Telegram update introduces support for importing WhatsApp chats

Martin Brinkmann
Jan 29, 2021

The team behind the messenger Telegram released a new version of the client for Android and iOS yesterday that introduces support for importing chats from the messengers WhatsApp, Line and KakaoTalk.

More than 100 million new users joined Telegram in January 2021 according to the announcement. While Telegram did not reveal where these came from, it is likely that WhatsApp/Facebook privacy changes played a large role in it.

The new import option supports individual chats and group chats alike, and includes documents and videos. Images are not mentioned explicitly, which is odd as WhatsApp exports may include them.

A quick test confirmed that the feature is working, but that it is taking a long time to import content, while exporting the content to Google Drive was significantly faster.

telegram import whatsapp chats

The process itself is straightforward and as easy as it gets. Here is how it works on Android to exemplify it:

  1. Open a chat in WhatsApp, it does not matter if it is a group chat or an individual chat.
  2. Select Menu > More > Export chat.
  3. Select whether you want media included or not when the prompt appears.
  4. The Share menu opens. Pick Telegram from the list of available options.
  5. Select a group in Telegram to save the chat and supported attachments to.
  6. It may take some time to get the information imported.

Telegram notes that users can save space on the device after the importing finishes by freeing up space on it; this is done under Settings > Data and Storage > Storage Usage. It can be used to removed data from Telegram without losing access to it thanks to the service's servers on which the data is still stored.

Closing Words

WhatsApp users who want to leave the application can now export their chats to Telegram to take previous conversations, files and media with them when they move on; that is a helpful feature as it allows you to keep messages, files and media when switching to Telegram.

The Telegram update introduced a number of new features next to the importing functionality. You can read more about these on the official Telegram blog.

Now You: which messaging service, if any, do you use?

Telegram update introduces support for importing WhatsApp chats
Article Name
Telegram update introduces support for importing WhatsApp chats
The team behind the messenger Telegram released a new version of the client for Android and iOS yesterday that introduces support for importing chats from the messengers WhatsApp, Line and KakaoTalk.
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  1. Anonymous said on January 30, 2021 at 10:09 pm

    Telegram became adware recently, ghacks even wrote something about it, drop that malware.

  2. Mystique said on January 30, 2021 at 8:27 am

    I am personally hoping that session messenger improves and becomes an accessible messenger by all. Things need improve for sure but there is definitely a need for it in today’s market.
    The concerning part is it being based and development in Australia which is a bit of a worry considering their love affair with the US and UK. I have seen them many times sight and hand pick draconian laws from each of the above countries to implement in their own country not to mention being one of the five eyes.

    I see no talk about ShazzleChat which may in of itself mean something.

    1. Buck said on January 30, 2021 at 11:15 pm

      Well, you should look at the Loki foundation/Oxen Team/Session documentation and FAQ and they talk about it. Even few days ago on Twitter they said that even if they wanted, they couldn’t do anything even if Australia government asks them too add some backdoor. There is no server, so how can you get anything? you could say through the service nodes, but then the service nodes are managed by random people so Oxen Team wouldn’t be able to do anything about it.
      It is also open source and you message them and they will respond to any question.

      Do you really trust any government or app made under any other country? I wouldn’t. no matter where, so having a project that lets you be even annonymous and private and secured is better than using some Telegram or Signal that asks you for an account and are not decentralized.

      But you can see how distributed the service nodes are ( this is the difference between the normal centralized app and the other extreme of complete p2p decentralized app, service nodes are used to distribute and temporary store the messages so it gives every possible plus without requiring a server that can get hacked by normal people or government agencies.

      1. Mystique said on January 31, 2021 at 11:38 am

        Thank you for the clarity. I just know that the government would likely do anything to undermine peoples privacy be it Australia or otherwise. Is there a chance that they could persuade or force the developers to silently add some sort of code to the client app that is uploaded to the google play store with some sort of keylogger/screenlogger of sorts?
        I’m probably way off and I suspect not all developers are located in Australia also.
        Session is looking very promising and will mature in time and hopefully with its latest changes be able to bring more features sooner rather than later.

