Turn chat history on or off for an organization

As an administrator, you can control whether to keep chat history for users in your organization. You can set the default and also let users change their history setting for each conversation.

Important: The following applies for direct messages and group messages, not spaces. Learn how to turn history on for spaces.

The chat history settings for your organization are in the Google Admin console. Learn more about history settings for chat.

To turn Chat history on or off your organization, follow the video or the steps below.

Turn chat history on or off for an organization

  1. Sign in to your Google Admin console.

    Sign in using an account with super administrator privileges (does not end in @gmail.com).

  2. In the Admin console, go to Menu and then Appsand thenGoogle Workspaceand thenGoogle Chat.
  3. Click History for chats.
  4. Under Organizational Units, select the domain or organizational unit you want to apply settings to.
  5. Select history On or Off.

    • If you turn history On, you can use Vault to control how long messages are retained. Messages will disappear after the Vault retention period (if you set one).

    • If you turn history Off, messages are deleted after 24 hours. Vault can't hold, retain, or search direct messages that are sent with history turned off.

    • Turning history off does not hide content from scans to detect sensitive data or abuse. See “History details” below for more information.
  6. To let users change their history setting, check Allow users to change their history setting.
  7. Click Save.

History details

Message retention between history settings changes

History changes apply only to new messages. For example:

  • If chat history is on in a conversation, only new messages will be saved.
  • If chat history is off, old messages that were previously saved are still saved.

You can learn about Chat history retention with history on or off here.

History settings for users in different data regions

If history is forced on, people in different data regions can’t chat. (History is forced on if History for chats is On and Allow users to change their history setting is not selected.) If you allow users to change their history setting, history will automatically be turned off when people from different data regions chat.

Message auditing if history is off

When history is off, data is not reported in the Audit report for direct messages except when messages are associated with Data Loss Prevention (DLP) incidents. Chat DLP incidents are logged in the Audit report for all messages, including those sent with history off. The DLP incident log points to the message, and admins can view the message until it’s deleted in 24 hours. After that point, the incident log remains with a record that the message was deleted. 

When history is off, a message with external participants may be preserved longer than 24 hours if a user flags it for abuse or the message is reported to Google for spam, phishing, or malware.

Even if chat history is turned off, it’s possible that a separate copy of the conversation can be saved. For example, the message might be forwarded to Gmail or saved using a 3rd-party client.

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