Using the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine to find copies of deleted pages

Ever clicked on a link and found that the page doesn’t exist? This post is for you.

1. Manage your expectations
2. Check search engine caches for recent deleted pages
3. Try the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine for much older pages
4. Other relevant posts on this blog
5. Troubleshooting and alternative options

1. Manage your expectations

Although there are several tools to uncover deleted pages there’s no guarantee that you’ll find the page you’re looking for. Not all websites are captured or sometimes the particular page you want hasn’t been saved. Best to always approach these searches as a pleasant surprise if you find anything.

2. Check search engine caches for recently deleted pages

Search engines index websites by crawling through all their links, they sometimes keep a cached copy of the page. When you type in a search term and press enter you’re shown a list of possible hits and if you click on the main link you’ll go straight to the page. On Google and Bing (and I’m sure many other search engines) this tiny little arrow will show you a copy that the search engine has saved in its cache. No arrow = no available cache.

Click arrow to access Google cache

Cached pages are continually overwritten and updated so the cache of a page deleted today may disappear in a few days so this option only works for recently deleted pages (sometimes it works for tweets too, try searching for the person’s profile and see if anything shows up.

If you find what you’re looking for you might like to save a copy of the webpage as a file (eg in Firefox this is File / Save Page As…) or save it as a screenshot.

3. Try the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine for much older pages

If you don’t find a copy using a search engine then try the Wayback Machine. This tool captures all sorts of websites automatically but people can also ask it to save a copy of a website (from now onwards) if it’s not currently there.

Go to

Internet Archive Wayback Machine.png

and type in the address of the website (homepage) or particular link (blog post etc) that you’re interested in, then press enter on your keyboard or click anywhere outside the text box.

Wayback Machine with address typed in.png

Either you’ll see a page telling you nothing’s been saved (see 5. Troubleshooting and alternative options) or you’ll see something like this.

Wayback results page example.png

This tells me that pages from this very blog have been saved 23 times in three and a half years and I can use the year tabs at the top to scroll back. Each black bar represents a month, its length indicates the number of copies made. Here’s 2016 – two copies saved – one on October 17th (highlighted) and another on 14 November.

2016 saves for this blog on Wayback Machine from Internet Archive

To access the saved copy hover over the the blue dot on the date it was collected and a moment later the little pop up will show with a link to one or more snapshots taken. The timestamp is the link to a copy of the site / page taken at that time on that date. Click to visit, the example for this website is below – you can see that the numbers in the link relate to the year, month, day and time

There’s a video showing the full process below (includes a slight delay as the archived page takes longer to open).

4. Other relevant posts on this blog

5. Troubleshooting and alternative options

Sometimes a page you’re after hasn’t been captured and that’s the end of the search. You might be given the option to look at all pages within a site so that’s worth a look. I’ve also  been presented with a page that looks like this – it’s displayed while you’re redirected to something. Before closing the tab you might as well wait and see where you end up.

Wayback Machine redirect notice.png

Page I was trying to reach:

Page I ended up being taken to: – you can see where you’re going to be redirected to on the page (though you won’t know what it looks like until you’ve been redirected there).

There are other services like the Wayback Machine, here’s a selection.

It’s also helpful to search Twitter and search engines for references to the page you’re after. Even if your page has gone people might have taken screenshots and shared them via Twitter or in blog posts / newspaper articles.



• Downloading your old Twitter faves, setting up IFTTT to capture new ones

Table of Contents

  1. Capturing old favourites
  2. Capturing new favourites ‘going forwards’
  3. Useful background info

1. Capturing old favourites
To download your already-liked favourites do the following

  1. Log into Twitter
  2. Go to and authorise it to access your account
  3. Select a time range, choose Favorites and create your PDF e-book of your favourited tweets

If you have as many favourites as I have (3,502 over 7 years, oops) you probably won’t be able to get them all in one go (2012 alone yielded a 134 page PDF!) but you have the option of trying to grab them all at once.


