While I am generally quite trusting in the cloud, I still enjoy having my own local backups in case something terrible happens to the Internet. If you’ve been using a service like Gmail for many years, you probably have tens of thousands of emails in your account.
One of the easiest solutions is to download all Gmail emails into an email client such as Microsoft Outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird. To do this, you first need to set up your Gmail account correctly.
Enable POP3 or IMAP access
First go to your Gmail account and click the gear icon in the top right corner, then click the Settings button. Now go to the Forwarding & POP / IMAP tab.
Now, depending on which email client you are using, you can enable POP, IMAP, or both. If you want to download all of your emails, be sure to select the “Enable POP for All Mail” option.
Note that you can read complete instructions on how to set up your email client by clicking on the Setup Instructions link right below the IMAP Access section. Or you can just read my previous post on how to set up Gmail in Outlook.
Transfer email to incoming mail
Second, depending on which client you are using, POP or IMAP, you may need to temporarily move all archived emails back to your Inbox so that your mail client can download them.
In my tests, using IMAP works best because it automatically detects all the shortcuts you have in Gmail and creates separate folders for each shortcut, at least in Outlook 2010, 2013 and 2016. You should try using IMAP first before moving all your emails to your inbox.
The great thing about Gmail is that it’s not that hard to do, and it’s not hard to re-archive everything after you’ve downloaded your mail.
Sign in to your Gmail account and click All Mail in the left column. Now click on the “All” option in the drop-down selection list and you will see a new option to select all emails in your account from the beginning.
Go ahead and click Select All XYZ Conversations in All Mail. Now just click the “Move to Inbox” button. This will move everything to your Inbox and keep all your shortcuts, so don’t worry about that.
Finally, you go ahead and follow the instructions to set up Gmail with Outlook or Thunderbird and your emails should start downloading. Depending on how many emails you have, it may take a while to download everything.
Also, don’t forget to check the Leave a copy of this message on the server box. You don’t want to download emails and delete them from Gmail. Be sure to check out my other posts on how to transfer email between two Gmail accounts and the best methods for switching to a new email address. If you have any questions, please leave a comment here. Enjoy!