How to export messages from Facebook and Instagram

Social media has become deeply ingrained in our lives, with platforms like Facebook and Instagram allowing us to stay connected with friends and family across the globe. These apps contain years’ worth of conversations, photos, videos, and memories that are precious to us. However, as we’ve seen in recent times, social media accounts can be blocked or banned without warning. Before you lose access to your messages, it is wise to export your conversations from Facebook and Instagram for safekeeping.

In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the steps to download all your messages from Facebook and Instagram to your computer.

Key Takeaways:

  • You can use the Facebook and Instagram websites or mobile apps to request a download of your conversations.
  • The full process can take a few days between requesting and receiving the download.
  • You’ll get the messages in HTML or JSON file formats.
  • The files can be large, so expect to get links to download rather than attachments.
  • You can also use third-party apps, but be cautious about security.

Why Export Your Facebook and Instagram Messages?

Here are some key reasons why you may want to download a backup of your conversations:

  • Save memories – Download important conversations with close friends or family before deleting your account.
  • Evidence – Your messages could be useful as evidence in legal disputes or investigations.
  • Monitor kids – Check what your child is posting on social media.
  • Remembrance – Download conversations with a deceased friend or loved one.
  • Business record – Keep dealings with colleagues and partners documented.
  • Avoid loss – Download as a backup in case your account gets hacked, banned, or deleted.

Step-by-Step: Exporting Facebook Messages

The process of exporting your Facebook messages is simple, albeit a little time consuming. Here is how to do it on desktop and mobile:

Using Facebook on Desktop

  1. Go to Facebook.com and log into your account.
  2. Click on the arrow on the top right and go to Settings & Privacy.
  3. Open Settings and click on Your Facebook Information on the left sidebar.
  4. Next to Download Your Information, click on View.
  5. Click on Request a Download.
  6. Select your Facebook profile and click Next.
  7. Choose Select specific information to download and check the box for Messages.
  8. Pick the date range, email alert, file format (HTML/JSON), and media quality.
  9. Click Submit Request. Facebook will start assembling your data.
  10. When ready, they will email you the download link. Download the file from the link.
  11. Enter your Facebook password to confirm and access the file.

Using Facebook Mobile App

  1. Open the Facebook app and tap the hamburger menu.
  2. Go to Settings & Privacy > Settings > Your Facebook Information > Download Your Information.
  3. Tap Request a Download and select your profile.
  4. Tap Messages to select it and tap Next.
  5. Adjust the options and tap Submit Request.
  6. Download the file when you receive the email from Facebook.

The download time can range from a few minutes to a few days depending on how much data you are extracting. Be patient, don’t constantly refresh or reopen the page. The file size also varies based on the extent of information – it could be a few MBs to a several GBs.

Step-by-Step: Exporting Instagram Messages

Exporting your conversations from Instagram requires you to go through the same Facebook download process. Here are the steps:

Using Instagram on Desktop

  1. Go to Instagram.com and log into your account.
  2. Click on the profile picture icon on the bottom left.
  3. Go to Settings > Privacy and Security.
  4. Click on Data Download under Data and History.
  5. Select Request Download and click on your Instagram profile.
  6. Choose the information types and select Messages.
  7. Pick options like date range and file format.
  8. Click Submit Request and wait for the email from Facebook.
  9. Download the file using the link provided in the email.

Using the Instagram Mobile App

  1. Open your Instagram app and go to your profile page.
  2. Tap the hamburger menu and go to Settings > Security > Data Download.
  3. Tap Request Download, select your profile, and choose Messages.
  4. Adjust the download settings and tap Next.
  5. Submit the request and download it later from the email sent by Facebook.

As Instagram is owned by Meta, the back-end process remains the same. You need patience as it can take up to a few days to prepare the download.

What Format Are the Exported Messages In?

When you export Facebook or Instagram messages, you have a choice between HTML or JSON formats.

  • HTML – This saves all your conversations in a simple web-like format that retains fonts, colors, emojis, and media. Easy to view and share.
  • JSON – This is a structured raw data format. Hard to read for humans, but easy to parse programmatically if you want to analyze your data.

Neither format is ideal for long-term archival. You’ll likely want to convert the files to PDF to preserve the conversations accurately and portably. There are many free online converters you can upload the HTML files to.

Should You Use Third-Party Apps for Exporting Messages?

There are apps and services that offer to export your Facebook and Instagram messages. Some advantages they tout are:

  • Download messages in PDF format.
  • Include timestamps, contacts, and metadata.
  • Faster than Facebook’s tool.
  • Well-organized and searchable files.

However, it is risky to use such third-party services because you have to provide your login credentials. This exposes your account to potential compromise or hacking.

Stick to Facebook’s own tools for safely exporting your conversations without privacy risks. Even if it takes a few days and the formats are not perfect, it’s the most secure option.

Important Things to Keep in Mind

Here are some key pointers to remember when exporting your messages:

  • The download link expires after a few days, so download promptly.
  • You’ll need to enter your account password to access the file.
  • Larger files are split into multiple links to manage file size.
  • Removing tags and uploads reduces file size but loses context.
  • You can request downloads once every few days, not constantly.
  • HTML files need conversion if you want to preserve them as PDFs long-term.
  • Don’t use shady third-party apps that ask for your login credentials.

Why You May Want to Download Your Data Regularly

Getting into the habit of regularly downloading your information from social media is wise digital hygiene.

Every few months, you can request an updated download of your Facebook and Instagram messages. This acts as a periodic backup so you always have fresh archives saved offline.

It also allows you to reminisce on fun conversations from years gone by. You’ll be amazed at how conversations with friends have evolved over the years.

Being proactive also ensures you have recent copies of important conversations in case anything happens to your accounts.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions about exporting messages from Facebook and Instagram:

How far back in time can I export messages?

You can download all your message history right from the first conversation. Facebook and Instagram store your entire data.

Do the files consume a lot of computer storage?

It depends. Text exchanges are smaller, but years of media files add up. Have at least 10 GB free space.

Can I download messages without the sender knowing?

Yes, it is completely private. Nobody will be notified or able to know you exported messages.

What if I don’t get the download email from Facebook?

Check spam folders. If not there, go to Facebook settings and resubmit the request.

Are group conversations included in the download?

Yes, all your groups chats and messages are part of the exported files.

Can I export messages from multiple accounts together?

Unfortunately, you have to request downloads separately for each Facebook and Instagram account.

What are some other data types I can download?

You can also download your photos, videos, posts, profile info, ads, search history, and more.

Will exporting messages impact my account?

No, downloading your data is perfectly safe and does not affect your account’s functionality.

Safeguard Your Memories and Data

Your social media messages, spanning years of delightful conversations with friends far and near, are worth preserving forever. Don’t lose access to your memories.

Use this step-by-step guide to safely download all your Facebook and Instagram chats

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