For many people, Facebook Messenger has become their go-to method of communication. You can write long and elaborate “emails.” You can send quick and immediate “texts.” You can even make phone calls, or video calls, or play video games, or send attachments, or connect Messenger to Dropbox.
But some folks still find Messenger confusing. No matter how hard it tries, Messenger doesn’t exactly replace email, texting and regular phone calls. It’s sometimes unwieldy, especially if you’re looking for a message from weeks ago and you just can’t find it.
Not to worry: Facebook stores absolutely everything, and finding your archived chat history is pretty simple. The only reason you wouldn’t find a snippet of correspondence is if you deleted it, which is a permanent step. But sometimes you think you’ve deleted something when you actually have just moved it elsewhere. (See below).
Here are some quick and easy ways to browse your chat history on Facebook.
Desktop: View All in Messenger
Viewing Facebook on your laptop is the easiest way to view your backlog of messages, but you have to know how. When you click on one of your messages, you see a tiny window pop up at the bottom of the screen. It’s narrow and confined, and it’s not easy to read. When you press “enter,” it immediately sends the message, whether you were finished writing it or not.
If you don’t know what to look for, the commands are surprisingly difficult to spot. But when you click on the “message” icon, and a bunch of messages appear as a drop-down menu, all you have to do is go to the bottom of this list and you’ll find “View All In Messenger.”
This link will send you to a new page, where you’ll see all your conversations, all your contacts, and every un-deleted word you’ve ever written to anybody. When you scroll upward, older messages will magically appear.
From there, you can also use the search function on the right-hand side to find specific words or phrases, pinpointing a precise moment in the conversation.
Phone: Use Messenger App
If you use Facebook on your smartphone, you’ve almost certainly downloaded the messenger app. Facebook has made it nearly impossible to use the website without this supplementary app, and you’ve probably requested push notifications as well. The company isn’t exactly subtle about wanting you to use all its features.
Conveniently, this app also stores all of your correspondences. All you have to do is scroll upward, and you’ll see a complete archive of every note you’ve ever transmitted.
Find Archived Conversations
While most of your conversations are easily visible, you have to take an extra step to find “archived” messages. Many people think they have deleted a conversation, when in fact, they have just moved the conversation to their archives.
Want to see what ended up in the boneyard? While you’re on the messenger page on your desktop, find the little gear symbol in the upper left-hand corner. You’ll see the option to read “Archived Threads.” You may be surprised by what you find.
Bonus: Message Requests
“Message Requests” is probably the most overlooked corner of Facebook, and it’s ironic because it’s hidden in plain site. When you hit the drop-down menu for messages, you’ll also see this option in the upper left-hand corner.
What are message requests? They’re messages sent to you from someone you’re not actually friends with. Facebook doesn’t notify you that you’ve received these messages, so many people go for years without realizing that someone wrote them.
Many of these may be spam, sent from people phishing for information, but others may be from people you met at, say, a convention or café. They didn’t want to send you an official friend request, but they wanted to drop you a line. This is something you might consider checking regularly to make sure you don’t miss a long-awaited note.