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How to Save iMessage Conversations as PDF

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There are many reasons why anyone might want a PDF version of iMessage History, but it’s not entirely simple to make your own. Here’s what you need to know.

Messages app hosts texts from iPhone and Android users via iMessage and SMS respectively. If a personal or legal issue arises that requires proof from these text chats, users may need more than a screenshot.

Search for “Export iMessage” or “PDF to iMessage” results in dozens of results on the web that usually tell you to download a third party tool. Because messages contain incredibly private details, it is important to find tools that respect user privacy.

Most of the tools we researched for the iPhone appeared to take screenshots or videos of chat and convert them into PDFs. While this approach may work, it may introduce privacy risks when dealing with such private data.

A foolproof method guarantees user privacy, but you will need to sign in to your personal iCloud to do it.

Export iMessage and SMS chats using Mac

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

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

Setting up iMessage and SMS Sync

First, make sure iMessage is turned on in the settings on iPhone or iPad. Open the settings, scroll down to “Messages” and check if “iMessage” is toggled.

Sync iMessage and SMS texts to your Mac for easy export

Sync iMessage and SMS texts to your Mac for easy export

Second, check if the iCloud Messages Sync is on. At the top of the Settings app: Tap your name, tap “iCloud”, tap “Show All”, tap “Messages”, then check whether “Sync this iPhone” is toggled.

Finally, turn on SMS text message forwarding to sync non-iMessage texts to other devices. In the settings, scroll down to “Messages”, tap “Text message forwarding”, and then select the devices you want to sync SMS messages with.

On Mac, make sure the messages are turned on in iCloud 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, the only thing left is to export the desired conversation. It works for iMessage and SMS chats, make sure the chat is fully synced to get started.

  1. Open the dialog in the messages to be exported.
  2. Scroll to the top to sync more chat. Conversations with a long chat history require a lot of scrolling.
  3. Stop scrolling once you reach the desired date of the chat or export history.
  4. Select “File” from the menu bar, then select “Print”.
  5. Users can print a document from here.
  6. To ensure that the document is preserved, export it to PDF or Mail using the Option menu at the bottom.

It is a secure method to store the history of messages in a PDF or printed document. Third-party tools are available on the web, but we encourage users not to use them and stick to the official Apple-created method.

Images are not included when using the print option in messages. Instead, black boxes are placed where the images appear. However, users can retrieve all images from the chat periodically from the chat information window.

Get all the pictures from the chat using the info window

Get all the pictures from the chat using the info window

Select the “i” icon at the top right of the chat window to get chat pictures. Scroll down and select photos using the “Shift + Click” method. After selecting all the images, drag them to the Finder.

This collection of images and text can be combined with time stamps from images using “Get Info” in the Finder to check where the chat should appear. While this is a time-consuming way to export a conversation, it’s safe.

Exporting messages from iPhone and iPad

There are apps that promise to export messages to PDF on the iPhone or iPad, but we urge people to use the Mac if possible. If no Mac is available, find a screenshot sewing tool like Picsew that does not collect personal data.

Stitching app Picsew can convert a screen recording into a screenshot

Stitching app Picsew can convert a screen recording into a screenshot

For example, you can use screen recordings to create a Picsew PDF. Start screen recording from the control center and scroll down the iMessage dialog. Make sure the chat is already scrolled to the old date required for printing to prevent sync errors in the video, then record and scroll down.

The saved recording can then be opened in Picsew and saved as a single stitched image of the conversation. To save the PDF to a file, mail or other location, use the Save button in the upper right corner to select “Share PDF”.

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 device that uses the algorithm to sew photos. We believe in the privacy policy of this app and expect user data to be kept secure and on the device, with the user having to make their own decisions.

Talk to your lawyer if you need to

For legal matters, make sure that whatever device you are using is sufficient for the legal burden of proof. Our advice to you is to talk to your lawyer about what they and the court expect, and proceed.

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