How To Download All Your AOL Email
When most of us hear AOL, we think of America Online, the now-defunct name of a once-leading internet service provider giant and an important company in the history of the internet. AOL is still remembered for its application of an extremely aggressive marketing strategy that used free trial compact discs.
Today, AOL’s business model has changed considerably and it continues to operate as a successful web services company. Whether you’ve had it for years or have just created an email account with AOL, you may want to backup your emails on your computer. To download email messages from AOL, you have a few options. Each will suit a different need, and below you’ll learn what they are.
Download Using a Gmail Account
This may sound counterintuitive, but a very simple way to download your AOL email is by using a Gmail account. If you don’t have a Gmail account, you can create one expressly for this purpose as it only takes a minute or so. Once you’ve logged into your Gmail account, follow these steps:
- Create a folder in your AOL email account for all the mail that you want to download. This will make it easier to find once the transfer to Gmail is complete.
- In your Gmail dashboard, find the gear icon in the top-right to access Settings.
- Find the “Accounts and Import” tab in the Settings menu.
- In “Accounts and Import,” click on “Import mail and contacts.”
- This will create a popup window prompting you to enter the email address you want to import from and then the password.
- Once the account is confirmed, click on “Start Import” and then click OK.
It may take a while to import all your email, so you’ll have to be patient. Once all the mail is imported, you can access each message. You can also click on the three vertical dots icon in the top-right and select “Download message” to save the email in question. It will be saved in your browser’s default download folder. This method is fine if you don’t have too many messages you want to save. If you’re dealing with a large number of emails, though, you may want to read ahead for a better way.
Download in Bulk
Alternatively, if you want to download multiple messages, apply a label to all the emails you want to download. Make sure they all have the same label. You can manage labels from the top bar icons in your Gmail dashboard.
Once you’ve labeled all the emails you want to download, access Google’s data download page here. Make sure you’re logged into your account and follow these steps:
- Once you’ve logged into the site, you have to select which data you want to download. Click on “Deselect all” on the right.
- Scroll down to find “Mail” and select it with the check mark.
- Click on the button marked “labels selected.” Here you will deselect all but the label you created for the messages you want to download.
- Scroll down and click on “Next Step.”
- Now you’ll be presented with options to customize the file type to deliver the messages and a few other functions. Read through these, but the default options should be fine.
- Once you’re ready, click on “Create archive”
- Google will prepare an archive that will be stored on their servers, and you will receive an email link on your Gmail account to retrieve it. The link will last for a week from the moment it is sent. Use the link anytime within that week to download your messages.
Download using IMAP
If you don’t want to create a Gmail account, you can use Internet Message Access Protocol, or IMAP, to retrieve email messages from the server where they are stored. AOL, like many email services, works on this protocol. You can use this to receive your email on an email application that supports IMAP.
To use IMAP to download messages, you will need a standalone email client on your computer. There are many very reliable options, such as Thunderbird and eM Client. It would take an entire article to create a guide for every individual client, but they will all follow a similar process of configuration. When configuring your email client, use the following data:
Incoming Mail (IMAP) Server:
- Server – export.imap.aol.com
- Port – 993
- Requires SSL – Yes
Outgoing Mail (SMTP) Server:
- Server – smtp.aol.com
- Port – 465
- Requires SSL – Yes
- Requires authentication – Yes
Your Login Info:
- Email address – enter your AOL address
- Password – The password for your AOL account
- Requires authentication – Yes
It is likely to take a long time to download all the messages, maybe even a few days. Once all the messages have been imported, they are effectively saved on your computer. You can further use the email client’s features to make copies of the messages or create backups.
From AOL to Your PC in a Few Easy Steps
These may not seem like very straightforward solutions, all things considered, but they are the simplest. There are a few other, more convoluted ways to do it, but you’re best off sticking to one of these options. Gmail has slightly better features than AOL, and so provides a pathway to download messages directly from their client. If you don’t have – and don’t want to have – a Gmail account, you can always use a third-party email client with AOL’s IMAP data to download your messages.
How long have you been using AOL, and how did they gain your loyalty? Also, if you know of any other ways to download emails, share them in the comments below.