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Emails normally stay in your email program, but occasionally you might need to keep a copy as an offline backup. Here’s how to save an email to your hard drive so it’s always available and accessible.

Saving an Email from Gmail

To save an email from Gmail, open the email and click the three dots in the top-right corner next to the “Reply” button.

The three dots in the top right of a Gmail email.

In the menu that pops up, click “Download Message.”

The "Download message" options.

Your email will be saved to your default download location in .eml format. This can be opened by any email client or any browser. There’s no way to save multiple emails simultaneously, so if you want to download a lot of messages, you’ll have to use Google’s Takeout service to save your data.

Saving an Email from Microsoft Outlook

To save an email from the Outlook client, open the email and click “File.”

Outlook's File option.

Now, click the “Save As” button.

The "Save As" menu option.

Choose the location where you want to save the email and then select the “Save” button.

The "Save As" dialog withe the Save button highlighted.

Your email will be saved in .msg format, which is a Microsoft format you’ll need to open in Outlook.

You can also drag and drop an email from Outlook into a folder on Windows. This is particularly useful if you want to save multiples emails. To do this, select the emails you want to save and drag them into a folder in Windows Explorer.

There is no way to download emails from the Outlook web app, so you’ll need to install the client. However, if you’re interested in the content of the email rather than the email itself, you can print an email to PDF from the Outlook web app and save that to your hard drive instead.

This method will work on both Windows (from Windows 8 upwards) and Mac because each has a built-in “Print to PDF” function.

To do this, open the email in the Outlook web app, click the three dots in the top right, and then select the “Print” button.

The three dots in the top-right side of the mail, and the Print option.

In the window that opens, click “Print.”

Outlook's Print option.

In the Print dialog, select “Print to PDF.”

The Printer dialog, with "Print to PDF" highlghted.

We’ve used a Windows device for this, but the process is the same for a Mac. Your email will be printed to a PDF and saved to the location of your choice.

Saving an Email from Apple Mail

To save an email from Apple Mail, open the email and click File > Save As.

Apple's File > Save As option.

In the panel that opens, change the name of the email (if required), choose a location to save it, and click the “Save” button.

Apple Mail's "Save As" dialog with the file name, location, and Save button highlighted.

The email will be saved in .rtf (Rich Text Format) rather than a specific email format. You can change this when you save it, choosing either “Raw Message Source” or “Plain Text.”

The "Save As" file format options.

Like Outlook, Apple Mail allows you to drag and drop emails, so if you have multiple emails, you can select them all and drag them to the location of your choice.

Rob Woodgate Rob Woodgate
Rob Woodgate is a writer and IT consultant with nearly 20 years of experience across the private and public sectors. He's also worked as a trainer, technical support person, delivery manager, system administrator, and in other roles that involve getting people and technology to work together.
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