Fig 1. Authorise with Twitter


Fig 2. Pick a date range… or leave blank to pick all (it may fail if you have lots)


Fig 3. Once your tweetbook is ready the green ‘Download’ button will appear

The output
Each page of the PDF has only a handful of tweets on it (it’s not very efficient) but the timestamp is hyperlinked so you can search for a tweet (Ctrl+F or Command+F to search within any document) and then find the original on Twitter.

Caution: I don’t know if it will display only public tweets that you’ve followed or, because you’ve logged in, if it can pick up any tweets from locked (private) accounts that you follow. Be aware that if you publishly share the contents you might be sharing tweets that people want kept private.

2. Capturing new favourites ‘going forwards’
You can use an IFTTT recipe so that every time you click favourite / like on a tweet it will be saved in some way of your choosing – for example you might use a Google spreadsheet to capture the tweet, or email it to yourself.

To do this… do this

  1. Log in to Twitter and Google Drive / Gmail*
  2. Visit IFTTT and create an account.
  3. This is an example of a recipe you can use:
    Twitter Likes (Favorites) to Google Spreadsheet (other recipe options available*)
  4. You’ll be taken through the steps of connecting your Google Drive as one ‘channel’ and your Twitter  account as another channel – this allows your Twitter account to save your favourites to a Google Drive spreadsheet directly (you don’t need to set that up, it happens automatically).
  5. Favourite a tweet then go and visit your Google Drive and you’ll find a new spreadsheet created with your favourite in. After 1,000 tweets the system will create a fresh spreadsheet (same name with ‘1’ appended, and so on).

*or Evernote, or some other capturing system, examples here and here


3. Useful background info
Favouriting a tweet does not trap it permanently – if the original is deleted then you do not have a copy of it so ‘post-favouriting-processing’ would be necessary to capture it.

Other ways to capture a tweet include

  • taking a screenshot (it can be helpful to include its address / URL)
  • embedding it in a blog or Storify (in both cases subsequent deletion of the original won’t matter as your copy will remain)
  • use Freezepage to capture a copy of the ‘page’ on which the tweet appears (you need to use the tweet’s own address – you can find this in its timestamp – and remove the S from the httpS bit of the address

I’ve written a short post on ‘forensic’ use of Twitter (where you’re collecting someone’s tweets for legal reasons) but note that I’m not a lawyer so bear that in mind.

Further reading
Capturing web pages (remember a tweet IS a web page as it has its own address!) – Nightingale Collaboration


Taking a screenshot

This was originally posted on my main blog ‘How to take screenshots‘ which I’ve copied here and edited slightly.

  1. How take a screenshot on a Windows desktop PC or laptop
  2. …on a Mac laptop
  3. …on an iPhone
  4. …on an Android phone (v4.0 and above)
  5. …on a Samsung S3 Mini
  6. …on a Windows 8.1 phone
  7. …on a Sony phone
  8. Including the visible URL on a desktop

1. How take a screenshot on a Windows desktop PC or laptop
• Look for ‘Print Screen’ on the keyboard which is likely to be spelled Prt Scr.
• Press it to take a picture of the entire screen or press the Alt key first and then Prt Scr to take a snapshot of just the active window.
• This silently copies an image of the screen, or part of it, to the clipboard (it doesn’t send it to the printer)

I always use the free Paint / Paintbrush picture editing tool that’s bundled with Windows and the ‘how to use’ that is probably the subject of a different post but – briefly – Ctrl+V will transfer the copied image from the desktop and paste it into the Paint editing window, then click on any of the tool options then click on the selection tool.

To select the bit you want to keep start at one bit (eg top left) and click and drag to cover the area of interest. Press Ctrl+C to copy that (it’s now in the clipboard) and you can put that in a Word document or email, or save it as an image by opening a new Paint document (Ctrl+N) and then Ctrl+V to paste your clipping in and then save it.

2. How to take a screenshot on a Mac laptop

Note that ‘Command’ = the ⌘ key
Command+Shift+3     Capture the entire screen to a file
Command+Shift+Control+3     Capture the screen to the Clipboard
Command+Shift+4     Capture a selection to a file
Command+Shift+Control+4     Capture a selection to the Clipboard

You can use the Preview tool (free with Macs) to do some basic editing of the image.

