Last month I was abroad, doing some consulting for various customers. During that time, my two lovely daughters used Skype to communicate with me while I was on the road, and since I could not always pick up the phone to answer them and because of the time difference, they ended up leaving many video messages for me. I enjoyed getting those messages very much, and I liked to replay them over and over in my spare time. But then I thought: “What if I need to format this computer in the future? What will happen to those priceless video messages?”
Keep Your Own Copies
It turns out that these video messages are (theoretically) stored on Skype’s servers for an indefinite period of time. (“Forever” comes to an end very often sooner than you may realize. I remember many “free for life” services I once used – which aren’t free anymore.) We, as end-users of a service that is currently free, have no control over Skype’s (actually Microsoft’s) storage policy. What works today may be broken tomorrow, what is free today may cost money tomorrow, and what seems like a lifetime endless storage space may be gone without a trace in an eye blink. What if these messages will be deleted sometime in the future?
So how do you actually download those priceless video messages? The logic behind downloading these important videos is that you take control and responsibility of keeping them on your end. Even if Skype (or Microsoft) decides to close this service in the future, or if something goes really bad and causes a catastrophic data loss (which will probably get you nothing more than an official apology, saying that they’re so sorry for this and that they will study the incident to make sure that it won’t happen again – but nothing else), you’ll still have your local copy of this data.
As it turns out, you can save those video files. Here are some methods to help you do that. Some are easier than others, so pick the one that’s right for you and your Skype version.
So let’s assume we have a video message that you can view in your chat history and that you want to save.
Save Skype Video Messages: Versions Prior to 6.5
In previous versions of Skype, when you get a video message you also receive a link to view the video message on your browser. You also get a code which you must enter when you replay the video message.
One of the easiest methods to save these video messages is by using the Chrome browser and an extension called FVD Video Downloader.
Once you open the video message in Chrome you can download the message, and then play the downloaded file with VLC media player. However, this method may not work anymore if you’re using a newer version of Skype.
Note: One workaround may be to remove the current version of Skype and install the old beta version for 6.5.
In addition, make sure you disable Skype’s automatic updates feature under Tools > Options >Advanced > Turn off automatic updates.
Save Skype Video Messages: Versions 6.5 and above
On the latest Skype versions (6.5 and above) you are no longer provided with links to video messages. Therefore, if you use a Skype version higher than 6.5 the previous method will no longer work for you. According to Skype’s community forum, “You should be able to watch these Video messages in your Skype for the next 10 years. The only what you need to ensure is that the chat database file (main.db) is still intact and that you don’t delete any chat messages.”
The main.db file is located in the following location:
C:\Users\<Windows user name>\AppData\Roaming\Skype\<Skype user name>\main.db
- In order to be able to read the main.db database file you need to get an SQLite database browser.
- On the SQLite browser, click on File, then click Open Database.
- Browse to the location of the main.db file (see path above).
- In the Browse Data tab, use the Table drop-down list and select VideoMessages.
- Scroll till you see the column called “vod path.” Each voice message has such a path. Double-click on the corresponding vod path text for the video message you want to view.
Note: Do not use the link from the “public link” column even if there is one.
- Copy the URL text.
- Open a browser window and paste in the URL. You should be able to play the video message.
- To save the video message, open Windows Media Player and click File, then click Open URL. Paste the URL in the text box and click OK.
- Once the video starts playing, click File, then Save As.
- Give the file a descriptive name, select a saving location, and click Save.
You can repeat this for all the video messages you want to keep.
Save Your Sent Skype Video Messages
This is another trick that works for video messages that YOU send with Skype.
There are two places where your message is saved. Prior to sending it, it will be saved in the Temp folder on your computer (located at C:\Users\<Windows user name>\AppData\Local\Temp) with a name that looks like this: vidmxxxxxxxxxx.mp4.
This file is deleted the moment you send it to the other person.
After you hit Send and the message is sent to your chat partner, the message is temporary saved in the “media” folder of your user profile at this location:
C:\Users\<Windows user name>\AppData\Roaming\Skype\<Skype user name>\media
File names will be different that the one you saw in the Temp folder.
- Copy this file to another location on your computer.
- Next, add an extension .avi or .mp4 to it. You can now play the file in Windows Media Player or VLC media player.
Note: However, there are two issues with this method. First, it only works for messages that YOU send, and not for the ones you receive. Second, these files get deleted the moment you quit Skype. So if you want to keep your own messages, you need to remember to copy them before you quit Skype.