        Nope but most countries aren’t openly trying to undermine the people right to privacy through rapid and underhanded legislation.
        I agree that both Signal and Telegram suck for different reasons but if I were to choose one issue in which they both have in common it is the need to register an account with your phone number… not very anonymous if you ask me.

        That’s definitely good to hear and consider me a little more wiser having been told. Thanks Buck.

  3. Anonymous said on January 29, 2021 at 2:26 pm

    Telegram was “banned” in Russia. Have we heard anything since then? To me it’s reverse psychology. People are drawn to banned stuff…

    1. Cor said on January 29, 2021 at 7:48 pm

      Russia lifted this ban in June. Like the UK, Germany and Australia to name a few, they have a hate-boner for encryption in general. Not specifically Telegram.
      People question stuff. Which is a good thing.

      1. Anonymous said on January 30, 2021 at 10:19 pm

        Cor said “Like the UK, Germany and Australia to name a few, they have a hate-boner for encryption in general”

        It’s easy to love encryption when your government has laws that give it secretly full and exclusive access to companies like Cloudflare that decrypt internet traffic world-wide and so many other privileged accesses to software and infrastructure to get the same result through other means too.

        Sorry, I meant, God bless the American ruling class they love privacy and human beings unlike their foreign equivalents.

  4. Agent Smith said on January 29, 2021 at 2:19 pm

    You can have “Secret Chat” in Telegram where communications are encrypted from end to end.

  5. Buck said on January 29, 2021 at 2:13 pm

    This sounds good for people who want to switch from Whatsapp to Telegram for obvious reasons.

    But people should stop putting these companies on a pedestal and stop trusting them. Someone already even mentioned Signal, which was banned in Iran few days ago.

    First problem? they are centralized, so you have to trust the server, the company, really believe nobody has access to your information, etc etc. Especially with Telegram where you can even compose a message on a device and finish on another device etc.

    People shouldn’t trust Pavlov Durov only because of the supposedly drama with the Russian government. It could be a simple act to easily get people information, it’s not like he is not a Russian oligarch after all who got some training on propaganda at University.

    BUT maybe He is a good guy who is trying to make the world better, or let’s pretend he is. It doesn’t mean his service is perfect and will protect you or you are safe using it.

    1. The E2EE is not even on by default and it is not like used everywhere on the app.
    2. They can ban people, because they can ban groups even if they supposedly say all chats are private even if they are on public groups.
    3. It asks for phone numbers, it is centralized, etc.

    Of course today, if you want to make video and audio calls without using facebook or google or Mcrosoft services, your best choice could probably be Telegram. But I wouldn’t trust the app. Same with Signal, you can make calls, but it is even worst since you even have to have a phone AND the phone number to use the Desktop app.

    Of course there are apps that are decentralized and I hope they improve and eventually replace these centralized services that have control of your data. Just asking for a phone number is too much since most places will want to have your ID to get sim card in order for you to “switch companies and keep your number” and reasons like that, which technically are good, but then you are traceable and easy to find and you are not anonymous anymore.
    Everytime I watch Project Veritas videos and then O’Keefe is like giving a phone number so you can send him any info with the Signal app, I just wonder how people can use these services where you have to actually give a phone number in order to connect, and Telegram is not better at that, it even wants more info than just a phone number.

    There are apps like Session, onion routing app made by Oxen team (previously called Loki), they also have Lokinet (probably will be rebranded soon) which is better than Tor. But it is anonymous, private and secure messenger, decentralized and everything gets stored on each person’s device, which means, only people who has access to your phone can have access to the info, your information doesn’t exist outside it. Session still doesn’t support video or audio calls, but they say they are working on it thanks to the lokinet future integration, it won’t be perfect because of the nature of onion routing but it will be private and all that. And session has improved quite a lot in the last months, Private Groups were 10 people max, then 20 and now 100, multi device support will be available soon so you can get your conversation on two devices.

