Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

For MSN Messenger, is there a way to archive my conversations when I use a public computer or signed in somewhere as a guest user? Can I send the history to my computer automatically without opening the received files of that computer, keep it somewhere in the server somehow? (Without having to copy/paste it to my e-mail every time.)

Well, in the strictest sense, the answer is no ... MSN Messenger archives reside on the local machine, or perhaps the local network, period.

You can archive your conversations, and then take them with you, but a) it's not as easy as what you're asking for, and b) you may not want to do it, anyway.

MSN Messenger allows you to specify where the local archives are to be placed. Normally they're placed in a directory underneath your "My Documents" directory (with MSN Messenger 7.5, at least). You can customize that location in Tools, Options, and you may even be able to place them on another computer ... on the local network.

That's not very helpful if you're using a public computer, and the only other computers on the local network are other public computers. Once you return home, you can't get to those computers and that network.

So the only place you can save your conversations is on the local computer, or on the local network. How do you get to them at home? You can't, directly. The easiest alternative is, when you are done with your conversation, to locate the files that contain the history (the directory containing them is listed in your Messenger's Tools Options dialog), and email them to yourself as attachments. Then, when you get home, download those attachments to a safe place. MSN Messenger stores the message history in "XML" format, which means that they may be a little messy to ready, but at least you'll have them.

But wait! Before you do any of that, consider carefully whether you want to keep a message history at all when you're using someone else's or a public computer.

Do you remember to erase the history when you're done? If not, you've just left your entire conversation for just about anyone to read. And even if you do delete it, someone can come along after you, and "undelete" the saved messages file using data recovery tools.

My advice?

  • If you're really concerned about someone seeing your private IM conversations, don't use someone else's computer, and don't use public/shared computers.
  • Make sure that "save history" is turned off in MSN Messenger if you do use someone else's computer.
  • If you must have a record of your conversation, and you must do it on someone else's computer, then a) mail it to yourself when you are done, and b) delete saved log from the computer before you leave.

I don't want to sound alarmist, because in most cases, no one really cares what you are saying on-line. But, to be fair, sometimes you may find yourself in a situation where they do. When you use someone else's computer, you have no idea how secure it is. If your privacy really matters to you, you probably don't want to use it at all.

Article C2465 - November 20, 2005 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

January 1, 2006 10:58 AM

Leo, I saved the message history and emailed it to me as an attatchment but now when i try to open it after downloading i get this error message...

The XML page cannot be displayed
Cannot view XML input using XSL style sheet. Please correct the error and then click the Refresh button, or try again later.


The system cannot locate the resource specified. Error processing resource 'file:///C:/Documents and Settings/.....

what should i do now?


January 3, 2006 10:48 PM

In the same directory as the original message file you should find a ".xsl" file - probably MessageLog.xsl. Copy that to the same directory as the message file, and it should work.

January 6, 2006 6:27 PM

Erm I can't seem to figure out where my archived conversations are going. I can click on the view message history just fine, but after it asks if you wish to delete or archive I don't know where they go. Is there a way to go from the main menu and see where they are going?

hot potato
January 11, 2006 1:21 PM

I can't figure out how to 'tell' my msn email account to store my emails on my computer ------ msn gives NO directions!!! Grrr and help please

tyia email me at

Leo A. Notenboom
January 11, 2006 7:15 PM

Well, that's because MSN's web based email isn't meant to store things on your computer ... it's meant to store things on the web.

This article may help:

January 17, 2006 7:05 AM

I have a file titled "MessageLog.xsl" in the same folder as the rest of my archived conversations - yet I get the "The XML page cannot be displayed " error when trying to view history in the program. The folder location is the default one created by MSN messenger.

January 30, 2006 7:12 AM

I am not able to view my message history.I know where i'm saving the conversations and the archives are working just fine, i mean i'm able to view the conversations from the target folder of archives but not by right clicking the user ID and selecting 'view message history option'.if i'm doing that its just displaying some font size and shapes description on the top and beside it is written 'debug version' with 'SID' written below it.

February 10, 2006 7:42 AM

If you've recently upgraded to IE7, this issues seems to be common. The problem is not with MSN but with IE, which is what MSN Messenger uses to display those old messages.

February 16, 2006 5:09 PM

my friend gave me a convosation to read but it keeps coming up with the same message as everyone else.

The XML page cannot be displayed
Cannot view XML input using XSL style sheet. Please correct the error and then click the Refresh button, or try again later.

i have put it in with the messagelog.xsl file but it doesnt do a thing, does this mean i need my friends messagelog.xsl file or is there a way i can view this convosation without all the code??? i dont speak to my friend anymore so getting his messagelog file is next to impossible so if there was another way to view it without all the code that would be best thank

February 20, 2006 8:05 PM

Shi have you installed IE7?

February 21, 2006 10:19 AM

I found the fix:

pretty simple, you need to move the history folder. remember to change the setting in MSN to point to the new location

david kertesz
February 27, 2006 7:32 AM

i am getting the same error as everyone eles

March 6, 2006 4:02 AM

I have same problem tried to fix it with putting History on C or D drive, but doesn't work.
Uninstalled IE7 beta 2, uninstalled MSN 7.5, have now IE 6 SP2, and still doesn't work!
Any help ??

