How to capture email, text and chat conversations from a screen

mobile burst applicationsRecently I wrote that when going through and organising DB’s effects after his death, I came across a printed copy of our first email conversation that he had hoarded away with other paperwork. My messages had been sent from an email account that I had forgotten about and hadn’t used for over ten years. When I decided to log into the account again to reclaim our old correspondence, I realised that the company had since been acquired twice, renamed and that my membership no longer existed. Later conversations were lost. At the time, it was heart wrenching.

So I’ve been on a mission to avoid the same situation happening again, looking into apps and services that exist to help people capture correspondence via text, chat and email.

You can get email, phone, text and chat management systems that archive and back up all correspondence (particularly useful for business or for legal purposes) but the options below are for capturing specific conversations you want to keep as memories. They are mostly straightforward and also eye catching.

Surprisingly, there seem to be relatively few options out there but here some that I’ve discovered with costs ranging from free to those sitting on the higher side of the price spectrum. If you are aware of others that you can share, please post below. I’d love to hear about them.

A heads up. These services do not work if you are trying to capture conversations with someone who has a memorialised Facebook account (what is Facebook memorialisation?). Memorialised accounts do not show up in the search functions of the services below integrating Facebook, I suspect because Facebook does not provide access. As a result, it’s not possible to download the conversations you’ve had with deceased Facebook members whose pages are memorialised, even if you’re trying to do so from your own account.

Capturing Text Conversations

Screenshot My Texts SMS – Android, approx. AU$1.92

This is a downloadable app from the Google store and will allow you to capture up to 10 texts in a text conversation on an Android phone. According to the description, the messages do not have to be consecutive so you can choose to include the most interesting parts of the conversation thread. You can also edit the text thread to remove the time and date lines as well as the names and numbers of the correspondents.

txt-book – Android, approx. AU$1.06 / iOS, US$68

txt-book is a service that turns your text message conversations into books – in PDF format. You can also elect to have the book printed and bound with their book binding service. There are two main publishing formats – conversation or storybook styles.

It’s a more affordable option for Android users. By downloading the app from the Google store, you can convert your text conversation into a PDF book design very quickly and pay approximately AU$1.06 once you’re happy with it. iPhone users need to fill out a form and the company will do the design work behind the scenes. As a result, the fee is higher and there are certain restrictions. With the iPhone version, photos cannot accompany the messages and when selecting a date range, it’s not possible to delete unwanted or uninteresting SMS messages within the text thread.

A good overview of the service for Android and iPhone users is provided towards the bottom of the the txt-book homepage.

stitchit-text-message-capture-conversation-memory-digitalStitch it! iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch, Basic version: Free, Pro Upgrade: approx. AU$3.79

An easier alternative for iOS users is Stitch It! You take screenshots of your text conversation (or email/social conversation threads for that matter) using your phone then upload them into the app. Once done, you stitch the screenshots together to create one seamless image of a text message conversation.

Stitching the screenshots together requires some work on your part but the app itself is quite easy to use. You can crop screenshots and change their order. You can also redact private information for the final saved image (in the event you wanted to share it). The final image is saved to your photo library. The free app allows you to stitch together a conversation that’s three screenshots long. Any longer and it prompts you to upgrade to the Pro version.


Capturing email, social and chat conversations

Memeoirs – from €40 for paperback

Memeoirs lets you choose conversations from Facebook, WhatsApp or email (including from Gmail, client) and have these published in a published book format. You select the conversations you want included in the book by person and/or timeframe.

Currently, only images included in a WhatsApp conversation can accompany the messages. There are several customisable aspects. For instance, you select the images and descriptions that you want included on the front and back covers.

Prices start from €40 for a paperback or €60 for a hard copy book. Postage is free if you ask for standard mail (even for international) although you can book Fedex shipping for a flat fee of €20.

MySocialBook for Facebook – From US$19.90


Example of what’s included in MySocialBook – photos, wall messages etc.

With MySocialBook, you can build and create a book made up of your Facebook memories by selecting a date range and the type of content that you want included. While it won’t include Facebook private messages, you can opt to include your status and wall updates as well as any friend conversations that they encourage. As with other book Memeoirs, you can customise the front and back covers of your book.

Telestream Screenflow, Screencasting and video – From US$99

I’m adding this product because, from my research to date, it is impossible to capture fullpage desktop screenshots of online conversations in Gmail or Yahoo or even of desktop Facebook messages. Screen capture technology such as SnagIt, ordinarily very good, doesn’t support web based email and free add ons to Firefox such as Pearl Crescent, can’t do full page capture of this type of email either.

If you are in a situation where you would like to record scrolling conversations on a desktop screen – whether in email or on another social platform – Telestream Screenflow is a great downloadable software which is easy to use and offers useful tools such as page cropping, image, text as well as audio inclusion. Once you’ve created a video or screencast of the activity running on your desktop, you can elect directly to webpages, social media or save to your computer drive. Download a free trial before committing to purchase.





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