    For more stable decentralize apps to do videocalls I would recommend P2P apps like Jami or Tox also are nice, of course Tox’s problem is that its mobile apps are not in a good state, so Jami is more recommended. But it is P2P so your IP will be easily known by the other person, so I would only use it with known people, not with strangers unless you use a VPN. But Jami is working on swarm chat which will allow multi device support to get a message on both devices and groups.

    There is an app called Berty that is being developed that seems interesting too, like a P2P but it will be able to use bluetooth and all to connect with others so even if internet gets censored or is not available you can chat with others.

    But decentralized communication apps is the future with all these dumb censorship and people wanting it because they were brainwashed to believe it is the right thing to do because ‘words hurt’ or whatever. So we need to find and support services that will not have any control over our data in their servers. Telegram server side is closed source, other claim their server code is open source like Signal but…. can you trust that the code they have on their server is the one they claim they have? Plus with the history of Signal and how it was born you can be suspicious who is really behind it, same with Telegram, just like you are with Facebook and Google and Microsoft.

    It is still good, and I hope Telegram is not like some double agent company. But I would still not trust it because it is too much marketing and looking at all the encryption and how secure it is and all that, it is not the best, not even that better than Whatsapp on many things. So I would only recommend it for the calls you can make today, but I hope for decentralized services to improve and replace telegram, signal, whatsapp, etc etc.

    1. Niko said on January 31, 2021 at 11:40 am

      “Session” bookmarked and I am watching further development … Thanks Buck I appreciate these tips!

    2. Mark said on January 30, 2021 at 12:25 pm

      Thank you for some really useful information and advice. “Session” in particular has really impressed me. It’s great to have a secure messaging app that works the same on desktop and mobile, and doesn’t require registration or phone details. I’m looking forward to multi-device support and other future developments.

      1. Buck said on January 30, 2021 at 11:02 pm


        Yeah, Session is amazing and the team behind it are cool people who will really communicate and talk to you and help you if you need to. It is good they are going away from being a “signal fork” to have their own signal protocol and all. in a matter of a month it jumped from 20 to 100 the closed groups and next update they probably will bring the multi-device support back, and they are working to integrate the lokinet so it will be even better since it will allow calls, not as stable for the whole going through service nodes but it should be fine to communicate privately and anonymously for sure.
        But yeah, having apps that are not only for android or ios or they force to you make accounts with phone numbers and emails is the best part.
        There is another app similar called Status but I don’t trust much their history and how they stopped developing desktop app for a year until October last year.
        Jami is getting swarm chat which will make possible to have groups and proper multi device support.
        And there are many apps that will not force you to create accounts that can be traced back at you, but I really like Session and their projects like Lokinet and how better it is compared to Tor.

    3. Niko said on January 30, 2021 at 10:54 am

      “…But it is P2P so your IP will be easily known by the other person, so I would only use it with known people, not with strangers unless you use a VPN…”

      It’s not good when it’s centralized, it’s not good when it’s decentralized, I’m completely confused like a bunch of people. Good look at the topic by the way …

      1. Buck said on January 30, 2021 at 10:50 pm


        Well, the problem of centralized is they have control over your data, even if they say it is encrypted, how can you trust them? It can be banned like happened with Telegram and Signal. Signal was not working when they were upgrading servers because more users so that means people couldn’t communicate. You are leaving too many information behind, especially when these companies even want you to have a phone and a phone number to make an account so more information you are giving away that can be traced back at you.

        Decentralized is good, you connect directly to the person you talk to, but, can you trust strangers you really don’t know anything about? Jami is stores on the devices, so only people who have access to your device will have access to your information so that’s not the problem, the problem is people can do many bad things if they know your IP, not like everyone is going to do something but few people can do it if they want to. so using a VPN would be recommended if you are talking really sensitive data and you really don’t know who the other person is.

        Of course centralized services allow so much, synchronization like telegram promises and all that and stability and being able to deliver better the messages and use less power. but decentralize will always be better since it will isolate you completely from the internet and sometimes bypass it like Berty will use bluetooth and wifi even if internet is down, Jami allows wifi or lan to find each other.

