Creating PDF copies of Text Messages

The history of text messages

The ability to send text messages was part of the design of mobile (cellular) phones from the beginning. The modern phone, or smartphone as it is sometimes called, is essentially a small computer capable of doing the kind of functions which computers are typically used for such as word processing, handling PDFs, and sending emails, with the phone function itself being just one of a number of apps on the smartphone. Although text messaging facilities have developed from the original SMS (short message system) so that it is now possible to text photos and other media (MMS) text messaging remains essentially part of the "phone" on a smartphone rather than part of the "computer". One consequence of this is that whilst it is easy to upload copies of ordinary "computer" files such as PDFs and Word files, there is no easy way of doing the same for text messages. If a photo is sent by MMS message you can save the photo itself as a JPG file and upload it in the usual way but there is no easy way to create a copy of an MMS or SMS message itself apart from doing a screenshot.

It is good practice to initially take a screenshot of all the messages you have exchanged with each correspondent by opening the message display, taking a screenshot pressing the scroll capture button to scroll through, and capture, the entire message display in a single JPG and saving that JPG elsewhere as a precaution in case your phone is lost or broken. If necessary you could create PDFs from that long JPG you have saved but assuming the phone is still working (and if there may be legal proceedings you should keep the phone at least until the end of legal proceedings - even if it gets broken) it is easier to go back to the phone and create PDFs from there as explained below. 

Creating PDF copies of messages

You will need to display the text messages on your phone and take a screenshot. How to take a screenshot on a phone depends on what phone model it is but on iPhones it is usually pressing the home button and power button at the same time. On Android phones it is often pressing the volume down button and power button at the same time. The screenshot takes a JPG image of what the phone's screen is displaying at the time.   

Usually when you display a text message on a phone it will display the message as part of a conversation - i.e. it will show you all messages to and from that phone to a particular phone number, in chronological order - and if there are more than three or four messages to/from that number, you have to scroll to see them all. Each screenshot will save as a JPG just the text messages you are displaying at the time you take the screenshot. You should try to take screenshots in such a way that only messages sent/received on the same day appear in each screenshot. For example, if two messages were sent from the phone on Tuesday and one on Wednesday and all three messages are currently displayed on the screen, use your finger and thumb to expand the display so that only the two messages sent/received on Tuesday still appear and take one screenshot, then scroll down and expand so that only the Wednesday message appears and take another screenshot. If there are so many messages sent/received on a particular day that they cannot all be displayed on your phone at the same time, it is fine to take a screenshot of the first few messages of the day, then scroll down and take another screenshot for the next few messages of the day etc. as long as each screenshot does not contain messages for more than one day.

Once you have the text messages in JPG form, you can create PDF copies of the JPG files using (select a one inch margin) and, if necessary, You should create one PDF per day per pair of people sending/receiving so, for example, if you have the following JPG files:

a.) texts between Smith and Jones from 09.22 to 13.51 on 3 November 2018

b.) texts between Smith and Jones from 13.53 to 17.22 on 3 November 2018

c.) texts between Smith and Baker from 10.51 to 15.01 on 3 November 2018

d.) texts between Smith and Jones from 08.51 to 12.30 on 4 November 2018

you should:

create a single PDF (containing 2 pages) from (a) and (b) together using Sejda Merge - give the PDF a name of 2018-11-03 Texts between Smith and Jones

create one PDF for (c) using Sejda jpg-to-pdf - give the PDF a name of 2018-11-03 Texts between Smith and Baker

create one PDF for (d) using Seja jpg-to-pdf - give the PDF a name of 2018-11-04 Texts between Smith and Jones 


The information on this page about specific computer techniques is provided for information purposes only. Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate and up to date at the time it was written but no responsibility for its accuracy, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by me. Any sample screen layouts are based on the version of software current when the screen shot was taken and may be different now. You should satisfy yourself, before using any of the techniques, software or services described, that the techniques are appropriate for your purposes and that the software or service is reliable.

This page was lasted updated in February 2019. Disclaimer