Frequently asked questions

General instructions

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How do I open the messages in Google Drive?

Google Drive cannot open files inside a zip; instead, it just shows a list of them. To extract the files, download the entire collection to a Mac or Windows computer using the down-arrow button in the top right:

Google Drive screenshot

Why are messages missing?

Sometimes messages can go missing because the sender is marked as a spam number, but missing messages usually result from carrier customizations that Text Collector can’t read. Check whether your cell provider is on the list of carriers with known problems.

Sometimes there are workarounds that will allow Text Collector to access the messages. Other times, you may need to look into alternatives, such as screenshots.

Can I export selected conversations?

You can export a single conversation after making a collection. When viewing the conversation you want in Text Collector, tap “Share,” and you will see an option to share either all conversations or just that one.

How much does it cost?

The current price is $2 US. Google Play calculates the exchange rate if you’re not in the United States and might add sales tax, so you’ll see the final local price at checkout.

This purchase unlocks the “sharing” feature; that lets you share as many collections as you like and use Text Collector on all your phones, so long as they all use the same Google account.

How do I purchase?

Share a collection; if it’s your first time sharing, Text Collector will prompt you to purchase.

Why does it keep crashing?

On Android 5 and earlier, you might see the “Unfortunately Text Collector has stopped” message, or Text Collector might simply close while packaging a collection for sharing. This happens because early versions of Android’s PDF generator sometimes crash when rendering pictures.

Crash dialog screenshot

There are several possible workarounds:

  • Try again, sometimes the error just goes away
  • If you are trying to export all conversations, try one conversation at a time instead
  • Try with a smaller collection
  • Turn on the “external images” in Text Collector settings, then make a new collection

Using external images should definitely get past the problem, but the collection won’t look as nice because it makes pictures separate files instead of inline with the text.

The phone may give you an option to report the error; please do report it, but Google gives me no way for me to reply to those reports. If you want a reply, please write

What do I with an “out of space” error?

Usually, you’ll either need to use date filters to make a smaller collection, or free up space on the phone. See out of space for details.

Where is the collection on my phone?

It’s in protected (“internal”) storage.

Protected storage means that other apps can’t read it; if they could, apps not authorized to read your messages would be able to get to them. This also means, however, that you can’t directly copy it off the phone without root.

To export a collection off the phone, use the share feature. Remember you can share with yourself.

How can I save messages on the SD card?

If you don’t care about keeping messages in protected storage, you can copy them off the phone by USB or print them directly from the phone. To do this, use Text Collector’s share feature to save them in “external storage.”

To save in external storage with the share feature, install a third-party file manager that can accept files through Android’s sharing mechanism. Amaze and X-plore are good options; when installed, they add “Save as…” and “Copy to” options, respectively, to the application picker. When you go to “share” your messages, the application picker will look something like this:

Share app picker with Amaze and X-plore options

If you installed and SD card in the phone, you can save to it, but an SD card is not required.

When will you display emoji?

Unfortunately, not soon.

Showing emoji in printable text messages requires entirely replacing the stock Android PDF library and dealing with complicated non-portable color fonts. That will take a long time. Similar issues limit Text Collector to display only Latin-based scripts.

What about iPhone?

Apple does not allow third-party apps to access text messages, so an app like Text Collector cannot be made for iPhone. Software that extracts iPhone text messages usually accesses them via an iCloud backup. See Alternatives to Text Collector.