How to Export Selected Emails from Gmail


Have you ever wished to have a backup copy of your go-to emails? Or maybe you're migrating your digital data and want to carry over some important Gmail conversations? In this article, we'll talk about how you can use Gmail's Export feature to do just that.

Gmail's Export Feature

Gmail's Export feature is a hidden treasure that many users aren't aware of. It allows you to export and download emails directly from your Gmail account to your computer or any cloud storage. And possibly the best part is that it gives you the ability to select the emails you wish to export, instead of blindly downloading everything and then finding those that you really need. Gmail's export feature primarily depends on the Google Takeout utility, which supports a variety of downloadable formats.

Why Export Emails from Gmail?

There are a lot of reasons why you'd want to export emails from Gmail. For instance, you may want to create a backup of certain emails that are important for your work or personal use. Or maybe you're planning to switch your email service provider. In this case, exporting your emails ensures you don’t leave behind any important data. Even in day-to-day use, you might need email content or attachments locally saved on your system for offline access.

Note: Exporting emails can also be a savior when you've reached your Google Account's storage limit. After exporting, you can safely delete the old emails. It frees up the cloud space without you losing access to any crucial information.

Exporting Selected Emails

Note: The max number of emails you can export using this method is 50. If you need to bulk export more many more emails, you might be better off using Google Takeout.

  1. Open Gmail and tick the checkbox next to the emails you want to export. Note that if you want to select all emails in a given category, label, etc., you'll need to then click the link at the top of the page that says "Select all X conversations in [Label]".
  1. Once selected, click on the "More" button - it's the one with three vertical dots in the top menu bar.

  2. From the dropdown, select "Forward as attachment".

  1. A new composing email window will pop-up with your selected emails as .eml file in the attachments.

  2. Now you can either send this email to yourself or any other recipient to download the emails from. Remember, keep the recipient trusted as it might contain valuable information.

  3. Open the received email and download the .eml files. Your exported emails are now ready!

And there you go, in just a few steps, you've got a copy of your selected emails. The ".eml" file format can be opened by various email clients like Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird, and even by Gmail itself.

Using Google Takeout for Bulk Email Exporting

Google's Takeout lets you export all of your emails at once, whether you want it or not, as a single file. This is a great place to download any of your Google-hosted data.

The process is simple. Visit the Google Takeout page, then select your data to include (this is where you select "Gmail"). You can also choose to include other Google-related date like your Google Drive files, Google Photos, and so on. Then, click on "Next step" to proceed to the delivery method.

Note: While Google Takeout is an excellent tool for bulk operations, granular controls are quite limited. Although you can restrict exported emails by both Category and Label.

Next you'll select the destination, file format (.zip or .tgz), and max file size. If the given file size is exceeded, your export will be split into multiple files.

Unlike the "Forward as Attachment" method, Google Takeout will export your emails in the MBOX file format. This format allows multiple emails per file, unlike EML, which is great for bulk downloading and importing to other mail clients.

Saving Emails to Google Drive

Now, let's say, you really don't want to download gigabytes of data to your local computer and would prefer to store everything in Google Drive instead. Luckily, Google Takeout supports multiple destinations for your export, including Drive.

Simply click the dropdown menu under "Transfer to" and select "Add to Drive". Once you click "Create export" and wait for the export to be created and transferred, you'll find it there.


All in all, Gmail provides a few nice ways to export your emails, each having their pros and cons. Whether you pick the MBOX or EML format, Google Takeout or saving to Google Drive, it all depends on your needs and workflow.

Last Updated: January 22nd, 2024
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