3. How to take a screenshot on an iPhone
Press the on/off button (at the top right) and the ‘home screen’ button at the bottom. This will copy whatever’s on your screen to your camera roll which you can then email to yourself (private) or upload to image sharing services (public).

4. How to take a screenshot on an Android phone (v4.0 and above)
Press and hold the power and ‘volume down’ buttons simultaneously – h/t @ErisianLib
More at

5. How to take a screenshot on a Samsung S3 Mini
Press and hold the ‘home’ and ‘on/off’ (power) button simultaneously – thanks to @Jackpot73 for the info. 

6. How to take a screenshot on a Windows 8.1 phone
Press ‘power button’ and ‘volume increase/up’ at the same time – info from @Flatsquid, thank you

7. How to take a screenshot on a Sony phone
It’s power and volume down simultaneously, according to @clangyandjammy – thanks

8. Including the visible URL on a desktop
On desktop computers you may want to INCLUDE a page’s (eg a tweet’s) URL which you can see in the address bar, but you might NOT want to display your bookmarks too. If so you can use the VIEW option in the browser to temporarily hide the bookmarks toolbar (and any other toolbars) to neaten the captured image. You can also resize the entire window and use the Ctrl+- (the Ctrl or Command* key plus the hyphen key) to reduce the size of the text on the screen. Ctrl++ (Ctrl / Command and the + key) to embiggen it again 🙂

*Command = for Mac keyboards

• “Forensic” Twitter – getting evidence for use in court etc

           For anyone who wants to capture Twitter-related evidence [17 Aug 2019]

I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice (I am not qualified to give it). Be very careful about relying on this information – if I am wrong my advice might damage your case! – and always seek appropriate legal advice if you need it. Different localities will have their own laws and application of those laws. [Page updated 17 Aug 2019 29 Aug 2018]

See further reading at end.

This post is written for people who need to keep an eye on a particular set of tweets, or information on a website. An example might be where someone says something (on Twitter) that crosses a line and may need to result in intervention from Police, statutory bodies or some other legal body, or perhaps it may even end up in court. I have no idea what type of evidence would be required to satisfy a court but here are some suggestions for capturing tweets as evidence, and their limitations.

If you’ve been blocked you can still view and save tweets by logging out, using a third party app (like Echofon for iPhone or for desktop) or creating a spare account. You can’t reply to a blocker’s tweets but you can reply to other people’s replies to them, if you want your tweet in the thread.

Table of Contents
1. Capturing the tweets while they’re still available
• 1a. Screen capture / screenshot
• 1b. Freezepage
• 1c. Storify or embedding in a blog
• 1d. Capturing the tweets as they’re sent – email notifications or IFTTT
2. Capturing deleted tweets
3. What did they use to send the tweet?
4. Detect changes on another website, or new information being published
5. How many followers did X have at point Y?
6. Fake tweets – screenshots, deletions
7. Further reading

1. Capturing the tweets while they’re still available

In Monroe v Hopkins (see PDF in further reading) section 84 the Judge notes that any litigant (either party in a trial) needs to take responsibility for capturing any tweet-related evidence (“and the responsibility of a solicitor to take reasonable steps to ensure that the client appreciates this responsibility and performs it”). This may include capturing the tweet itself, responses to it, information about how many people have liked or RTed it. You could even plug the tweet’s URL into Facebook to see if anyone’s shared it there too (only the public posts will show up).

1a. Screen capture / screenshot
Have the tweet visible on the screen and take a screenshot. Methods for doing this depend on the device but see [Taking a screenshot] for some suggestions.

For a better picture use desktop Twitter (and include the https:// link that’s visible in the address bar). Most Twitter platforms, including desktop, will also show you who has favourited or RTed the tweet (which may be useful evidence in itself of the spread of the tweet) but you may need to note the accounts that have done this as it’s not necessarily obvious from the pictures (and they may subsequently change their picture). If you hover the mouse over their picture a pop-up of their profile will appear. You can also capture some of the replies to the tweet too.

