Save your precious iMessage conversations using these methods.

Much of our daily communication is through messages these days.

 I don't think there's anything surprising about that. The written medium has always been a predominant means of communication; it just evolved over time.

Some of these messages have sentimental value, while others contain important information. 

So it's not surprising that we want to save some of these chats. But when you communicate via iMessage, saving those chats becomes a little difficult.

There is no direct option to export an entire conversation from iMessage or even larger parts to save elsewhere.

Save your iMessage conversations as PDF

Save your iMessage conversations as PDF
Save your iMessage conversations as PDF

 If you're switching phones and want to take those chats with you, iCloud backup will be your savior since you're switching to an iPhone.

 But if you're moving to an Android device or your goal of exporting a conversation is something else entirely, you'll need to turn to workarounds.

Export iMessage chats and SMS using a Mac

The Messages app on Mac can sync conversations from your iPhone or iPad. This is enabled as an iMessage feature by default, but users can also sync their SMS history to their Mac for easy export.

Before exporting your chat, make sure the Messages app is set up to sync conversations from your other devices.


Configuring iMessage and SMS Sync

First, make sure iMessage is enabled in Settings on iPhone or iPad. Just open Settings, scroll down to “Messages” and make sure “iMessage” is enabled.

Sync iMessage texts and SMS to your Mac for easy export
Sync iMessage texts and SMS to your Mac for easy export

Second, make sure iCloud message sync is turned on.

 At the top of the Settings app: Tap your name, tap “iCloud”, tap “Show all”, tap “Messages” and make sure “Sync this iPhone” is turned on.

Finally, enable SMS Text Message Forwarding to sync non-iMessage texts with other devices. 

Under Settings, scroll down to “Messaging”, tap on “Text Message Forwarding” and select the devices you want to sync SMS messages with.

On Mac, make sure Messages in iCloud is turned on by opening the Messages app preferences. Select “iMessage” from the tab bar and check “Enable messages in iCloud”.

Exporting Messages Chat to PDF and Mail

Once the Mac Messages app is able to sync with your other devices, all that's left is to export the desired conversation.

 This works for iMessage and SMS chats, just make sure the chat is fully synced to start.

  1. Open the conversation in Messages that needs to be exported.
  2. Scroll up to sync more of the chat. Conversations with a long chat history will require a lot of scrolling.
  3. Stop scrolling when you reach the desired chat date needed for export or when the history ends.
  4. Select “File” from the Menu Bar, then “Print”.
  5. Users can print the document from here.
  6. To ensure the document is preserved, export to PDF or Mail using the drop-down menu at the bottom.

This is the safest method to collect a message history in a PDF or paper document. 

There are third-party tools available on the web, but we recommend that users avoid using them and follow the official method created by Apple.

Images are not included when using the print option in Messages. Instead, black boxes are placed where images would appear. 

However, users can retrieve all images from a chat in chronological order in the chat information window.

Get all images from a chat using the info window
Get all images from a chat using the info window

To get the chat images, just select the “i” icon in the upper right corner of the chat window. 

Scroll down and select the photos using the “Shift + Click” method. Once all the images are selected, just drag them into the Finder.

This collection of images and text can be paired with the images' timestamps using "get info" in Finder to check where they should appear in chat.

 While this can be a time-consuming way to export a conversation, it is the most secure.

Exporting Messages from iPhone, iPad

There are apps that promise to export a Messages conversation to PDF on iPhone or iPad, but we recommend people use a Mac if possible.

 If no Mac is available, look for a screenshot sewing tool like Picsow , which does not collect personal data.

Picsew sewing app can turn a screen recording into a screenshot
Picsew sewing app can turn a screen recording into a screenshot

For example, Picsew can use screen recordings to create a PDF. Just start a screen recording in Control Center and scroll up an iMessage conversation.

 Make sure the chat has already been scrolled to the earliest date required for printing to avoid video sync errors, then record and scroll.

The saved recording can be opened in Picsew and saved as a single image of the conversation. Use the save button in the upper right corner to select “Share PDF” to save PDF to Files, Post Office or other location.

Picsew is a powerful tool that can be used to quickly create a large PDF image of a Messages chat. 

This tool is faster than using the Mac method, but it relies on a third-party tool that uses an algorithm to stitch photos together.

 While we trust this app's privacy policy and hope that a user's data is kept safe and on the device, users will need to make their own determination.