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How to download Gmail emails and export your data

How to download Gmail emails and export your data

5
min read
Overview:
Overview:

Whether you're switching email providers or need to preserve email documentation for another reason, it's important to know how to download your emails from Gmail. You can download Gmail emails to your computer and upload them to a new provider like Yahoo to migrate your data. Or, you can simply make an archive on an external hard drive to save space in Gmail (since the limit for free Gmail users is 15 GB). 

In this article, we'll show you multiple ways to export Gmail emails. From saving a single thread to exporting all emails with a certain tag, you can do a lot with your email data.

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How to download emails from Gmail one at a time

The simplest way to download your emails is one at a time within Gmail. You can download Gmail emails in just a couple of clicks:

  1. Open the email you want to download.
  2. Click the three dots in the upper right corner to access the email menu.
  3. From there, click Download message.
A screenshot of the email template in Gmail and the three-dots menu highlighting the Download message section

You'll see an EML file pop into your Downloads folder.

One note here: You’ll need an email program to open the EML file. You don't have to use Gmail. You can use another program like Outlook or Yahoo Mail, but standard word processing programs can’t read EML files.

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How to download an email attachment from Gmail

If you want to save just an email attachment, not an actual email, to your computer, hover over the content. You can then click either the down-pointing arrow to download it to your computer or the Google Drive icon to save it to your drive.

A screenshot of the attachment in Gmail email showing the download button

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How to download an email as a PDF

If you want a more versatile file than an EML file, you can save emails as PDFs. Here's the process:

  1. Open an email.
  2. Click the Print icon in the top right.
  3. Change the printer to Print to PDF.
  4. Save the file.

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How to download Gmail data from your Google Account

Downloading emails one at a time will get pretty time-consuming if you’ve got more than a handful you’d like to save. That’s why you can download some or all of your emails from your Gmail account with Google Takeout. This is useful for archiving your Gmail account on your hard drive or downloading specific tags and categories. The basic steps are:

  1. Go to Google Takeout.
  2. Select Gmail and the folders to download.
  3. Select the download file type and destination.

Read on for some more in-depth details on how to do this.

1. Go to Google Takeout

Takeout is Google's data download service. Just head to takeout.google.com to get started.

A screenshot of the heading and subheading in takeout.google.com

Alternatively, you can go to your Google Account by clicking on your profile photo in other apps like Gmail, Drive, Docs, or Calendar. Then, click on Data & Privacy:

A screenshot of the left side bar menu inside the Manage your Google Account section

Scroll down to Download or delete your data:

A screenshot of the Download or delete your data section located at the near bottom inside the Data & priacy section of your Google Account

You will now be at Google Takeout.

2. Select Gmail data

A screenshot of the Google Takeout UI that can be seen after clicking the Download your data section in Data & privacy

In Google Takeout, you'll see dozens of Google apps you can download data from. Scroll to the Gmail option. You can choose to download all of your Gmail data or just certain folders like Sent, Inbox, Trash, Unread, and more.

If you want to download all messages from a certain sender, you can create a tag for that sender in Gmail and then download all messages with that tag. You can make tags for anything you want, so you can download any subset of emails.

A screenshot of dozens of Google apps you can download data from in Google Takeout

Google Takeout exports emails from Gmail in the MBOX format and it exports your profile settings in the JSON format. Most email clients can read MBOX files. For more versatility, you’ll have to use a file converter.

Finally, scroll to the very bottom and click Next Step.

3. Choose the destination, file type, and frequency, then download

A screenshot of the destination options after you have chosen your apps where you can download data from in Google Takeout

Here, you'll choose the destination for the download between Google Drive, Dropbox, One Drive, or Box. You can also download your data through a link Google sends via email. The download link will be valid for one week.

A screenshot of the the destination for the download between Google Drive, Dropbox, One Drive, or Box n Google Takeout.

You'll select the frequency here, as well. You can download emails from your Gmail once or every other month.

Choose from a ZIP or TGZ file and set the maximum file size from 2 MB to 10 MB. Files over the size you select will be broken into multiple exports.

Finally, click Create Export.

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How to share Gmail emails with Streak Share

While it’s convenient to download Gmail emails this way, you’ll get EML or MBOX files that need to be opened with an email provider. Luckily, there’s an even easier option; you can use Streak Share to share an email that can be opened with any browser.

Streak is a simple CRM and project management tool that lives inside Gmail. It has a range of features that can be helpful whether you manage a sales team or pound the pavement as a solopreneur. One of these is Streak Share. 

The feature allows you to create a shareable link for any email in your inbox. Your recipient can view the link on whatever browser or device they have, and you can revoke access at any time. 

With Streak installed, you'll see a link icon next to the menu icon in the top right corner of an email:

A screenshot showing the email template in Gmail with the Strek Share icon in red

Simply click this icon to create a sharing link and copy it to your clipboard. (Another Get Link button appears at the bottom of the email thread, too.) Here's what the email above looks like when a recipient views it through the link:

A screenshot of the email template shared using Streak Share

You can also turn off email sharing at any time. Just click the link icon or button once more, and you'll see a toggle switch to turn sharing off:

A screenshot of the toggle switch that pops up to turn the Streak email sharing off after clicking the Streak Share icon

This link automatically includes future emails in the thread so you don't have to return and update the link at a later date. Downloaded emails in Gmail are snapshots in time, so they don't update with future thread messages.

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Download Gmail emails the way you want

There are many methods for downloading Gmail emails, and if you’re reading this, it’s up to you to decide what the most efficient, rational way looks like for you. You can save specific Gmail messages right within your inbox, or you can use Google Takeout to get a full record of your data, or for a more collaborative way to share emails with your team, check out Streak.

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