The Instantly Disappearing MessageThe problem with instant messaging conversations is that they usually disappear as quickly as they popped up. While email leaves a permanent record, usually for good, and you know where to look and how to search your Gmail messages, chats may or may not be archived in an obtuse format in one of the seven instant messaging clients you have used.
Archive and Find Emails and Chats in Gmail
Not so with Gmail and Google Talk. All your chats, conducted either right within Gmail or using another program to connect to the Google Talk network, can be saved automatically to your Gmail account.
Saved chats appear under a special label, Chats, but they really act like email conversations. Instant messages thus archived in Gmail show up under the appropriate contact automatically, and they can be searched just like email conversations. First, you have to turn on saving your chat history, though.
Save Your Google Talk and Gmail Chat History in Gmail
To make Gmail record your instant messaging conversations through the Google Talk network:
- Select Settings from the top Gmail navigation bar.
- Go to the Chat tab.
- Make sure Save chat history in my Gmail account is selected under Chat history:.
- Click Save Changes.
You can access saved chat logs in any email program using IMAP.
Go "Off the Record"
If you'd rather not have a conversation or parts of it saved to your (and the other person's!) Gmail account, you can always go "off the record."
(Updated September 2011)