Find Your Facebook Chat History

Facebook never forgets, even if you do

Most activities you undertake online are preserved for posterity somewhere. Communication within Facebook is no exception. In fact, finding your Facebook chat history is easy.

While the social network doesn't offer an official history section where all your messages are stored, there is a pretty simple way to find the history logs for specific messages and search through them.

You also can see your archived Facebook messages through a similar process, but those messages are hidden away in a different menu. If you need to look through spam messages, you must recover them from a different hidden area of your account.

These instructions should work from a computer and on Android and iOS mobile devices.

How to Access Your Facebook Chat History

The history of all of your Facebook instant messages is stored within each thread or conversation, but the method for finding it is different depending on whether you're using a computer or mobile device.

Search Chat History From a Computer on Facebook.com

On a computer you can search your Facebook chat history from the Facebook website as well as the Messenger website. You can also find messages from people you're not friends with by doing to Message Requests.

  1. On Facebook, click or tap Messages at the top of the page, near your profile and Home link.

    Messages on Facebook's main page
    Screenshot 
  2. Choose the thread for which you want the history.

    Facebook message thread selected
    Screenshot
  3. That specific thread will open at the bottom of Facebook, where you can scroll up and down through the past messages.

    Message thread at the bottom of the main Facebook web page
    Screenshot 
  4. You can see what you've communicated here.

  5. For more options, click or tap the small gear icon next to the Exit button on that conversation so that you can add other friends to the conversation, delete the whole conversation, or block the user.

Search Chat History From a Computer on Messenger.com

In the first step above, you can also click See All in Messenger at the bottom of the menu. This pulls up all your conversations so you can search through old Facebook messages.

The See All in Messenger screen, accessible here, is identical to the view in Messenger.com. You can avoid going through Facebook.com and instead jump right into Messenger.com to do the exact same thing.

Messenger is also how you can search for old Facebook messages:

  1. Open the conversation you want to search.

  2. Choose Search in Conversation from the right side. If you don't see the side panel, select the (i) icon to open it.

    Search in Conversation button in Facebook Messenger on the web
    Screenshot
  3. Type something into the search bar that shows up at the top of the conversation, and then press Enter on your keyboard or click/tap Search on the screen.

    Search results in a Facebook Messenger conversation
    Screenshot
  4. Use the up and down arrows on the top left corner of the conversation to find each instance of the word.

Search Chat History From a Tablet or Phone

If you're on your phone or tablet, the process for looking through your Facebook chat history is fairly similar but requires the Messenger app.

Use the Search bar at the very top of Messenger's main page (the one that lists all of your conversations) to find a specific keyword in any message. Here's how:

  1. Tap the Search bar.

  2. Enter some text to look for. Messenger will search across your contacts for the term.

  3. Tap Search messages to look for the term in your message history.

  4. Select the conversation you want to look through.

  5. From there, pick which instance of the word you want to read more context for. 

  6. Messenger will open to that location in the message. If it's not exactly on point and you don't see the word you searched for, scroll up or down a little to find it.

    Search in messages, conversation, and list of matching messages in Facebook Messenger for iOS
    Screenshot 

How to Access Message Requests on Facebook

If you think that someone you're not Facebook friends with sent you a private message, it won't show up in the regular conversation view. Instead, it's only accessible from the Message Requests screen.

  1. Click the Messages icon at the top of Facebook to open the drop-down menu of conversations.

  2. Choose Message Requests at the top of that screen, right next to Recent (which is selected by default).

    Message Requests button in Facebook Messenger on the web
    Screenshot 
  3. Another way to get to hidden Facebook messages from non-friends or spam accounts is to open the page directly, which you can do on Facebook or Messenger.

How to Download All Your Facebook Chat History

Sometimes, just looking through your chat logs online isn't enough. If you want an actual copy of your Facebook history logs that you can back up yourself, send to someone, or simply have on hand, follow these steps on a computer:

  1. Open the Your Facebook Information page. Either click that link or open the menu at the top right of Facebook, choose Settings, and then select Your Facebook Information on the left.

  2. Next to Download Your Information, click View.

    Your Facebook Information page in Facebook Settings
    Screenshot
  3. On that page, select Deselect All above all the check-marked items.

  4. Scroll down to the Messages line and put a check in that box. You can optionally keep everything selected to download all of that information.

    Checkbox to download Messages from Facebook
    Screenshot 
  5. Scroll to the top and click the Create File button.

  6. Wait while the gathering process finishes and for Facebook to email you. They'll also send you a Facebook notification.

  7. Open the link they sent you or click the notification, and then click the Download button from the Available Files tab on the Download Your Information screen. You'll probably have to enter your Facebook password again for security reasons. Your entire message history from Facebook and Messenger will download as a ZIP file.

If you requested everything instead of just messages, the whole process will probably take quite a while to finish because it actually gives you tons of your information on your past Facebook activities, including not just chat conversations but also all your shared posts, photos, and videos.