Sync Skype Chat History on Multiple Machines With Dropbox

Skype is awesome. We use it a ton here at Automattic, and it’s my main communication service for staying in touch with friends and family who are spread out all over the world. It’s also still the best text IM client out there. And now with the iPhone app, I can make int’l calls on mobile without thinking about it.

The one issue though I’ve had lately, is that I rely on Skype so much, that when I use a second machine I find myself looking through Skype chat history for a link or reference, only to realize that it’s stored locally on another machine.

In my quest to find an ideal backup solution, I’ve been testing Dropbox which allows you to sync files between multiple machines. So I took a crack at trying to get my Skype chat history to sync. A quick google search brought up this post which I followed:

Step 1) Quit the Skype application on all machines
Step 2) Move the "main" Skype chat history files to the Dropbox directory:
"mv ~/Library/Application\ Support/Skype ~/Dropbox/"
Step 3) Create a symlink from the original folder to the Dropbox folder:
"ln -s ~/Dropbox/Skype/ ~/Library/Application\ Support/Skype"
Step 4) On your secondary machines, remove the /Library/Application\ Support/Skype folder, and just insert the symlink:
"ln -s ~/Dropbox/Skype/ ~/Library/Application\ Support/Skype"

And it works ! One issue to be aware of: If you are logged-in and running Skype on multiple machines at once, you can get file conflicts and Dropbox will create secondary files – which kills the whole sync idea. So for this to work, you need to quit Skype before you plan on using it on another machine — which isn’t a bad idea anyway since leaving it open just means missed messages.

And lastly, I posted some of this to the Dropbox forum and one member there recommended a slightly different method where: “The original stays where it is. Without moving it, one creates a symlink. Its symlink goes into the Drobox folder.” I tried that method early on, and at least with Skype, the chat history kept getting written locally and never updating the Dropbox folder.

So for now this is working nicely for me. I do wonder if in the future Skype would ever offer up a secure way to store chat history with them. I also did see mention of a new service that tackles this issue for IM history in general called im-hisotry.com — looks interesting but haven’t tested so far as it’s Windows and Linux only.

For anyone thinking of trying the symlink method, as with anything like this, please backup your files before attempting this, as YMMV.

26 thoughts on “Sync Skype Chat History on Multiple Machines With Dropbox

  1. Hi Raanan,

    Unfortunately keeping the original files and making a link inside dropbox folder was my first attempt too, but skype is not the only program behaving like this.

    Epiphany, Pidgin and others don’t like to find symlinks as their cfg dirs, so they always delete it and recreate an empty folder as you reported.

  2. There’s another great solution: http://www.g-recorder.com. G-Recorder saves your Skype calls and chat history in your Gmail account, so merged from any number of machines in chronological order. Old chat history and new messages automatically. Combining them with recorder Skype calls into conversations. It’s a new product of the same team that developed IM-History service.

  3. Pali Madra says:

    I know this would be a perfect n00b question (but face it guys the world is full of them) “how to do this on Windows machine”

  4. Oldie but a goodie. Still works like a charm. I made a slight adjustment to your Dropbox path to put the logs in the /Dropbox/Private/ folder for good measure. I don’t think it’s needed since technically only the /Public/ folder is public, but you never know who’s looking around your Dropbox.

    Also did something similar with Adium to share chat transcripts. Here’s a link to those instructions: http://www.ruizs.org/archives/80/

    I suspect similar things can be done with many different apps, since the methods outlined in both processes are practically identical.

    Thanks Raanan! 🙂

    • cool.

      One odd thing. On one of my older machines I booted up Skype the other day (no dropbox sync) and all these messages floated in — as if were trying to sync on it’s own the past few days. I wonder if Skype is saving some chat data these days — or was that always the case for open chat windows ?

      • Before I used your method above, my laptop did the same thing (trying to catch up) but it did it sporadically and actually cleared out existing conversations. I ended up with a mish-mash of discussion that was completely out of order.

        Using your method ensures that everything stays completely in sync between multiple machines with no hiccups or delays.

  5. BSkillman says:

    Hey there, I just read your solution to syncing Skype to multiple computers and while I’d love to try it I have one slight problem: I don’t know where the Skype chat history is actually saved on my computer. I’ve been searching for it for about a half hour poring through the usual user files and temp data (I have Win Vista on this computer and Win7 on my main) but I still haven’t been able to find it even though I’m a pretty tech-savvy person. Any help on this would be awesome.

    Thanks!
    BSkillman

    • I’ve been on Macs for a while, but I think on Windows it should be stored in \Documents and settings\*your windows user name*\application data\skype or something similar.

    • What @Raanan Bar-Cohen says is correct for XP.

      For windows 7 its: C:\Users\(windows user name)\AppData\Roaming\Skype\(skype user name), so for Bob with skype account bob_124 it would be in C:\Users\Bob\AppData\Roaming\Skype\bob_124\.

  6. Yes, but I’ve found symlinking your Linux and Windows Skype profiles doesn’t work too well. I’ve even tried it with just the chatsync folders to no avail. They are just entirely different formats of data.

  7. Wade McNary says:

    I switched Macs, and wanted to transfer my Skype chats to the new machine. I moved the folder username/Library/Application Support/skypename from the old computer to the new one, but the chat history did not appear in Skype. Any idea how to do this?

  8. Nitin says:

    Hi,
    Can you provide any help/links for doing this with iPhone.
    I can do above settings on my office PC and my home Mac.
    But, I also use Skype on the go on iPhone.

    Thanks!

  9. Hi, Thank you for your posts.
    am desperatly trying to copy chat history from Iphone4, I don’t even need to sync, but I need it in a readable format all together.
    It’s been 24hrs I am looking for solution: can’t copy conversation, don’t know where to find a main.db file on the phone, can’t find anything through itunes back up… HELP!!!
    Thanks
    Sophie

    • Hi Sophie, i don’t know if you found the way to copy your chat history from your Iphone, but, I’m in the same situation and I still searching the way to print chat history from my Iphone… Can you help me please if you got the solution? Thanks a lot!!!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s