Moving chats out of WhatsApp can be helpful in different situations. For instance, you can share the entire history of a conversation with a friend, use it as evidence of who-knows-what, or create a backup of chats in case you lose the original chats. This tutorial shows how to export or back up WhatsApp chat history and the difference between the two.
Difference Between Export and Back Up in WhatsApp
Exporting chats is a manual process that must be done every time you want to transfer one, and it must be done individually. On the contrary, backing up is an automatic process and is done for every chat on your account. WhatsApp will automatically create a backup on Google Drive (Android) or iCloud (iPhone) at the desired frequency (daily, weekly, or monthly). You can even choose to update backups manually.
Secondly, the exported chats can be read on any device. You can open them on Windows, macOS, iPhone, and Android. Once the chat history is exported, it becomes separate from the original chat, and can be viewed by anyone. But when you back up WhatsApp chats, they will connect back to the original WhatsApp account, and no one else can view them.
In a nutshell, exporting chats comes in handy when you want to send the chat history to someone else or want to import it to Telegram, whereas backing up can help you store and retrieve your chat history if you change or lose your phone.
How to Export Whatsapp Chats from Android to PC
- Open WhatsApp and go to the chat that you want to export.
- Tap the three-dot menu icon at the top right.
- Tap “More -> Export chat.”
- A pop-up will appear asking you whether you want to export the chat with media or without. If you want to get the entire conversation and media is not a priority, select the “Without Media” option, but if you want to transfer videos and pictures as well, select “Include media.” Do note that including media will increase the size of the chat.
- Select where the chat will be exported to. You can send it via chat apps or email it to yourself. If you want to open it on a PC, your best bet is to upload it to Google Drive (or another cloud service that you have on both your PC and phone).
- After the export, your conversation will appear as a “txt” file that can be opened in the browser version of Google Drive or by using any basic text editor app, such as Notepad on PC or TextEdit on macOS.
How to Export WhatsApp Chats from iPhone to PC
- Launch the WhatsApp app and open the chat to be exported.
- Tap on the contact or group name at the top of the chat thread.
- Scroll down and tap on “Export chat.” Choose whether you want to export the chat with media or without from the pop-up menu.
Tip: a second way to export WhatsApp chat history from an iPhone is “Settings → Chats → Export chat.” Tap on the chat to be exported.
- Select your e-mail app from the Share screen and send the ZIP file to yourself. You can also upload it to a cloud storage service of your choice.
- Open the email on your PC, download the ZIP file, and extract it to get the “txt” document containing your chats. You can extract a ZIP file in Google Drive or with other online tools.
Note: you can only export WhatsApp chat history from mobile the mobile app. The WhatsApp web and desktop apps don’t support this feature. But if you scroll up to the first message in the chat and press Ctrl + A (Windows) or Cmd + A (macOS), the entire chat will be selected. Use the copy-paste commands to transfer the selected chat to a text editor.
How to Back Up WhatsApp Chats from Android to Google Drive
Before we jump to the steps, please keep in mind the following things about WhatsApp backups on Google Drive.
- Your WhatsApp backups from an Android device to your Google Drive personal account will not count towards your Drive storage.
- You can stop and delete the backups from Drive but cannot open or view the files inside a backup.
- If you don’t update the WhatsApp backup within a year, it will be deleted automatically from Google Drive.
To back up to Google Drive, follow the steps below:
- Open WhatsApp on your Android phone.
- Tap on the three-dot icon at the top right and select “Settings.”
- Go to “Chats” followed by “Chat backup.”
- Tap on “Google account” and select the desired account from the list. If you want to add it to a different Google account, tap on “Add account.”
- You can customize the backup settings from the same screen. Tap on “Back up to Google Drive” and choose the frequency: daily, weekly, monthly, or “Only when I tap ‘back up.’ ” Furthermore, if you have a limited mobile data plan, you can limit the backup to only taking place while you’re on Wi-Fi under the “Back up over” option.
- Tap on the “Back up” option to start creating a backup.
How to Back Up WhatsApp Chats from iOS to iCloud
Before backing WhatsApp chats to iCloud, the iCloud Drive feature must first be enabled in the Settings app.
- Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
- Tap on your name at the top and press the “iCloud” option.
- Enable the toggle next to “iCloud Drive.” Scroll down on the same screen and make sure the toggle next to “WhatsApp” is enabled.
Note: you only need to perform the first three steps before backing up your chats for the first time.
- Open WhatsApp on your iPhone and tap on “Settings” at the bottom.
- Go to “Chats” followed by “Chat Backup.”
- Tap on “Back Up Now.”
If you want WhatsApp to automatically create and update the backup in the future, select the desired frequency under the Auto backup option instead of the Off option.
By default, videos aren’t included in the backup to reduce the size of the backup. If you want to include them as well, enable the toggle next to “Include videos.”
A few things to note about WhatsApp backups on iCloud:
- Your iPhone must have iOS 10 or later to create a WhatsApp backup on iCloud.
- There must be at least 2.05 times the space available on your iCloud account and iPhone than the size of the backup.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How can I export my WhatsApp chat history to a PDF?
Download the chat history in the “txt” format as shown above to export to, your PC. Open it in Word or a similar editor and click on “File → Save as” and select a destination. Choose PDF from the “Save as” drop-down box. Alternately, open it in Google Docs and go to “File → Download → PDF.”
2. Are there any limitations on the number of chats that can be exported?
You can export a chat multiple times. However, exported chats with media will only have up to 10,000 of the latest messages. Without media, you can export up to 40,000 messages.
3. How can I restore WhatsApp chats?
You can restore chats from a backup while registering the WhatsApp account. Install WhatsApp on a new device and make sure you are logged in to the same Google (Android) and iCloud (iPhone) accounts on the phone that were used for the backup. Register with the same phone number you use for WhatsApp. You will be asked if you want to restore the backup. Tap on “Restore.”
Our latest tutorials delivered straight to your inbox