        But like always, you don’t know if some hacker or FBI is on the other side of the P2P client so what they can do with your IP might be a lot or nothing. so that’s why I would say a vpn or lokinet would be recommended if you really must.

    4. Buck said on January 29, 2021 at 3:18 pm

      I just wanted to say I meant to type Pavel Durov, but I don’t know what happened. I guess it was just too early to type it.

  6. BetterOptions said on January 29, 2021 at 1:52 pm

    Nice up-to-date comparisson of features:

    Telegram is not as secure as Signal and much less private/anonymous than Threema.

    1. Denn said on January 31, 2021 at 9:54 pm

      To enlighten the brain.
      How the CIA created the Signal Messenger app.

  7. Pedro said on January 29, 2021 at 12:37 pm

    Signal needs this ASAP. At least they finally added wallpaper backgrounds.

    1. ShintoPlasm said on January 29, 2021 at 2:04 pm

      The idiots at Signal decided to remove the SMS import option precisely at the point when many users started migrating to it.

  8. pwned said on January 29, 2021 at 11:40 am

    OK these comments cant contain text between __

  9. pwned said on January 29, 2021 at 11:37 am

    Of course, this is to ensure the recently whatsapp orphans stay happy as clams and loyal Telegram users.

    Everyone is so concerned with security and privacy that they get distracted from whats going on in the world and how peoples privacy and rights are being dilapidated faster by and and lil ol users will wake up one day and realise they are all screwed.

    1. pwned said on January 29, 2021 at 11:39 am

      ugh these comments hide “

      this was meant to be

      `are being dilapidated faster by and `

  10. Yuliya said on January 29, 2021 at 10:33 am

    Telegram FTW!

  11. Anonymous said on January 29, 2021 at 8:47 am

    That makes perfect sense as there is a huge exodus away from WhatsApp. And WhatsApp went in
    to damage control to try to limit their losses.

  12. ilev said on January 29, 2021 at 7:54 am

    Telegram is no better than Parler and should be banned.

    1. The Beast said on February 1, 2021 at 5:16 am


      All private conversations should be banned, and no one should be able to be anonymous anywhere. Everyone should be tagged and monitored 24/7. The public safety demands laws that stop people from running around free.
      Everyone should have the freedom to anonymously conspire evil plans and grow their crazy, hateful communities, resulting in death and chaos.
      We stop having so many kids, as overpopulation doesn’t help at all.
      We keep overbreeding and move to Mars, so we can eventually have a great interplanetary war to end it all.

      Take your pick, while you are still free to do so.

    2. Peterson said on January 29, 2021 at 2:57 pm

      And who the F are you that dictates what people should use it or not? huh?

    3. Buck said on January 29, 2021 at 1:40 pm

      lol imagine calling for censorship, what about people like you who like so much censorship doesn’t get censorship in the first place? or what about people like you just don’t get technology if you hate so much people’s opinions? words don’t hurt, people should stop being weak and pretending any type of speech hurt anything.

      Some people love saying “well private companies should be able to do whatever they want like banning blabla” but it only applies to whatever fits your/their agenda, it’s just a bunch of double standard and hypocrisy.

      You are weak human “oh words hurt wah wah everyone who hurt my safe space should be banned” and the weakest a human is the more censorship they will look for because everything will ‘hurt’ them.

      I know people have given so much power to technology and they just don’t turn it off enough and give it too much importance, but people like you are the reason people don’t like people like you: Weak double standard hypocrites who love talking behind a keyboard with your virtue signal label on your forehead so people see how “good you are”, probably obeying what brainwash school system machine and mainstream media and post modernism and 2000s society has dictated you should speak, behave and think.

    4. Chekov said on January 29, 2021 at 11:50 am


      Telegram is a non-partisan app, anyone can use it, left-wing and right-wing, black / white / asian, all genders, all ages etc. Neither the company nor the app itself are right-wing, explicitly or implicitly.

