Response to Reader Question: How to Archive Facebook Chats

Pidgin and Facebook Chat
Howto: Add Your Facebook Friends to Pidgin (via The Linuxologist)

One of my readers (and friends) asked:

“Is there a way to retrieve your facebook chats somewhere on your computer?”

While I personally do not use the Facebook chat (or any chat, seriously. I just don’t have time), I don’t get questions from my readers very often so I thought I’d look into it.

Here is what I’ve found…

The Basics

Facebook chat — as it is when you are logged in to Facebook.com — is nothing more than an HTML/AJAX “chat”… I’m trying to keep this in as plain of terms as possible for the sake of time and to save you the headache of technical details (I assume if you could understand the technical stuff, you probably already know how it works ).

So basically the chat functions as part of the Facebook website and is maintained between your browser and the Facebook server. This means there is no external “Chat” or “IM” client to manage it.

What You Can’t Do

Facebook does not currently provide an Archiving feature for its website-contained chat. This means if you want to archive your chats you are basically out of luck. All you could really do at this point is manually copy/paste your chats into a text file for archiving — this is the manual way, very nasty!

What You Can Do

Facebook does provide access to the “Facebook Chat” outside of their actual website. However, they do not offer an official “Facebook Chat” Client/IM. The good news is there are free chat/IM clients out there for all operating systems and you can use Facebook Chat (through one of these clients) to chat with your Facebook friends outside of the actual Facebook website (and without a browser at that).

Assuming you choose a chat/IM client that allows archiving, you should be able to chat with your Facebook friends and automatically archive the chats through the client.

So HOW Do You Do It?

First, check out this page and look at the supported chat clients. Pidgin is cross-platform (you can use it on Windows/Mac/Linux) and is the one I would choose, but you do as you like. Pidgin allows archiving and also has plugins that allow you more control over the settings (for advanced users).

Once you have Pidgin (or whatever chat/IM client you chose), you need to setup the client to work with Facebook Chat. Each client is a little different, but here is a quick guide to setting it up with Pidgin.

Next you will need to turn on the archiving/logging features and adjust the settings. It’s not as bad as it sounds. Here’s a quick guide for doing that in Pidgin also.

Conclusion

While you can’t easily archive Facebook Chat from within the browser/website, you can use an external client for that purpose. It is fairly painless and if archiving your chats is important to you, this is your best option for now.

If you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment below and I will try to help out as best I can.

Links (same as above, just verbose)

http://blog.facebook.com/blog.php?post=297991732130

http://www.facebook.com/sitetour/chat.php

http://www.pidgin.im/

http://www.bukisa.com/articles/331046_facebook-chat-a-complete-tutorial

http://www.ehow.com/how_5858426_archive-pidgin-instant-messenger.html

Alex

Alex is a professional web and mobile developer. He loves spending time with his wife and kids, and is still very much a kid at heart. He enjoys reading comic books, watching TV/Movies, playing video games, playing with action figures and Legos.

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