Security and then download the request under Data Download. You will need to specify the email address to be sent for archiving, and you will need to re-enter your Instagram password, and then you can click Request Download.