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How to download emails from Gmail

If you want to backup a certain email, here's how.

Published onMarch 30, 2023

If you have an important Gmail email, you may decide to create a backup. This can be helpful if you think you’re going to lose access to the work Gmail account, if you plan to delete all emails in the account, or if you need to attach the email to another email. So how do you download emails from Gmail for this purpose? If you don’t need the whole email, you can also consider just downloading the attachments.

Read more: How to create multiple inboxes in Gmail


Downloading a Gmail email can only be done with Gmail on desktop. Open the email in question, and click the More button (signified by the three vertical dots). Then select Download message. It will then download to your computer as an EML file, which you can only open in a local email client, such as Outlook, Thunderbird, iOS Mail, or macOS Mail.


How to download emails from Gmail

Google currently doesn’t offer the email downloading feature on their mobile app. So you need to put down your phone and head to a desktop machine to log into your Gmail account.

Locate the email you want to download and open it. Then look to the far-right and click the More link, which is the three vertical dots. There, one of the options will say Download message. Select that.

gmail desktop more link

The email will then download to your computer as an EML file.

download emails from gmail

If you have more than one email to download, you’ll need to repeat this process for each one. Gmail currently doesn’t let you do more than one email simultaneously. One workaround is to use IMAP to download all emails in the Gmail account to a local email client. Then delete the ones you don’t need to keep.

How to open downloaded Gmail emails

microsoft outlook app icon google pixel 4 xl homescreen

Once you have downloaded an email from Gmail, how do you reopen it?

There’s no way to upload them to a new Gmail account except via IMAP. So you’ll need a local email client to view these downloaded EML files. For example, if you have an Apple device, you’ll likely have iOS Mail or macOS Mail already installed. If you have a Windows device, then Outlook or Thunderbird will be your likely options.

Once you have one of these email clients open, you can then upload EML files to read them. Or you can email EML files to yourself as an attachment, download them to another desktop device, and use the installed email client on that device.

Read more: What to do if your Gmail is not receiving emails


The only way is to download the files to a local email client, such as Outlook, and then use IMAP to synchronize with Gmail.

No, but you can change the file format yourself when you have the file on your computer, such as TXT. But the email will likely be a mess, with lots of metadata and HTML also thrown in.