Turn chat history on or off for users

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. 

The chat history settings for Google Chat and classic Hangouts are combined in the Google Admin console. There's now one setting to control chat history for your organization. Learn more

  1. Sign in to your Google Admin console.

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

  2. From the Admin console Home page, go to Appsand thenGoogle Workspaceand thenGoogle Chat and classic Hangouts.
  3. Click History for chats.
  4. Under Organizational Units, select the domain or organizational unit you want to apply settings to.
  5. Turn 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.

    Note: If your organization uses both Chat and classic Hangouts, and you don’t allow users to change their history setting, there may be times users can’t join or stay in a Chat space. To learn more, visit Set a space history option for users.
  7. Click Save.

History details

  • Chat history settings apply to direct messages and group messages. If your organization has both Chat and classic Hangouts (that is, your chat setting is “Chat preferred” or “Chat and classic Hangouts”), then Allow users to change their history setting also applies to unthreaded spaces. History is always on in spaces with threaded conversations and can never be changed. 
  • History changes apply only to new messages. For example, If you turn chat history on, only new messages will be saved. If you turn chat history off, old messages that were previously saved are still saved.
  • 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.
  • 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 is now in beta.) 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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