Switched to Telegram after WhatsApp went down? Here's how to take your chat history

Millions of users are flocking to the alternative messaging app

epa08967950 A photo illustration shows the logo of social media messaging application Telegram on a computer screen, in Paris, France, 27 January 2021. The popular application (app) Whatsapp has faced backlash after announcing on 04 January a change to its privacy policy under which users widely interpreted that personal information would be shared with the app's parent company, Facebook. Although the policy change allegedly was only to affect interactions with business accounts, it prompted millions of users to migrate to rival messaging applications such as Signal and Telegram.  EPA/IAN LANGSDON
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After the confusion surrounding WhatsApp's updated privacy policy earlier this year, not to mention the recent outage of Facebook's instant messaging platform, alternative messaging apps have had a surge in users.

One popular alternative has become Telegram, which reportedly saw 70 million users join when WhatsApp went down for a few hours on Monday.

In response to its rise in popularity, the app added a feature that allows users to import their chat history from WhatsApp, from both individual and group discussions. This means if you're making the switch, you won't have to lose past conversations and you can continue from where you left off, as long as each WhatsApp user has a Telegram account.

The Telegram Messenger LLP app on a smartphone arranged in Hastings on Hudson, New York, U.S., on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. Big tech's decision to ban the Parler app and block former U.S. President Donald Trump is stoking support for alternative social networking sites and apps that bill themselves as promoting free speech and privacy. Photographer: Tiffany Hagler-Geard/Bloomberg
Telegram saw an influx in users when WhatsApp went down on Monday. Bloomberg

On iOS, the feature arrived with Telegram's version 7.4, and it's available for Android, too.

Chat histories can also be imported from Line and KakaoTalk.

How to import your chat history

To move a chat from WhatsApp on iOS, open the Contact Info or Group Info page, tap Export Chat, then choose Telegram in the Share menu. WhatsApp for iOS also lets you export chats directly from the chat list. To do so, swipe left on a chat, then choose '…' > Export Chat.

On Android, open a WhatsApp chat, tap on the three dots and choose More > Export Chat, then choose Telegram in the Share menu.

You can choose to import your chats with or without shared media.

The messages and media don't need to occupy extra space on your phone, either, says Telegram.

"Older apps make you store all data on your device – but Telegram can take up virtually no space while letting you access all your messages, photos and videos anytime you need them."

To free up space and control your cache size, Telegram advises doing so in Settings > Data and Storage > Storage Usage.

Any imported messages will have a small "imported" label on them and will tell you when they were sent, and when they were moved over to Telegram. These can be seen by all chat participants.

It's also useful to note that messages will appear in the order in which they were imported, rather than when they were originally sent.