Guides How to export Slack conversations and data

How to export Slack conversations and data

Last updatedJuly 1, 2024
AuthorKai Forsyth

If you’re using Slack for workplace collaboration or running a Slack community, there may come a time when you need to export your data. Whether it’s for compliance, legal discovery, data analysis, or simply creating a backup, having a solid understanding of Slack’s export capabilities is crucial.

In this guide, we’ll dive into the different types of data you can export from Slack, the step-by-step process for initiating exports, and important considerations for handling exported data. We’ll also discuss some key limitations and challenges to be aware of, particularly for those using Slack to build customer communities.

Understanding Slack’s export capabilities

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how to export, it’s important to understand what data you can actually export from Slack. The available export options depend on your Slack subscription plan:

  • Free/Pro Plans: With these plans, you can export data from public channels, but not private channels or direct messages (DMs). The exported data will include messages and links to files, but only for the last 90 days.

  • Business+/Enterprise Grid Plans: These paid plans allow you to export data from all channels (public and private) as well as DMs. There are no time restrictions, so you can export your complete message history.

Regardless of your plan, Slack allows you to export several types of data:

  • Messages: This includes all threaded messages, posts, and snippets.
  • Files: Slack exports links to files that have been uploaded and shared within conversations.
  • User Information: Details about members such as names, email addresses, and account settings.
  • App Data: If you use Slack apps like polls or task managers, you can often export that data too.

It’s important to note that the depth and breadth of your exports will depend on both your Slack plan and your workspace’s specific configuration settings.

How to export Slack data

The actual process for initiating a Slack data export differs slightly based on your subscription plan, however in both cases you will need to be an admin of your Slack workspace.

Free, Pro, and Business+ plans

  1. Click your workspace name in the top left to open the menu.
  2. Select Settings & administration, then Workspace settings.
  3. Click Import/Export Data in the top right.
  4. Go to the Export tab.
  5. Choose your desired date range and export format (JSON is standard).
  6. Click Start Export.
  7. You’ll receive an email notification when your export is ready to download.

Enterprise Grid plans

  1. Click your workspace name in the top left to open the menu.
  2. Select Settings & administration, then Workspace settings.
  3. Click Exports under the Security section.
  4. Choose the type of export you want to initiate: All users, Channel-based, or Date range.
  5. Select your desired options and click Start Export.
  6. You’ll receive an email once your export file is prepared.

For more detailed walkthroughs with screenshots, refer to Slack’s official guides for standard exports and Enterprise Grid exports.

Requesting additional Slack data exports

In some cases, you may need to export data that isn’t included in your plan’s standard export options, such as private channel data on a Free plan. Slack does allow additional export requests, but you must demonstrate a valid legal or compliance need for the data. If you have a legitimate case, it’s worth submitting a request to Slack.

How to export Slack data Slack data without admin access

While the standard Slack export process requires workspace admin permissions, there may be situations where you need to export your own Slack data without admin access. Whether you’re leaving a company, wanting a personal backup of your conversations, or needing to provide records for legal reasons, exporting your individual Slack data is possible.

these methods provide options for exporting your personal Slack data without admin help, they are limited in scope compared to full workspace exports. If you need a more comprehensive export that includes channels or conversations with others, you’ll likely need to work with your Slack workspace admin or legal team to request an official export.

Manual copy-paste method

The simplest, albeit most time-consuming, method is to manually copy and paste the relevant conversations from Slack into a document.

  1. Navigate to the channel or DM conversation you want to export.
  2. Scroll up to load the full message history you need.
  3. Highlight the text of the conversation, including usernames and timestamps.
  4. Copy the selected text and paste it into a document (eg. Google Docs).
  5. Repeat for all relevant conversations.

While this method is free and doesn’t require any special tools, it can be very tedious for longer conversations. It’s best suited for exporting small amounts of targeted content.

Slack’s export your data tool

Slack offers a self-serve tool for users to request a copy of their own data. Here’s how to use it:

  1. Go to my.slack.com/account/settings.
  2. Scroll down to the bottom and click on Export your data.
  3. Select the workspaces you want to export data from.
  4. Confirm your email address.
  5. Click Submit Request.

Slack will then prepare a ZIP file of your data and email you a download link within 24 hours. The exported data will include your message history, files, and user profile information.