      If you implicitly call it “right-wing”, the burden of proof is on you. You would have to provide evidence that either the company itself is right-wing or that the vast majority of Telegram users are right-wing. If you can’t prove any of the two, please stop making assumptions.

      I can’t help but notice a sad shift of standards: 20 years ago, you were considered a “good” company when you didn’t exclude anyone, today, you are considered a “good” company when you explicitly exclude certain types of users. How times have changed, not for the better imo.
      ilev, there are still companies out there which are just companies in the true sense of the word, merely wanting to do business, no matter with whom (perhaps excluding violent terrorism, granted). Not every company is infested with politics and wants to control what their users or clients are allowed to think and express.

      1. Anonymous said on January 31, 2021 at 11:12 am

        “there are still companies out there which are just companies in the true sense of the word, merely wanting to do business, no matter with whom (perhaps excluding violent terrorism, granted)”

        “Terrorism” is manipulative vocabulary to designate whatever a propaganda source doesn’t like at a given place and time, never to characterize actions objectively. US imperialist wars, assassinations or torture camps are prominent state terrorism that of course does not self-describes as such. Often, the same groups at different times or at the same time but on different theaters are called terrorists or not by the same propaganda sources depending on how useful they are for them at this time and location. Bin Laden was not described as a terrorist when USA used him and his islamists to overthrow the socialist republic of Afghanistan. The islamist terrorists in Syria are sometimes labeled as freedom fighters. So are the armed fascist groups that still today make coups in latin America against progressists for US imperialism, with bipartisan support. At the same time “anti-terrorist” laws are used to spy on and censor legitimate (violent or not) opposition and demonstrators, and “terrorism” is the excuse for imperialist wars that are in fact motivated by profit, are themselves a much worse form of “terrorism”, and generate much more “terrorism” in reply than they stop, when they don’t plainly hire the same groups that they called before “terrorists” to help them with the job or create the crisis to “solve” in the first place.

        If you want to serve truth and do good journalism, it’s better to avoid the “terrorist” word completely and find a more objective and descriptive one. That last advice was from Le Monde years ago before they jumped in the “war on terror” bandwagon.

    5. Jeff M.S. said on January 29, 2021 at 11:41 am

      Care to elaborate?

    6. John said on January 29, 2021 at 10:20 am

      Are you from North Korea? If not, why would you like to censor?

    7. Anon said on January 29, 2021 at 9:53 am

      What a truly disgusting comment. You are of course, entitled to your opinion. In an age, where thanks to Covid, we are literally facing the censorship (slowly but surely) of almost everything that does not follow government narratives, people like you step in and try and tighten the screws even further. I can totally guess what your politics and views on Covid are, and you can probably guess mine.

    8. some1 said on January 29, 2021 at 9:24 am

      I agree the best alternative is Signal, Telegram is not that much better than WhatsApp, but what does it have anything to do with Parler?!

      1. ilev said on January 31, 2021 at 8:52 am

        Hate speech forums, Nazi forums, drug dealers forums, guns selling forums, anti-semitic forums…

      2. Rony Boy said on April 18, 2021 at 7:07 pm

        Earlier this would not possible but right now we can see the feature working properly the change has been great.

    9. Onte said on January 29, 2021 at 9:00 am

      telegram is one of the best. And those…. like u.. should be banned

    10. Anonymous said on January 29, 2021 at 8:52 am

      Telegram and Parler are alt tech sites. If you don’t have alt tech what are we left with ?
      Communist censoring platforms like Twitter,who by the way are hiding behind Cloudflares service.
      Why are they hiding ?

      1. Anonymous said on January 30, 2021 at 10:06 pm

        Anonymous wrote “Communist censoring platforms like Twitter”

        because he is another Trumpist commie who doesn’t respect the sacrifice of our armies killing dozens of millions of commies in WW2 and cold war fascist purges so that today capitalists like Twitter can proudly use their Freedom to censor whatever their want on their private property.

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