How To Export Gmail Messages to a Text File

Some Gmail users might need to save secondary backup copies of their most essential emails. However, Gmail doesn’t include any built-in options to export selected emails as text (TXT) files, or any other file format for that matter. It lets you archive messages, but if you actually need to find those messages again later, the archive gets bogged down and useless pretty quickly. Nevertheless, you can still save Gmail messages as text documents with a few workarounds. This is how you can export Gmail emails to the text (TXT) file format.

How To Export Gmail Messages to a Text File

Copy and Paste Gmail Emails into Notepad

One of the more obvious ways to export emails to the TXT format is simply to copy and paste them. This is a quick and straightforward way to save emails as text documents, and it’s pretty fool proof, as you’ve probably copied and pasted text a million times by now. First, open a Gmail message, and then select all its text with the cursor. Press the Ctrl + C hotkey to copy the email to the Windows clipboard.

Next, click the Cortana button on the Windows 10 taskbar to open that app. Enter ‘Notepad’ in the search box, and then select to open Notepad. Press the Ctrl + V hotkey to paste the email into Notepad. Click File and then click Save, enter a title for the TXT document, and press the Save button.

Open the Emails in Google Docs

A Google+ account with Google Drive and Docs enables you to save Gmail messages as TXT documents without copying and pasting them. You can save the Gmail emails as PDF documents and open them in Google Docs. Then you can download the email from Docs as a TXT file. This is how you can download Gmail messages from Docs.

  • First, set up a Google Account at this page, if required.
  • Open a Gmail email that you’re looking to save as a text file.
  • Press the Print all button at the top right of the email.

  • The Print all button will open the Print window shown directly below. Click the Change button to open the Select a destination window.

  • Select the Save to Google Drive option, and press the Save button.

  • Open your Google Drive cloud storage. Now it will include a PDF copy of the saved email.
  • Right-click the email PDF and select Open with and then select Google Docs. That will open the email’s text in Google Docs as shown below.

  • Now you can click File and then Download as and select Plain Text (.TXT). That will save the Gmail email to your default download folder as a text (TXT) document. From there, you can move it to whatever folder you would like, just as you would with any other file.

Save Gmail Emails as PDFs and convert them to Text Documents

Alternatively, you can instead convert your saved Gmail email PDFs to TXT documents. There are plenty of third party software packages and web apps with which you can convert PDFs to TXT. This is how you can convert Gmail PDFs to text documents with the PDF to TXT web app.

  • Open an email in Gmail that you need to save as a text document.
  • Press the Print all button to open the Print window again.
  • Click the Change button, and then select the Save as PDF option.

  • Press the Save button to open the Save As window.
  • Then choose a folder to save the PDF to, and press the Save button.
  • Next, open this web app on the Online2PDF site in your browser.

  • Press the Select button on the PDF to TXT page. Then select the recently saved email PDF.
  • Press the Convert button to convert the PDF document to TXT format. The text copy of the email will automatically save to your default download folder.

Open Gmail Emails in Email Client Software

You can open emails from various webmail accounts in separate email client software packages. Some client software also enables you to export, or save, emails as TXT files. Thus, you could open your Gmail messages in email client software and then export them from there as text documents. This is how you can export Gmail messages to the plain text file format with the freeware Thunderbird email client.

  • First, press the Free Download button on this page to save Thunderbird’s installer to Windows. Go through Thunderbird’s setup wizard to add the email client software to Windows.
  • Next, open Gmail, click the Settings button and select Settings.
  • Click Forwarding and POP/IMAP and select the Enable IMAP option.

  • Press the Save changes button.
  • Open Thunderbird and enter your Gmail email account details in the Mail Account Setup window.
  • Select the IMAP (folders option) setting on the account setup window. Then manually enter your Gmail server hostname details.
  • When you’ve entered all the required details, you can press a Create Account button. Then you can open your Gmail emails in Thunderbird.
  • Click the Download Now button on this website page to add the ImportExportTools add-on to Thunderbird.
  • Click Tools, then Add-ons, and then Install in Thunderbird. Then select the ImportExportTools XPI to install the add-on, and restart Thunderbird.
  • Thereafter, you can right-click the Thunderbird inbox and select ImportExportTools followed by Export all the messages in the folder and select Plain text format to export your Gmail emails in Thunderbird as TXT files.

So there are various ways you can export your Gmail emails as TXT files by utilizing Google Drive, Docs, PDF to TXT converters, Thunderbird, and other client software. Some of these options are a bit more labor intensive than others, but it’s always good to have the chance to choose. Then you can back up your more essential Gmail emails and even add shortcuts for them to the Windows desktop. If you just need to save a message as a reminder or a receipt of some sort, then it’s probably going to be easiest if you just use the copy-and-paste method, though.

4 thoughts on “How To Export Gmail Messages to a Text File”

John Hall says:
On my Windows 10 computer, I can get the print dialog with Ctrl+P
Freonpsandoz says:
The print capability has been removed from the “new improved” gmail. You need to switch back to “classic gmail” to access it.

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