ITS Service Desk

How to Export Email Messages

If you need to export email messages from your account, the proper steps to take will depend on what you expect will happen to those messages after they are exported. This article describes the process to export messages for someone else outside of SNC to read.

The exporting and subsequent reading of Gmail messages is not a native feature of Gmail. That said, we're aware of two reasonable methods to export messages. Choose the one that best fits your situation.

Method 1: Export to PDF

This isn't actually an export, so much as it is a print method. But it works well. While viewing an email message, simply click the small printer icon in the upper right area of the message. Click the "Change" button and change the printer to "Save as PDF". Then click "Save".

This will create a PDF document on your computer for that one email. You can of course do this individually for many emails.

The person who reads those messages will need to have a way to read PDF documents. But most modern devices have that capability.

Method 2: Export to .mbox

This method is a bit more reasonable if you have many emails to export. However, it does not save to the convenient PDF format.

1) Start by organizing all of the messages you need to export into Gmail labels. If you're not familiar with Gmail labels, see Google's article on how to create labels to organize Gmail.

2) Use Google's Takeout service to download the data. Be aware that Takeout allows you to download data from many GSuite apps (email, calendar, drive, etc). These steps will explain how to download only the Gmail messages in the above mentioned label.

  1. Visit the Takeout site.
  2. Click the "Select None" button to turn off all options.
  3. Scroll down to the Mail icon and click the button on the right to turn on this option.
  4. Click the down arrow to open up additional options
  5. Click the "select labels" option. Use the "Gmail labels" feature to select only the Gmail label that you created above (which should already contain the emails you want to export).
  6. Click the blue "Next" button at the bottom.
  7. Read the "Customize archive format" information and options, make any appropriate changes to the selections. If you're not sure, download it in the ".zip" format. For the Delivery method, you should probably have the file emailed to you or have it saved to your Google Drive.

At this point, you'll have a zip file which contains the email messages. Those messages will be stored in a ".mbox" format inside the zip file.

The person who reads those messages will need to have a way to unzip the file. Once unzipped, they'll also need to know how to read a ".mbox" file. As an example, Thunderbird allows you to import a ".mbox" file for easy viewing. But this requires you to have Thunderbird along with the ImportExportTools add-on.

Sending the File to Someone Else

No matter which option you use, you'll need to get your exported file to the other person. The simplest method is perhaps to just email it as an attachment.

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