Social-media websites are awash with throwaway thoughts and witty ripostes, and none more so than Twitter – dozens of 140-character tweets whizz by in the blink of an eye.
Of course, you’ll probably be only too happy to forget those bon mots sent when tired and emotional but sometimes you may want to retrieve old tweets.
For example, perhaps you posted a link to something last week but now need a reminder of what it was. Or maybe you’d like to take a nostalgic trip through your Twitter timeline to see what you were thinking three years ago.
It isn’t actually obvious how to achieve either so read on to find how to retrieve your old Tweets.
Step 1: Visit your own timeline
If you want to download every tweet you’ve ever sent skip to Step 4, or read on for a quick way to read recent tweets.
Scrolling through your own timeline to view old tweets sounds obvious but you’d be forgiven for not knowing how to do it.
There are a couple of ways. If you’re logged in to Twitter, skip to Step 3. If not, simply visit your own timeline page. For example, BT’s timeline is at www.twitter.com/bt_uk. Yours will be at www.twitter.com/yourtwitterusername.
Step 2: Now just scroll down
You can now scroll down the timeline to take a trip back in time. As you reach the bottom of the page, more tweets should be automatically retrieved and displayed.
Sometimes Twitter fails to retrieve old tweets in this way (perhaps because the internet connection was temporarily unavailable). If that happens, click the ‘more’ button.
If a timer icon appears, just wait – Twitter is busy retrieving older tweets.
Step 3: Click ‘Me’ or ‘TWEETS’
If you’re logged in to Twitter then you can view your own timeline by clicking the Me icon at the top of the screen or the TWEETS panel, just to the left of the main timeline.
Now, simply scroll through your tweets as explained in Step 2.
Step 4: Request your Twitter archive
It is possible to request an archive of every tweet you’ve ever sent, if you have the stomach to wade through all the nonsense you’ve ever aired on Twitter, that is.
Start by logging in, then click the cog icon at the top right and choose Settings. Scroll down to the Content section and click the ‘Request your archive’ button.
A box will appear to confirm your request – click ‘Close’.
Step 5: Open your email inbox
The archive will be sent to the email address that’s associated with your Twitter account. Be warned that the archive may not arrive immediately – you might need to wait for several hours before a message appears in your inbox.
When the message appears, open it then click the blue ‘Go now’ button.
Step 6: Download the archive
A new web browser tab will open to allow you to download your Twitter archive, which contains every tweet you’ve ever sent.
Click the ‘Download’ button and then wait – the file shouldn’t take more than a few seconds to download.
Step 7: Open the archive
The archive is supplied as a compressed file known as a Zip file. With most versions of Windows the contents of a Zip file can be extracted by right-clicking it and choosing the Extract option – so do that now.
Inside, you’ll find a bunch of files and folders. The one you want is called ‘tweets.csv’ – the .csv part stands for ‘comma-separated value’, which is a type of file best opened in a spreadsheet program such as Microsoft Excel.
If you don’t have Excel installed, download the free OpenOffice suite instead.
Alternatively, double-click the extracted ‘index.html’ file to view the archive in your default web browser: use the year and month links on the right-hand side to navigate your timeline quickly or use the search bar at the top to find a particular Tweet.