April 16, 2006 5:53 PM

Hi, I know one person on my msn list has been able to read my msn msg history with other people. This peson doesn't have physical access to my computer but is in the computer fiels. Is this possible as they have quoted numerous times conversations i have had with other people and i just thought that it was a coincidence well now it turns out the only way they could have is if they were able to read my message logs. Please advice as to how I can prevent something like that.

S & C
April 29, 2006 6:22 AM


Please help...I have noticed that on msn messenger, the "save all conversations" is checked. I want to save absolutely no conversations ever. When I access the tab "privacy" in msn, the page that comes up is unacessible, I am unable to delete the "save conversations" option. I haven't been able to find the answer to this problem in messenger help or on your site. Please please respond... to :-) Much appreciated.
S & C

May 7, 2006 9:38 AM

leo!! please help!! i have the feeling my boyfriend is getting on msn and yahoo messenger and talking to girls from other states and stuff. I think he talks to them for one night and then deletes them,(which means i have no proof if he is doing it) but all of his convos save on his own computer. he deleted yahoo off his computer to the best of his ability (msn is still there) but i know that yahoo could probably get recovered and used again. i know his password for msn and yahoo, is there any way AT ALL that i can get his im history sent to my computer.....??? thanks!

May 11, 2006 8:47 PM

Is it possible to remotely retrieve deleted IM archives, even for deactivated accounts?

Earl Harrison
May 30, 2006 5:07 AM

How do I prevent the saving of MSN conversations?

Earl Harrison
May 30, 2006 5:08 AM

How do I prevent the saving or my MSN conversations?

May 31, 2006 5:07 PM

I can't find the conversation that I saved on my msn messenger.....what is it saved under?
please help!

June 11, 2006 11:10 AM

I think that my mom's boyfriend is saving my msn conversations and reading through them. My computer is on our wireless network that we share. How can I make sure that he isn't saving them through his computer somehow?

August 30, 2006 3:49 PM

leo!!! please help me!!! my girlfriend is talking with other guy all the night. she stay far away from me and i cant check on her pc too. can i get her history send to my computer??? i got her msn username and password. thanks...

September 19, 2006 10:59 AM

I was wondering, if someone has my username and login for msn mesenger and logs in as me the same time that I'm already logged in, what will happen? will he be able to read my msn messages as they are sent? will i know that he's logged in as me if "I'm" already logged in or will his efforts to log in as me be refused?

thanks Leo

Leo Notenboom
September 20, 2006 8:55 PM

You should be logged out. Only one place can login as you at a time.

September 28, 2006 1:13 PM

Recently, I've seen Windows Player on someone's msn My Space blog. How do I get my Windows Player to display on mine?

October 15, 2006 10:30 AM

I could have done with a way of tracking my ex girlfriends conversations easily like these guys want. I suspected my girlfriend was two timing me with a guy at college, she spent all day with him, talked about him all the time and then spent hours talking to him on MSN at night. I heard a rumour from another of her college friends that she had two timed me, and was telling people at college she was with him. In the end I was so worked up I paid for and installed an application to track her convo's and was proved right. Her conversations were very sexual and they spoke about what they did. When I confronted her she denied it, but then admitted it when I showed her the message logs. She was more annoyed that I had tracked her conversations at all than me finding out, damn cheek. We've now split up so I would say to these guys, you may think you want to know, but do you really?. Think carefully before reading convo's and emails, you may not like what you find out.

October 23, 2006 10:32 AM

kevin wot was the program called u got to track the convos

angel merejo
January 18, 2007 1:32 PM

i can't get my messenger

March 19, 2007 4:42 PM

hey there. i have a bit of a problem. i recently changed my log on password(windows xp) i can not remember it at all. it seems like i typed something and have something else in mu head. is there any way i can retrieve this password, or even log in to access my files etc. my account is the only administator account.

April 7, 2007 2:36 AM

hi i want to no if i can save all convos from my msn addys not just 1 at a time i no how 2 do that i want 2 save all ofthem many thanks

April 26, 2007 12:18 PM

Leo, where does messenger store conversations on the computer. Can I look in my registry and see old conversations? I'm not saving them, just wondered if they were stored some where on the computer.

November 13, 2007 8:12 PM

just wondering if there was any way to save a copy of my msn conversations directly to my inbox or a subfolder of my hotmail account (the same one used for msn chatting)? thanks

August 29, 2008 12:58 PM

Can i see the chat history of MSN or Yahoo in a different computer not in the network?
I mean i log into a computer and later on see the chat history in a different computer.
As when u chat in Gtalk it gets saved in Gmail--Chats...Kindly help

October 8, 2008 12:32 AM

hi can anyone help me , evrytime i chat with my friend on msn , if i got to my history to read the chat again , all what she has said to me has gone , how can she delete what she has said on my history please can someone help me , thanks

August 10, 2009 4:38 PM

i want to ask something.Sorry that my English is not very well.
I want to save my instant messages.
I save them but i can't read them.
Can You Help Me Please.
How to read them.

December 10, 2009 6:23 PM

Hello All

Is it Possible to see the chat history( when we are connected in Lan Network ) of msn even when it is deleted from computer


Muhammad Saleem
May 24, 2011 4:31 AM

sir i have some problem that i work in a office as system administrator
i create 2 accounts 1 is Administrator it's my private account and 1 is employers guest account but in the guest account i can't save them chatting so please solve my this problem that how can i save chating in Administrator account?

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