Accessing Direct Messages from Disabled Users in Slack

Slack is awesome. I love it. You love it. Everyone loves it. If you don’t love it than that is probably because you haven’t heard about it. So.. go hear about it. Yep – now you love it too. You’re welcome.

One of the cool things about Slack is that it archives all of your conversations. So you can refer to (and search through) previous conversations you’ve had. This morning I was going to do just that, look up an old conversation I had with a previous team member. However, I couldn’t find his name anywhere via the normal slack interface. Because I couldn’t find his name I figured that he must’ve been deleted and my conversations were lost forever… :sad_panda:

But – don’t despair! As it turns out, you can’t actually delete a user in Slack. You can, however, disable a user. And the cool thing about disabled users is that you can still access the messages you’ve sent to them.

Accessing the messages is simple. Find the People & user groups link in the Slack interface. If you cannot see it then you might have to click the ⋮ More link. On the People & user groups page find and open the Filter menu. Click on the checkbox to Show deactivated accounts. Find the user you want, click on their portrait, and finally, click the Message icon. This will bring up the Message Archives for that user.

Boom sauce. You can now view your archived direct messages from previous members of your team.

Another Option:
Access Archived Messages via Search

It is also possible to access messages from a disabled user using the Slack search functionality. In order to do this you can simply enter from:@userName (where username is the name of the user you are looking for) in the Slack search bar. The search results should actually show you messages from the disabled user.

Note: Keep in mind. If you are using Free Slack then you are limited to 10k messages. It’s possible that the messages you wish to find are beyond the 10k limit.

14 thoughts on “Accessing Direct Messages from Disabled Users in Slack”

  1. Huge help for directing me here. Seems there’s been a small update to Slack. The three dots on the right no longer have “View Archives” as an option. Instead click on their name and there should see the “View Archives” button under their profile picture.

    1. Not sure if it was updated yet again, but clicking on their name takes me to a profile page that just says they are deactivated.

      1. On that profile page you should see a “View Archives” button underneath their profile image. Click that to see the messages. It’s plausible that there is a Slack Admin setting to restrict this functionality but I don’t think so.

        Another option. In the Slack Search bar enter “from:@disabledUser” where “disabledUser” is replaced with the username you are looking for. The search results should show you messages from the disabled account.

        Note: If you are using Free Slack then you are limited to 10k messages. It’s possible that the archived messages you are looking for are outside of the 10k range.

  2. The UI has been changed yet again.

    Now you have to click the user’s Icon to get to the page where you can click the [View Archives] button.

  3. Thank you – and for the ‘view archives’ update – found a file that I thought was lost. Much appreciated.

  4. Hey Guys, thanks a lot!!!

    My problem, is that a worker of my company left, and disabled his User. I got the conversation back, but his messages don’t appears (that means he deleted his messages??), or there is a way to get the full conversation restored??

    Thank you!!

    1. Hi Guillermo,
      I’m actually not sure in your situation. I’m thinking of a couple possibilities:

      1. The user deleted the messages (as you said).
      2. The company may not be paying for the “full version” of Slack. So, though you can access the conversation, you cannot see the messages because they are outside the “free” timeframe.

      I’m thinking it’s likely the second possibility.

      In any case, let us know if you figure it out. I’ll update this post if I find out anything more about it.

      Have a superb day 🙂

      1. I can see my direct messages with the deactivated user (former colleague), but only if they were not in-thread replies. When there is a collapsed in-thread reply with a link showing “1 reply View thread”, it does not expand the text when I click on the “1 reply” (nothing happens). These are recent replies (2 months old). Any ideas on how to access the embedded replies from my former colleague?

  5. The admin of my Slack was sending me inappropriate messages and then deleted both his and my accounts, with the conversation when I said I was going to report him. I cannot find his username when I search it. Is there a way to retrieve these messages?

  6. Hi,

    I am searching for the conversation between me and deactivated user for at least a year ago, sadly I’ve learned that our company is just using free which has only 10k messages.

    My question is, is there any possible way to view all conversations that we had?
    If I will be paying the Standard Plan of slack, will i able to retrieve it?

    Please answer. I need it badly.
    Thank you in advance!

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