©2021 Donald R. Snow -- This page last updated 2021-09-06.

These Freeware Corner notes are published in TAGGology, our Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group (UVTAGG) monthly newsletter.  They are also posted on my Freeware Corner Notes page on  where the links are active and there may be corrections, updates, and additional information about the topic in other class notes.


Many of us use Gmail as our email program.  This is a well-run email system and your free Google account includes many other of there products, but this artice only deals with Gmail.  Recently, I received a note from them that my Google account was 75% full and I needed to do something before I run out of space.  This space includes all my other Google items such as My Maps, but my Gmail is what's taking up most of the space.  Several years ago (Mar 2017), mu Freeware Corner article was on backing up Gmail and how to read the backup file, so I went back and tried what I wrote then.  This is an update to that note and only deals with backing up your Gmail, not how you read the backup file you get.  That will be the subject of another Freeware Corner article.  A nd it doesn't seem to work the way it did several years ago. (sigh) THE


Google has a Takeout (backup) program at . This program makes a backup copy of whatever you want in your Google account. Your Google account can have more than 50 Google products such as Gmail, Google Maps, My Maps, Google Drive, your Profile, and much more. The Takeout program is free, but hard to find in Google.  The easiest way to get to it is to click on the link above.  Or you can find it by doing a Google site search, e.g. search Google for " takeout" (without the quotes).


At the Takeout (backup) program in your Google account you can select what you want to back up of the more than 50 Google products.  If you don't want to include everything, click Deselect All so you get the option of what you want to select. To backup your email go down the list (alphabetical order) to Mail and put a check in the box.  This defaults to selecting all your emails.  To backup only certain labels of your email click on All Mail Date Included which opens your Gmail labels for you to check which to back up.  Click Next and it starts collecting the data and forming the backup. It will send you an email, when it is done, and it may take hours or even days, depending on how much you are backing up. The email they send tells you where to go to download the file(s). You could store them "in the cloud", but then you have to be online to red them, so I usually download them to my own computer. When the email came, it told me where the file was stored so I could download it to my own computer.  They include an mbox file which is the format used by several email programs to store their data.  Here is a screenshot of the Google Takeout page while it was processing my Gmail.

Screenshot of Google Takout Page While Processing


The file extension .mbox refers to the format that many email programs use to store emails and is the format that Google Takeout produces with all your Gmails.  For me this was a many-gigabyte file for just some of my email.  Google suggests that to look at it you set up the free email program THUNDERBIRD on your computer and open the mbox archive in that.  That used to work for me, but now it doesn't, for some reason. So, when I figure it out, that will be the subject of another Freeware Corner article. The mbox file backup includes all the attachments and other items with your email.  There are also other programs that will open the mbox file and I'll mention those in the later article.


If you use an email program other than Gmail, and it doesn't have an easy way to back up all your old emails, you could consider getting a free Gmail account and setting up a filter in your email account to automatically forward a copy of each email, received or sent, to your new Gmail account. Then, these could all be backed up with Gmail. Of course, this wouldn't back up earlier emails before you started this system. Since Gmail doesn't have a way of automatically sending yourself a copy of the email, I started several years ago, sending myself a copy of everything I write. Gmail does have a sent label with some of this, but not all. For example, if I send an email from a different computer, the copy I send myself is always there, even if the Sent one isn't.


Google Helps -- 
Ubergizmo -- 
How-To Geek -- 


Since many of you use Gmail, this Freeware Corner article may help you back up your emails.  I'll write another article on how to read the mbox file you get from the Gmail backup, when I get that figured out.  Everyone says it's easy, but the steps don't seem to work on my computer. More later.
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