How to save a Gmail message?

This should be a real simple thing to do but I can’t figure out how to do it. I have about a dozen messages in my Gmail inbox that I want to save to my local hard disk. How do I do it? I’ve scoured the online help and have come up with nothing. I admit I should have checked this out before making it my main mail system. I hope the answer isn’t Save Page As in the Firefox File menu.

28 responses to this post.

  1. I just log in via pop3 and download them. It is a pain, but that’ts the only way I get it done, so far.


  2. Yep, Close

    More Options – Show Original – File Print to a local file


  3. Crit, can I do that for mail that I’ve already read?


  4. weird. I was thinking about this last night. Wondering if I could write a script to export all my gmail messages into a single OPML file. (without attachments)

    There are a few open source APIs around I ahve found. BUt a good place to start asking might be here:

    and this discussion from this group : (forwards to long ugly url)

    hope this helps.


  5. i’m not sure about the “print to local file” part, but yes the answer is save the plain text of the message… or use pop as crittenden suggests.


  6. Stephen, that’s too much work. Oy. If I could get it to “print” a whole conversation, then that’s manageable.

    I can’t believe they don’t offer a way to download a whole mailbox or a labeled box.


  7. Posted by Sriram on January 23, 2006 at 9:24 am

    >> Crit, can I do that for mail that I’ve already read?
    u can mark the emails (that u want dnlded) ‘unread’ and dnld thru pop.
    i know it is not the best way to do it. but 🙂
    also, remember to set pop/forward setting to ‘keep a copy on the gmail server’.


  8. If you don’t mind having the email saved as .pdf format then you can expand the whole conversation, bring up the print menu, and then choose the drop box on the bottom left to “save as pdf.” Also, if you enable pop forwarding on your account you can choose whether to have ALL mail synced or mail from now on. I always have a client getting all the pop mail just so I have a local copy of it all (and in turn it’s indexed in spotlight).


  9. Posted by Darren Stone on January 23, 2006 at 9:47 am

    I use POP3 with to keep a local backup of my Gmail account on my iBook and my email situation has never been better. All of my email is indexed in Spotlight and I can read saved messages off-line when needed.

    I still use the web interface as my primary mail reader, but I fire up periodically to keep the backup up-to-date.


  10. Dave,

    Your best bet for this is probably along the lins of what has already been suggested and use a POP application to pull it down…I found it to be a PITA, too, so I use either Eudora or Apple’s Mail to set up a floder for each account. I only use gmail for remote, browser-based viewing/composing, and then I can use the POP apps to actually save off entire folders of correspondence.

    Hope this helps,



  11. Posted by Another Dave on January 23, 2006 at 9:50 am

    Jon Udell has written an enlighting post on that topic as well:


  12. “Stephen, that’s too much work. Oy. If I could get it to “print” a whole conversation, then that’s manageable.”

    The print button shows the entire conversation for me. Of course, we should be able to get our mail out with an export in Maildir format, but my guess is it’s not even on the same servers.


  13. I just tried the standard PRINT option for a conversation and it opens a new window with just the conversation on it with no other Google links etc. So the ‘File save as’ would work OK for that though there is no headers.

    I would go for the sync’d copy via POP3 gives you everything like a normal mailbox.

    Or setup an e-mail address to forward the message to such as print@scripting and if a message comes into that alias have it print to a file on arrival.


  14. Posted by Héctor on January 23, 2006 at 10:04 am

    What about libgmail ( The library comes with an utility to do exactly this. Didn’t try it, though.


  15. Posted by Fischer Arnaud on January 23, 2006 at 10:08 am

    the best is to use Firefox extension: SCRAPBOOK
    In one right click you will be able to save on your hard disk any of your Email from Gmail.
    You can then easily organise them in folder….


  16. Posted by vanni on January 23, 2006 at 10:28 am

    I use my Mail app on mac os x to read my Gmail. I then save messages in my GmailArchibe Folder on my HD. You need to create a new user etc for Gmail in your Mail app. On windows you can do the same using mozila.


  17. Hey Dave,

    Gmail’s POP and Frontier’s tcp.getMail should give you a fair amount of control for getting and organizing.


  18. Thanks everyone — I am downloading all my mail now into the Mac Mail app.

    Thomas — wow — I hadn’t thought of using tcp.getmail. I’m such a dork! ;->


  19. Posted by HullaBaloo on January 23, 2006 at 11:01 am

    Hi Dave,

    Have you checked the GreaseMonkey scripts?


  20. Posted by Andrew on January 23, 2006 at 2:18 pm

    I use gMail’s free email forwarding to always forward my email to my ISP email account. I download that weekly and never read it, back it up as part of my scripts. That way I always get a “hard” soft copy of all gmail email I get in case gmail ever goes belly up or I need to read an old mail and the net is down.

    This method doesn’t let me save Sent messages though.


  21. Posted by Ryan Funduk on January 24, 2006 at 9:45 pm

    Just thought I’d point out that not ‘keeping a copy of messages of server’ doesn’t matter as gmail manages the whole deal (including capturing any sent messages from Mail aswell, which is nice). Mail (which btw should really be called ‘iMail’ no?) is set to remove messages when moved from the Inbox (by default) and nothing in my gmail box has changed one bit.

    Infact if you look at the gmail help on setting up the POP it shows a picture of the prefs window with the remove from server option checked off!

    Just a bit of trivia I guess :).


  22. Posted by jason on January 25, 2006 at 12:05 pm

    There’s one other nice thing about using (or any other mail program) with Gmail. If you set up your secure SMTP to use Google’s SMTP server, when you send a message from, Gmail saves a copy of it so it shows up in your conversation threads.

    This is a killer feature for me! Now I can use webmail or and have a copy of everything I send from either. Now if I could get Gmail’s sent items to show up in’s sent items, it would be perfect. But as it is, it’s still pretty good!


  23. You might try an offline browsing tool such as HTTRACK. It’s not clear if this would work with an AJAX heavy site like gmail, but it’s the simplest solution and worth a shot. Actually this would work find with the javascript-less version of gmail.


  24. Posted by Sangamesh on February 6, 2006 at 10:46 pm

    I need to download all the msgs in my gmail account from all the folders (inbox, drafts, sent items, trash…) to microsoft outlook

    is it possible if i use pop access…….


  25. Thanks Dave,
    I’m just a beginner at this technology stuff. Between Dell Technican’s, MIcrosoft software tech’s I’ve learned more about the inside computer technology & how to wire adapters


  26. Posted by Elliott on May 10, 2006 at 1:49 pm

    It is possible to download all messages to Microsoft Outlook or almost any other email client. Use POP3, which Gmail provides for free. Go to and log in, then click “Settings” in the top right corner. Click on “Forwarding and POP” and check the box that says “enable POP for all mail. Then click the link there ( to see the configuration instructions for your particular email client (Microsoft Outlook).


  27. Posted by Ari on July 17, 2006 at 2:57 am

    Jaxon, you said:

    If you set up your secure SMTP to use Google’s SMTP server, when you send a message from, Gmail saves a copy of it so it shows up in your conversation threads.

    How do you do this?

    Also, what happens with labels?? Do all the email just get stored in the inbox?


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