I list a lot of apps at OnGenealogy. Especially apps intended to help you connect with family. But in case your family is like mine and isn’t interested in more “family time” or “connections” I’ll show you my go-to solutions for preserving the memories we make in this modern world.


I’ve got three brothers, a husband, two boys, and two male dogs. The only ones looking to spend more quality time with me are the dogs. 😂 The most I can hope for is to preserve the communication we have, in whatever form it’s delivered.


We use Apple devices and we use Mac and PC computers. If you use Android devices, these ideas still apply, your transfer process is just simpler.  Also see Android File Transfer–Everything You Need To Know.

My primary methods of communication are:

  • Phone Calls

  • Text Messages

  • Marco Polo messages

  • Social Media


Phone Calls

Phone calls are like any other unrecorded conversation. Practically speaking, they’re gone, stored only in the ripples of our brains. Fortunately, the men in my life don’t like to talk much so we text!


Text Messages

Text messages, on the other hand, are recorded and can be saved & archived. For texts with my children, I used to take screenshots/photos of the messages so I could make that pie-in-the-sky Memory book, but it was labor-intensive and time-consuming. Now I use iExplorer to download my text messages and for $40/year, iExplorer backups my phone and I can download a .pdf file of my text messages, including photos, onto my computer. Again, if you use Android devices, your transfer process should be much simpler.  Also see Android File Transfer–Everything You Need To Know.

iExplorer or similar Android methods also backup your photos and photo attachments, etc. I can download all my Notes, Phone Call histories, and more.

My teenage boys will text me with updates from school or activities and occasionally they share something meaningful to them and I want to record these memories.

Here’s an example iExplorer .txt and .pdf file of a conversation I had with my 7th grader. He just started playing trumpet this school year and texted me right after his band class. First the text file download, then the PDF download.

[10/3/18, 10:53 AM] 13-year-old: Best day ever
[10/3/18, 10:54 AM] Alyson Mansfield : ???
[10/3/18, 10:54 AM] 13-year-old: Chnce I’ll do a solo in Louie Louie!
[10/3/18, 10:54 AM] 13-year-old: Chance
[10/3/18, 10:54 AM] 13-year-old: Not chnce
[10/3/18, 10:54 AM] Alyson Mansfield: 😲💕🎉
[10/3/18, 10:54 AM] 13-year-old: Times a thousand
[10/3/18, 10:55 AM] 13-year-old: Congratulations
[10/3/18, 10:56 AM] Alyson Mansfield : That’s awesome
[10/3/18, 10:55 AM] 13-year-old: You have no idea
[10/3/18, 10:57 AM] Alyson Mansfield : Like Mr Faires said, You are a trumpeter. You are a musician.
[10/3/18, 10:58 AM] 13-year-old: This will sound unimpressive
[10/3/18, 10:58 AM] 13-year-old: But it’s called a one note solo
[10/3/18, 10:58 AM] 13-year-old: I can play c and high c with any rhythm variation I can think of

I think that’s the cutest thing ever. He’s so proud he might get to play a solo with the Beginning Band. Then he explains that “solo” means he’ll be permitted to play one note, over and over again, in any rhythm he wants, as the band plays on. Someday he’ll enjoy looking back on this memory.

I still might save these PDFs and print them in a yearly Memory Book or a “Memories of Junior High School” book, etc, but for now, I’m just archiving the text messages and that’s good enough.


Marco Polo messages

My next communication method with family and friends is the Marco Polo app. It’s available on Android or iOS devices. If you add it to your phone you may be surprised to find how many friends and family are already using the app. You just select a family member or person who’s on the app or invite someone to join, hit “Start” and send them a video message, a “Marco.” Then they can send you a reply or “Polo.” Right now, Marco Polo only gives you the right to download your own video messages–the videos you’ve sent to others. But I’ll ask my kids to download their messages and then I’ll archive these in my Photos & Videos on the computer. It may sound silly, but even the most mundane conversations can bring back happy memories. I really like video messages because you’re better able to judge how someone is feeling when you can read their body language and facial expressions–things that don’t always come through in text messages.

For example, during RootsTech, my husband stayed in SLC the entire week, my oldest son was in California on a band tour, we boarded our dogs, and after driving a teenager to school, I’d drive to SLC, an hour away, and attend RootsTech. My teenager would walk home each day and then hold down the fort till I got home each evening. We’d Marco Polo each other after school to touch bases and make sure everything was okay. Here’s what it looks like:

Marco Polo Messages


Social Media Memories

This is not something I’ve done, but many of my friends print their Social Media Memories directly from Facebook and Instagram into bound Memory books, such as Chatbooks. In fact, if you are annoyed by all the family pics and posts by your younger friends, you should know that they may be creating these posts as a journaling method and they do it with the intent of printing their memories for their family; they’re not trying to “keep up with the Joneses” or make you think their life is perfect. A lot of my friends fill my Facebook newsfeed with every detail of their children’s lives and then they tell Chatbooks to print a yearly memory book for each child. It’s lazy journaling, but I’m even lazier. I print my text messages and Marco Polos! So, just tossing it out there in case you weren’t already aware this is a “thing.” Google “Social Media memory books” or “best Facebook photo book” to read about other ways to download your social media posts and archive them for posterity.


Create Memories, Then Archive Them

So, if you’re like me, and aren’t looking to join a new social media app or group, but you do want to preserve family connections, consider these alternative ways of using tools such as iExplorer, Marco Polo, & Social Media books to archive your communications with family and friends. And then, like everything else we archive, use your 3-2-1 backup plan.

Here’s a pinnable image to save for later!

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