How to Archive Gmail Messages onto a PC

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We all familiar with Web-based Google email. Google offers an easy to use Web interface and good storage capacity for all your email messages. Once in a while, you  may want to back up your emails- in case your Internet connection is down, or any other reason you might not be able to access your email.

Google does not offer an export feature for your email messages through their Web interface.  However, there is a way to copy all of your messages to a local hard drive, or another media device.

How to download all of your messages to your hard drive using POP 3 (Post Office Protocol):

  1. Sign in into your Gmail account:

2.  Go to Settings at the top right corner of the page

3.  Click on “ Forwarding and POP/IMAP

4. Click on “Enable POP for all mail”.

5.  Click Save Changes

What we did: Enabled Gmail’s POP3 protocol so we can download all the messages into a Desktop Email Client.

There are various other email programs that come preinstalled on your computer.

Windows XP usually comes installed with Outlook Express.  Vista Comes with Windows Mail.  On Windows 7, you can download Live Mail from Microsoft’s website.  There are also third party, open source email clients, like Thunderbird 5.0.

I’ve been using Thunderbird for a number of years, so let me walk you through the set up.

1.  Download Thunderbird 5.0 at this link:

2.  Once you download the file double, click on it to run the installation process

3.  Follow on screen prompts until installation is finished.

4.  Open Thunderbird application by double clicking on the Desktop Icon.

5.  When the Mail Account Set Up window pops up, you will need to enter your name, email address and password.

6.  Click on continue button. Thunderbird 5.0 will apply all the necessary settings for incoming and outgoing servers and correct ports automatically.

7.  A new window will pop up asking to select IMAP or POP3 option. Click on POP3 and then click on create an account.


Once your Account is added to Thunderbird, it will start downloading all the emails in batches. Depending on the amount of messages and speed of your internet connection, it may take a while to download all the messages. After the download is done, all of your messages will be on your computer accessible at any time. To view your messages, just open Thunderbird and you will able to navigate through your messages.