Writecombination Social Media
by Andrew Knowles

How to find every tweet you ever posted

How to use the new Twitter archive tool

In early 2013, Twitter is rolling out a new function that lets you download a list of every tweet you’ve ever sent.

I heard about the new Twitter archive function late last year and I was curious as to how it would work. The other day, the ‘Your Twitter Archive’ section appeared on one of my Twitter accounts and I immediately downloaded nine months of tweets.

Until the archive function arrived, the only way of going back to old tweets was to scroll down through your ‘Tweets’ list on Twitter.com. That’s okay if the words you’re looking for were sent yesterday, but looking back through several months is painful, if not impossible.

Why would you want a record of all your tweets?

With the impact of the average tweet dying away in seconds, and with so many containing inconsequential nonsense (unless you’re up there with the Dalai Lama), where’s the value in a record of the probably thousands of tweets that you’ve sent?

Here’s why I might want to go back of over my old tweets:

  • To find that tweeted photograph that I’ve failed to keep a copy of anywhere else, despite my best intentions to be a better curator of images.
  • To prove to myself, or someone else, that I really did tweet a particular message at a particular time.
  • To find that cleverly-worded message I used months ago that it’s safe to reuse now, when it might receive more appreciation. Yes, it’s lazy to recycle tweets but it happens.
  • Purely for the purpose of maintaining a record of all my tweets, just in case I need it.

You can probably think of other reasons why you might want a record of all your tweets.

What does the new Twitter archive give you?

The archive puts a copy of all the tweets you’ve ever sent, including RTs (retweets), onto your computer. The archive does not include DMs (direct messages).

Some thought has gone into the presentation of your Twitter archive, which you access through your browser, even though the information is held on your own computer. The tweets are presented very much as they are on your live Twitter account, with the most recent at the top.

In addition to all your tweets, the archive gives you a visual indicator of the volume of tweets you’ve sent out each month over the life of your account. This indicator is also a useful navigational tool, allowing you to hop from one month to another.

You’re provided with the standard Twitter search box at the top of the page, which now searches all the tweets in your archive, bringing back all those that contain the word or exact phrase you searched for.

How to use the Twitter archive

The new archive function is really easy to find. When you’re logged into Twitter.com, just go to ‘Settings’ (click on the cog symbol, top right, and select it). Scroll down and beneath the section where you select your country, you should spot ‘Your Twitter Archive’.

Not there? Oh dear, the function hasn’t been enabled on your account yet. Wait patiently and it should arrive in the next few weeks, or perhaps months.

If it is there, press the big ‘Request your archive’ button. You’ll be told to wait while the archive is prepared and when that’s complete, you’ll receive an email to the address linked to that account. This process will probably take seconds.

The email will give you another button to press that downloads the archive as a zip (compressed) file. You’ll have to unzip, or extract the contents of the file, into a suitable location on your computer. (If you’re unfamiliar with how to unzip a file in Windows 7, this video may help).

Once you’ve unzipped the file, click on the index.html file to open the archive in your browser, and enjoy reading all those tweets you'd long forgotten that you'd sent.

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