Note that more people might reply to the tweet later (or favourite it, or RT it) so this process may need to be repeated periodically.

Advantages: captures the tweet as it is, even if later deleted
Limitations: because an image can be altered it may not be deemed strong enough evidence. However I think it would be a ‘not unreasonable supposition’ to believe that someone stating under oath that it is true might satisfy the courts, though see tweet below. You might be lucky and find that others have created a corroborating screenshot or other way of verifying the tweet too. See also Section 6 on faked screenshots.

1b. Freezepage
To capture a copy of the ‘page’ on which the tweet appears (you need to use the tweet’s own address – you can find its URL in the tweet’s timestamp. Make sure you remove the S from the httpS bit of the address [update 22 March – removing the S from https:// to make it http:// may no longer be necessary, but if it gives an error message try that first]. You can create an account, or not

1c. Storify or embedding in a blog
Storify no longer available, alternatives here “Alternatives to Storify”

A tweet, once embedded in a Storify story or blog, will remain visible there even once deleted. It will look slightly different (you won’t be able to favourite it or RT it) but it will remain there otherwise exactly as it was.

Storify embeds: Search for the name of the person, or words in the tweet, or if you have its address use the link search to pin it down and save it in your Storify. See [How to use Storify like a pro to collect tweets] for more info.

Blog embeds: Either use the embed tweet option (previously found in the three … dots but this has been replaced with a down arrow to the right of the tweet) or, for WordPress dot com blogs (as this one) you can just use the tweet’s address and it will autoembed.

1d. Capturing the tweets as they’re sent
Email notifications – Generally this is ON by default and you might have already switched it off (it can be a bit annoying). Twitter can send you an email notification when someone sends you a tweet (or when someone likes or retweets your tweet).

Check your email notification settings here

This is an imperfect solution. Note that Twitter won’t email you every notification and it will largely ignore new accounts or those that haven’t confirmed an email address (and  it may be these types of accounts that you need to collect tweets from). Twitter has also changed its notifications – it used to be the case that you’d get a full copy of the text of the tweet and that may no longer be the case. [More on Twitter’s email preferences]

In fact it is likely that Twitter will hide some tweets sent in your mentions (notifications tab) from new or unconfirmed accounts, or even tweets that show up in response to those. It may be worth searching for the tweets (using to:yourusername to search). You can search while logged out but you may get a more complete picture logging in with a spare account.

IFTTT – The free online tool IFTTT (If This, Then That) lets you capture a copy of a ‘corpus’ (“bunch”) of tweets eg all from a particular user or all containing a hashtag. You can have them emailed to you or you can have them collected in a Google Drive spreadsheet or Evernote file. You can even have the tweets rebroadcast to a spare account (though I recommend making it a private one otherwise it’s a bit annoying and spammy).

I’ve not written a blog post specifically about setting up IFTTT but the information can be gleaned from the second part of [Downloading your old Twitter faves, setting up IFTTT to capture new ones] and another post that might be useful on how to use IFTTT is [How to display Instagram pictures correctly in tweets using IFTTT].

With IFTTT you authorise it to access your own Twitter account (to let it interact with Twitter) then authorise another service (whatever you want to use to collect the tweets) eg Google Drive or something else. IFTTT calls the different services channels and the instructions to “if a tweet contains X send an email to Y” a recipe.

2. Capturing deleted tweets
While deleting a tweet removes it from Twitter’s public servers it is still potentially findable by users (in some cases you may need to get a court order to recover it from Twitter’s backup servers, assuming that is possible).

If you are looking for a tweet only a short while after its deletion (I’m not sure exactly how long but it’s a matter of hours and no guarantees) you may find it via Google’s cache (see tiny green arrow in picture below, flanked by orange arrows, that is the link to find a cached copy, if available – manage your expectations though, it’s not all that common to find them in this way but does happen). Note that tweets that have previously been embedded in a blog post or used in a Storify story will still remain even after the tweet is deleted. Other search engines have caches too and you can see an example here


Other things to try if you can’t find the tweet(s) are to see if others have retweeted the text of the tweet(s) [search for words you remember in the tweet] or a screenshot [in which case they may have included the original @handle of the person who deleted the tweet so try searching for to:handle].

