Use Vault to search Hangouts Chat


Vault is for administrators and legal personnel. Vault won't work properly until your G Suite administratorsets up your account. 


Once you create a matter, you can use Vault to search Hangouts Chat messages.

Things to know before you search

Before you search, you should understand the following. For more information about searching for data, see the Vault Search FAQ.

Files shared with Hangouts Chat users may be stored in Drive

When someone uses Hangouts Chat to share Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, or Forms, Hangouts Chat inserts a link rather than attaching a copy of the file to the message. Because the original file is stored in Drive, it isn't included when you retain, hold, search, or export chat messages.

For non-Google files that are directly attached to a chat message, Vault indexes most text-based file types (for example, files with .pdf, .xslx, and .docx extensions). These attachments are included when you search and export chat messages, and they are covered by chat retention rules and holds.

Vault can preview a maximum of 1000 messages per conversation

While Vault can export as many messages as your search will yield, previews are limited to 1000 messages. If you want to preview a large number of messages, use search terms and other criteria to reduce the results to smaller groups of messages.

Vault retrieves a conversation only if a searched participant sends at least one message
Vault returns only DMs and conversations where a participant has sent at least one message. Conversations where a participant may have viewed messages but didn't respond aren't included in search results.
Held data searches don't include rooms unless a user on hold sends a message
When you search held data in a matter, Vault returns a conversation from a room only if a user on hold sent at least one message.
Only conversations in rooms and DMs sent with history on are searchable

Conversations in rooms are always searchable in Vault. However, Vault can search only DMs that were sent with history tuned on. A G Suite admin can control whether history is on or off, or they can allow users to decide.

Search for messages in Hangouts Chat

  1. Create a new matter or click on an existing matter.
  2. Click Search in the left pane, and then click Hangouts Chat as the type of data to search.
  3. Choose a Source:
    • All data—Search all messages in your organization.
    • Held data—Search all messages on hold for the matter.
    • Unprocessed data—Search content that we have identified as partially processed.
  4. Click Hangouts Chat as the type data to search.
  5. Select a Search method:
    • Users—Enter accounts to search up to 5,000 Vault users in the domain. 
    • Organizational Unit—Search within a specific organizational unit. If you choose one with suborganizational units, all of the suborganizational units will be searched. The organizational unit must have fewer than 5,000 members. 
  6. (Optional) Check the box to include results from rooms​. Vault searches a room only if a searched account sent messages to the room.
  7. (Optional) Enter a sent date range:
    Note: If you enter dates, Vault returns all conversations that have messages within that date range and match your query terms. Results may also include messages that match query terms but occur outside of your date range.
    • If you enter a start date, Vault returns all messages sent on or after the date you entered.
    • If you enter an end date, Vault returns all messages sent on or before the date you entered.
  8. (Optional) choose a time zone, and Vault will restrict the search to the time zone you select. However, search results are displayed and exported in GMT. 
  9. (Optional) Use Terms to specify one or more search terms. Use search operators for complex searches.
  10. Click one of the following:
    • Search—to perform a search.
    • Export—to skip preview and immediately export the search results.
  11. (Optional) Click the Search down arrow to:
    1. Reset—to clear the search form.
    2. Duplicate search form—to open another search form under the current form, prepopulated with the information you've already entered.

Preview Hangouts Chat search results

Search preview includes the following:

  • Snippet—a brief synopsis of the conversation.
  • Owner—participants in an exchange of DMs or the room in which a conversation took place. 
  • Last sent—the date of the last message. If a user edits a message, it can change the last sent date. However, deleting messages has no effect on this date.

When you open a message, the entire conversation is displayed. Only the most recent 1000 messages are included in the preview in very long conversations. You can't preview earlier messages from the thread. However, all messages that match your search criteria are included when you export.

Note: Vault exports only the messages that match your search terms. Go back and modify your search terms if you need to export additional messages from Hangouts Chat.

Export Hangouts Chat messages

When your search has yielded the results you need, you can: 

  1. Export search results.
  2. Analyze the exported files.
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