Starting in 2020, Zoom rose above the competition of similar video conference apps. Another thing that arose was the need to preserve meetings and webinars, either for transcripts, references, training material, as proof something happened, or safekeeping, as a backup. However, there’s no reason to save the entire thing if all you need is text and possibly a few emojis. Video, audio, and other data would only waste precious Zoom cloud storage space and your local storage capacity, right? Instead, you should learn to save, then how to restore Zoom chat history at will. Let’s begin.
1. Save in-meeting Zoom chat history as a free user
First, we’ll cover the method for free Zoom accounts that aren’t necessarily admins. Follow these steps to preserve and restore Zoom chat history:
As a participant, co-host, or panelist in a meeting or webinar, the only way to manually save Zoom chat history is to during the webinar or meeting. Here’s what to do:
- Click on the Chat icon to make the chat appear.
- At the bottom of the message window, click on the 3-dot icon.
- Click or tap on Save Chat.
- After the meeting ends, you can retrieve Zoom message history from, by default, the same location as Zoom recordings (method 2, sub-method 1).
- The message file will have a meeting/webinar name, date, and time in its title, and usually a .txt or .csv file extension.
2. To the cloud
Users who are licensed hosts and have Cloud Recording enabled can automatically save chat history during a meeting or webinar. However, this option needs to be enabled manually, like this:
- Sign in to the Zoom account on the web portal.
- Click on Settings, then switch to the Recording tab.
- Under Cloud recording, find and put a checkmark in front of the option Save chat messages from the meeting/webinar.
- After the meeting ends, hosts can view and download Zoom message history in 2 ways:
- E-mail: Check your inbox for a message from Zoom, and click on the link for viewing and downloading your recording. The text file will be part of the recording archive.
- Web portal: Go to Settings > Recordings again, then in the Cloud Recordings tab, select Meetings. Click the download icon (down arrow) next to an entry called Chat file.
2. Restore Zoom chat history as a paid user and Admin
Users with a paid Zoom account or Administrators have access to the entire chat history of meetings and webinars. Message files are accessible under these conditions:
- At least one external paid user or Admin was present in the conversation.
- Messages from a free user that became a paid user are only recorded from the moment he started paying.
- Admin or host enabled chat Cloud Recording like in steps 1-3 above.
- If Cloud Recording isn’t enabled, Zoom still stores messages for up to 7 days as a fail-safe and deletes them automatically afterward.
- The files fall under the defined time limit. Chat history is stored in the cloud for 2 years and on local devices for 1 year by default. This can be increased to up to 10 years or reduced to 1 day manually.
Steps to download chat history from Zoom
Follow these instructions to recover Zoom chat history as an Admin:
- Sign in to your Zoom account via the website.
- Click on Account Management in the navigation menu.
- Click on IM Management, then switch to the Chat History tab.
- Enter a period for which you want to see chat histories in the From: and To: fields.
- Tip. A maximum search range is 1 year.
- Enter the e-mail address for the user whose message history you want to see, then click on Search.
- Once results appear, you have two options:
- Download: Download one selected message history entry as a file with a .csv extension.
- Compress All for Download: Downloads all files in the search results as a password-protected ZIP archive. Click on Show in the File Password column in the Downloads tab to see it.
- Every chat history file has the following format:
- Session ID
- Sender email
- Recipient email or name in the chatroom
- Content of the message