For more detailed information, refer to Slack’s official guide on exporting your own data.

It’s important to note that this method only exports your own data, not entire channels or conversations with others. It’s useful for personal record-keeping but not for more comprehensive exports.

Slack export formats

Slack exports data in JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) format by default. JSON is a structured, machine-readable format that can be a bit daunting for the average user to decipher. Here’s a simplified example of what a message object might look like in a JSON export:

  "type": "message",
  "user": "U1234567",
  "text": "Hey team, just wanted to share a quick update on the project...",
  "ts": "1665187200.000000",
  "reactions": [
      "name": "+1",
      "users": ["U2345678", "U3456789"],
      "count": 2

For single-user exports, Slack also offers a plain text (TXT) format option. While TXT files are more human-readable, they don’t include as much rich metadata as the JSON exports.

To make sense of your exported JSON data, you’ll likely need to use some type of data visualization or analysis tool. There are both web-based and standalone software options that can help you parse and extract insights from your Slack exports. Some are designed specifically for Slack data, while others are more general-purpose JSON viewers. The right tool for you will depend on your technical expertise and specific data analysis needs.

When it comes to storing your exported Slack data, it’s crucial to treat it with the same care and security protocols as any other sensitive business information. Use secure cloud storage or encrypted local drives, limit file access to only those who absolutely need it, and ensure you’re adhering to any relevant data retention and privacy regulations.

Slack export limitations and challenges

While Slack’s export tools are powerful, they do have some noteworthy limitations, especially for organizations using Slack to build communities.

One significant drawback is that you can only export data that hasn’t exceeded your workspace’s message and file retention settings. If your workspace is set to automatically delete messages after a certain period, that data will not be available when you go to export. This highlights the importance of proactively configuring your retention settings to align with your anticipated data export needs.

The lack of filtering and customization options for Slack exports can also pose challenges, particularly for larger workspaces. Slack does not currently allow you to export only specific channels or date ranges. This means exports can become quite large, containing a lot of unnecessary data alongside potentially valuable conversations. The manual effort required to sift through and clean up these exports can be significant.

Another often-overlooked export consideration is message edits and deletions. By default, Slack exports only capture the latest version of messages. So if a user has edited or deleted messages, those changes will not be reflected in your export unless you have specifically enabled a setting to retain that data.

For organizations using Slack’s free plan for communities, these export limitations can be particularly challenging. With message retention capped at just 90 days and no ability to access private channel or DM data, free plan workspaces may struggle to maintain a comprehensive, searchable record of community conversations.

To work around these challenges, some Slack community owners turn to third-party integrations like Hall. Hall’s Slack integration enables communities to build a knowledgebase of Slack discussions, capturing valuable support answers and customer conversations that would otherwise be lost due to retention limits. Hall also transforms Slack community conversations into a branded, searchable site, making it easier for customers and search engines to discover and leverage the collective knowledge of the community.


Exporting data from Slack is an essential process for many organizations, whether it’s for legal compliance, data analysis, or simply safeguarding important conversations. By understanding what data you can export, how to initiate exports, and common export challenges, you can develop a proactive strategy to ensure you always have access to the Slack conversations and files that matter most.

To recap, here are the key points to keep in mind:

  • Slack’s export capabilities vary based on your subscription plan. Know what’s included in your plan.
  • The export process differs slightly between standard and Enterprise Grid plans. Follow Slack’s step-by-step guides.
  • Exported data comes in JSON or TXT formats. You may need additional tools to analyze and extract insights from JSON exports.
  • Treat exported Slack data with care. Store it securely and adhere to relevant privacy regulations.
  • Be aware of potential export limitations around message retention, edit/deletion history, and file retention.

By taking the time to understand Slack’s export capabilities and processes, you’re empowering yourself to effectively manage and utilize your workspace’s data. While there may be some technical hurdles and platform limitations to navigate, the benefits of having a thorough, accessible archive of your Slack conversations are well worth the effort.

Whether it’s for legal compliance, data analysis, or simply preserving institutional knowledge, exporting your Slack data is a critical step in ensuring the long-term success and continuity of your team’s communication. So embrace the learning curve, stay proactive in your data management practices, and unlock the full potential of your Slack workspace.

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