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Or maybe I should ask, what is the best way to get a local, indexed, readable copy of every email (sent and received) by my Gmail account?

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Although I'd call this borderline, I still feel this is better fit at Webapps.SE. – BloodPhilia May 17 '11 at 21:16
Perhaps. Perhaps not. My opinion is that there is already too much dilution for typical users. What next a SE site for only Gmail questions? – Michael Prescott May 17 '11 at 21:39
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Set up IMAP for your favourite e-mail client, then access the "All Mail" mailbox.

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Thanks for setting me on the right path. I'd like to add that it is important to move messages from the Inbox into a Local folder. I suppose this is dependent on settings and client behavior, but if your goal is to remove messages on the server and just keep a local copy... best to learn how to do this next synch might cause you too loose messages. – Michael Prescott May 20 '11 at 1:50

Easiest (free) way....

Install Windows Live Mail, or an alternate mail client, sent it up to your Gmail account through pop3 (Make sure on your Gmail account settings, you have it so all POP mail will download, and on your client you turn off delete from server).

Then, you should be able to download all your messages - you will however loose tags.

Alternatively, connect via IMAP, however this will sync rather than be a local copy. You can then copy every message to your local mailbox, or just change the password to an invalid one (after syncing everything) and this will make sure that your copy will not be changed by any changes server-side.

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Can you get the sent messages through POP3 as well? – Scott May 17 '11 at 21:10
@Scott - No... Pop will only sync inbox/standard messages. – William Hilsum May 17 '11 at 21:10
@Scott: In Gmail, yes. Otherwise no. – grawity May 17 '11 at 21:50
@Scott: Last time I used POP3 with Gmail (which was ~3 years ago), it would just download both incoming and outgoing messages without any special configuration. – grawity May 17 '11 at 21:57
@Wil: POP3 downloads what the server gives. Most only serve the Inbox contents, but due to the specifics of Gmail (which has no real folders), you get a merged view of sent and received mail -- in fact, the same as "All mail" in the web interface. (Another peculiarity is that Gmail POP3 only serves a message* once*, so that you can fetch new mail quickly but also keep a copy at Google.) – grawity May 18 '11 at 10:36

Then you should use a mail client, so it will download every mail you have in your gmail down. And you'd better config your mail client using IMAP like the comments above, check this post:

  1. Turn on IMAP in Gmail settings
  2. Config mail clients


  • Thunderbird
  • Outlook
  • Mutt
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Have you considered using Offline Mail in GMail?

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