If you’re the sort of person who knows what an API is then you might be able to do something on that front but alas this exceeds my knowledge.

3. What did they use to send the tweet?
All tweets used to have additional information below the tweet saying what software had been used to send the tweet but Twitter no longer adds this in. However many third party apps do. Echofon for iPhone and will tell you how a tweet was sent.

  • Sent via Twitter Web Client generally means the person was using a web browser to send the tweet
  • Sent via Twitter for iPhone (or for Android), etc – fairly explanatory (official Twitter apps)
  • Sent via Echofon for [smartphone] – these are 3rd party apps
  • Sent via Mobile Twitter – they may have used the mobile version of desktop Twitter on their smartphone

Here’s a screenshot of this information for a tweet sent via, as seen on

Screenshot 2018-08-12 17.49.37

Because Echofon is used on a mobile device it’s reasonable to assume that if that was used to send the tweet the person was using a phone. If it says something like ‘Twitter for web’ then they may have tweeted from a desktop computer.

Limitations: On an iPhone it was possible to download the Chrome browser and use Twitter’s desktop version (ie force it to show desktop rather than the more usual mobile-friendly version). Tweets sent in this way would appear as ‘from desktop’ yet would have been sent by mobile phone. It’s a while since I’ve played with this so don’t know if it’s still the case.

4. Detect changes on another website, or new information being published
Use the change detection service and get it to send you an email if the text on a website is amended, or you can set up a Google Alert to email you if a particular word or phrase appears in a newly published page on the internet

5. How many followers did X have at point Y?
One of the considerations in the recent Monroe v Hopkins Twitter libel case considered how many followers the parties had at the time the relevant tweets were made. This was estimated but in some cases you’d be able to find the exact number thanks to the Internet Archive‘s ‘Wayback Machine‘ which periodically saves copies of web pages and stores them for future searching.

Whether or not someone’s Twitter account has been archived will probably be fairly random (and presumably new accounts won’t be included – though you can of course manually add their page to the archive, or use Freezepage as mentioned above) – I was quite pleased to find that my page has been archived. The Internet Archive takes snapshots at particular time points, often several months apart – it’s pot luck what’s there.

The Internet Archive has taken several snapshots of my Twitter account and one, made at 14:52 on 14 Feb 2010 showed that I had 820 followers, by 3 August 2014 this had increased to 3,631. My account has had 44 snapshots taken between 23 Dec 2008 and 9 Jan 2017. Use the format and insert it here to test an account’s history.

6. Fake tweets – screenshots, deletions
(i) It is possible to open the Inspector panel on a browser (on Firefox on a Mac this is Command+Alt/Option+i). If you have a tweet open while doing this you can search for the text of the tweet within the Inspector panel that appears and edit it. Clicking back in the main browser window will show a fake tweet which could then be captured with a screenshot. Of course screenshots can also be faked with (ii) Photoshop-type editing or (iii) copying the text of someone else’s tweet onto a screenshot. I don’t know how prevalent this is but I’ve seen a suspected example this evening (I don’t know which of the methods suggested above they used to create it).

I asked about (i) and received confirmation from Sean Ellis who also pointed out that you could also just (iv) download a local copy of the web page, manipulate the underlying HTML code in notepad and reload a local copy and take a screenshot. There seem to be a lot of ways of cheating!

If you add extra numbers to the end of a tweet’s URL / link you are effectively creating a tweet that has never been published. When pressing enter, to open the tweet, Twitter will return a page not found – which looks as if the person has deleted the tweet. Here’s an example I created for myself using two numbers repeated to make it clear what I did.

It looks like this on the page. The page never existed!

Screenshot 2018-08-29 23.48.59

7. Further reading