There are a number of reasons why you may want to preserve an archive of your instant messages. Perhaps you simply wish to be able to revisit old messages so that you can see exactly what a friend said to you, or to visit links that you didn't have a chance to visit when they were first sent. You can use your archive to show others exactly what you said in a certain conversation where your words have been taken out of context. If you use instant messaging to speak to business partners or potential clients, then you can even use your message archive as a means to keep a record of important conversations. Regardless of the reason that you want to keep an archive of your IM's, it's important that you know how to do so. Though the exact methods may vary slightly, it's a simple matter to turn on message archiving in popular IM clients such as Yahoo! Messenger, MSN Live Messenger and AOL Instant Messenger (AIM).
- Open the IM client that you wish to archive your messages with. Wait for the program to load, since you'll need to adjust the program settings in order to get it to start archiving messages instead of erasing them when you close an IM chat window.
- From the menu options, search for the menu item titled "Preferences" or "Options." Selecting this will cause a new window to open with a number of options that you can adjust. These options will allow you to alter the basic functioning of the IM client, letting you customize it to work exactly how you want it to work. Browse the options until you see the one titled "Archive" or "Messages." Select that option.
- Review your current archiving settings. You will have two or three options available to you in regards to how your IM client archives messages. The most common options are "Archive All Messages," "Archive Messages but Clear When Signing Out" and "Do Not Archive Messages," though each program will have its own way of describing these options. To turn on message archiving, you should select the first option, then click the OK button to set your preferences. You can then close the Preferences window and your IM client will start keeping an archive of your messages automatically.
If you decide later that you don't want to archive messages, you can change the archive settings using the exact same method. You can also edit your archive on a per-message basis, deleting messages when browsing the archive by selecting them with a right click and choosing the "Delete Message" option from the right-click menu.