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How to hang on to those old Google Hangouts chats

Google Hangouts to Google Chat logos
(Image credit: Google)

Google is notoriously known for shutting down projects. One such casualty includes Google Hangouts, the tech giant's mediocre multi-platform messaging app. Google has upgraded its Hangouts platform and merged it with Google Chat. Even though this is a sort of relaunch or merger of the older platform, all your conversations from Hangouts will not transfer to Chat automatically.

If you happen to have chats that you value in the now-defunct Hangouts app, here's how you can save them. Hangouts for the web will be inaccessible from November 1, 2022, onwards. Users only have until January 1, 2023, to download or transfer all their Hangouts data, so it's best you act now.

How to save old Google Hangouts chats

Saving or migrating all your data from Hangouts can only be done on the web via Google Takeout. Grab your PC, laptop, or Chromebook to follow these instructions.

1. Go to takeout.google.com.

2. Login with your Google Hangouts account.

3. Click Deselect all.

(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central)

4. Find and select Hangouts.

(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central)

5. Scroll to the bottom and click Next step.

(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central)

6. Choose your download destination, file type, frequency, and file size, and hit the Create export button. Bear in mind that Hangouts is shutting down so choosing any frequency other than one export is useless.

(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central)

You can only export a copy of your Google Hangouts data in .zip or .tgz formats, and any file larger than 2GB is automatically split into multiple files. As for the save location, Google offers to email you a download link when it's ready or transfer the data to one of four cloud storage platforms: Google Drive, Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, and Box.

Once you have selected everything and started the process, Google will compile all your Hangouts data and send it to your preferred save destination. Depending on the size of your data, the amount of time taken by this step greatly varies across users. Don't worry about it, though, Google will notify you via email whenever your Hangouts data is prepped up and ready to be downloaded, so you won't miss a thing.

Understanding the Google Hangouts to Chat transition

Google has had a long, rocky road with its Hangouts closure. Users were not pleased when the company first started transitioning them over to Google Chat. Even though Hangouts was never really as popular as some other messaging apps such as WhatsApp, it had a sufficient user base. Chat, according to many users, felt like a "downgrade" from Hangouts.

Following much turmoil, Google continued to migrate users over to Chat in a "phased migration," which has now been ongoing for over two years. January will mark the final point in the painfully elongated death of Google Hangouts. Hopefully, Google will successfully achieve its aim to create a better, more unified messaging platform that can compete against services like Slack.

Namerah Saud Fatmi
Contributing Writer

Namerah Saud Fatmi is a contributing writer for Android Central. She has a passion for all things tech & gaming and has been an honorary Goodreads librarian since 2011. When she isn't writing, she can be found chasing stray cats and dogs in the streets of Dhaka or slaying dragons in the land of Skyrim. You can reach her on Twitter @NamerahS.