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Everyone’s done it – deleted a Facebook message they meant to keep (sometimes the trigger-happy clicker finger can cause serious remorse.) Adios, sayonara, people think they’ll never see their messages again.

But this is not the case. That’s right, a time machine isn’t necessary to retrieve deleted messages. Facebook knows the accidental deletion of messages can happen and they’ve created an easy way for anyone with an account to go back and view everything they’ve done on their account.

Must Read: Why You Should Archive Your Facebook Messages and Not Delete Them

Recover deleted Facebook messages from a downloaded archive

In order to receive deleted messages in Facebook, you’ll first need to log-in to the Facebook account you want to retrieve messages from.

logging-into-facebook

Go to “Account Settings”

After you’re logged in, go to “Account Settings” in the top right corner of the window.

navigating-to-account-settings

Once the “General Account Settings” page loads, click on “Download a copy of your Facebook data” at the bottom of the page.

clicking-on-the-download-copy-link

Download your archive

After you click on the “Download a copy…” link, you’ll be brought to a page where you can download everything you’ve done on your Facebook account since the birth of your account. Click on the green button that says “Start My Archive.”

clicking-the-start-my-archive-button

After you click the green button, the small dialog box “Request My Download,” will open, informing you it can take awhile (typically 2-3 hours) to gather all of your information. Click “Start My Archive” again to start the gathering process.

warning-box-when-requesting-download

And that, you’ll be told to go to the email account associated with your Facebook profile where a download link to your archive will be sent. Again, it may take 2-3 hours to arrive. Once it does, click on the link in the email to download your archive.

archive-download-link-in-email

And before you can download the archive, you will need to reenter your password.

reentering-password-to-download

Finally, click on “Download Archive” button that appears after entering your password. Your archive will download to your computer. Unzip it, then open the file named “index.”

The file containing your archived data will open and click on “Messages” and all of your past messages will load.

messages-link-in-archive

To easily find the message you’re looking for, search by keyword. Press “CTRL + F” or “F3” to access the keyword search process, and that’s it. Once you find the message, copy and paste the contents into a Word document to save.

You’ve got to love Facebook for providing such an in-depth archiving feature. There are a myriad of reasons people need to retrieve deleted messages, and this feature fills this need. Just remember, it can take a few hours to retrieve your archive, so plan accordingly. For more info on recovering deleted data in Facebook, visit their Help Center, and for a great way to recover deleted data in general, check out this interesting blog post.

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Tiffiny Carlson has been a freelance writer for over 10 years. She began writing while still in college, studying for her BA in Mass Communications at Augsburg College. She has written for dozens of magazines, online publications and blogs. Her writing covers a wide range of content from politics and technology to lifestyle subjects. She was a contributor for over 2 years for TopTenREVIEWS.com and the political site, Evote.com. Hailing from Minneapolis, Tiffiny loves spending time in the great outdoors and enjoying the beauty of all four seasons (with her smartphone never too far out of reach).