Technology in terms you understand. Sign up for the Confident Computing newsletter for weekly solutions to make your life easier. Click here and get The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet — FREE Edition as my thank you for subscribing!

How do I save email when using Yahoo, GMail or Hotmail webmail?


At my Yahoo email account box i have more than 3000 messages already
read. I would like to keep some of them “forever”. How could I transfer
them to a safer place, like a pendrive? I know that some email accounts
(Yahoo, gmail…) say they will keep them, but…things change, we all
know that.

It’s not just that things change, things break. Passwords
get forgotten. Email accounts get lost.

Depending on exactly what you want to do I can think of two general
approaches to save email for posterity. One, at least, will work with
any email service. The other will depend on exactly what features the
service provides.



My (strongly) preferred approach is to use a POP3 email client, like Outlook, Outlook Express, Thunderbird or any of a hundred or so others, and download your email to your PC. Once downloaded you can typically save individual messages however you like – my favorite approach is to create a special folder in the email program and copy things there.

“My (strongly) preferred approach is to use a POP3 email client …”

One of the reasons I recommend it so strongly is that it’s also my recommended approach to backing up your webmail, regardless of how long you plan to keep it. As I said above, stuff happens, and having all of your email saved on your PC (where you should also be backing it up along with all of your other important files) means that even if the webmail service goes away completely, you haven’t lost your important messages.

Windows Live Hotmail now supports POP3, as does GMail. Yahoo, unfortunately, apparently only supports it in some countries. There are unofficial POP3 add-ons that may allow you to access Yahoo and other web mail services.

An alternative, of course, is to forward your important emails to a service, like perhaps GMail, that you can then download from.

Print to PDF

I think of this as more of an archival approach, but since almost every webmail service has some kind of function to print a message, you can use this function in conjunction with a PDF printer to create PDFs on your PC of specific emails that you want to save.

If you don’t have a PDF printer, I’m partial to the free PDF Creator. Download and install that and you’ll find a new “printer” on your machine. Anything you print to that printer will be saved as a PDF.

Here’s your question, which I get by email, saved as a PDF, and displayed in Foxit Reader:

Email saved as PDF

PDFs have become fairly universal, and as I said above, you can save just about anything you can print: email – plain or HTML – web pages, documents and more.

The downside is that once printed it’s no longer email, so you can’t easily use it again to, say, forward or reply. If that’s your real intent then I’ll refer you back to my first suggestion of downloading into an email client.

You can still print to PDF from there for archival, if you like.

Do this

Subscribe to Confident Computing! Less frustration and more confidence, solutions, answers, and tips in your inbox every week.

I'll see you there!

15 comments on “How do I save email when using Yahoo, GMail or Hotmail webmail?”

  1. I use gmail exclusively. All email from my main Comcast account (the one I gave to get access to this comment section) is automatically forwarded to my gmail account, which has really great spam filters. But I have a second comcast account which is used only for the purpose of saving important email. I simply forward it to myself at that account.

  2. Based on your recommendation above I installed PDF Creator. Sounded interesting. But, when I installed the software I was asked if I wanted to install Yahoo toolbar to my Firefox. I said no and unchecked no. I know to read the install options. Well, a Yahoo toolbar was installed anyway. I seem to recall you wrote on a subject similar to this recently-and not as an advocate. I uninstalled the whole mess this morning after installing it last night. Thought you’d want to know before recommending it again.

    I just double checked, and while PDFCreator does offer the Yahoo toolbar, following the instructions to turn it off (which required unchecking an option on two sequential pages in the install wizard) did work, and no toolbar was installed. I agree that this approach is annoying (as I mentioned in Why do I suddenly have another toolbar in my browser?).

    – Leo
  3. Just a warning about the latest version of PDF creator 0.9.8. It’s picked up a bad press in the forums because it compulsorily installs various other bits of s/w, added toolbars etc.
    Maybe the earlier version 0.9.7 from Feb 2009 is OK, but I think I’ll pass on this one, though I like the idea.

    As I noted in this article recommending PDFCreator – simply pay attention to your choices as you install, and you can avoid the additional software.

    – Leo
  4. I use Outlook Express and I keep E Mails in designated folders, just as you suggest.
    This works fine.


    When the Outlook Express file storage gets to around Two Gigabytes (mine was at 2.5 GB when it failed) the OE function goes belly up. The error report is 0x800C0133 and Microsoft’s web site recognizes the problem. I have been on the MSFT desktop share with one of their technicians to no avail.

    I have now created an extra Identity and I have split the OE files between two Identities.

    What do you think ???

    I think that I hear about enough problems with Outlook Express that I would use a different program. I’m happy with Thunderbird.

    – Leo
  5. PDFCreator didn’t install any toolbars on my system. I simply followed the instructions.

    Though I was wondering that this option should have been built-in like the XPS printer. And like it is for MS Office / OpenOffice

  6. At one time you could sign up with Yahoo and receive occassional offers from them and keep receiving the POP service. I did and been doing it for years.

    Otherwise you could search the web for ‘webmail’ extensions from Thunderbird.

    I currently use the Seamonkey email program (and have used Thunderbird – very similar), anyway once the emails are downloaded, I right-click on each I want to save and save it as a HTML file.

    Then using Nero INCD, which allows to you to set up a CDRW (rewritable) as a mini hard-drive. I copy all my saved emails (and other documents) to a CDRW. When the CDRW gets full I copy everything from the CDRW to a CDR, format the CDRW and start over again.

    I’ve been doing this for years with my documents, downloaded programs,pictures and whatever else I’ve wanted to save.

  7. It’s all very well to talk about saving each e-mail via some program or another, but what your correspondent needs (and so do I) is a way to copy 3000 e-mails that already exist in Yahoo to the home computer with one click. Opening and forwarding every e-mail, even just the important ones, is not an option.

    Those who don’t want to use PDFCreator can use CutePDF or PrimePDF, or some other one–aren’t they all about the same? CutePDF always works for me.


    Then using a free service like Yahoo was a bad choice wasn’t it? Move to a service that lets you actually download your email with a POP3 client.

    – Leo
  8. I pay $20 yearly for Yahoo Plus which I put through Outlook. I didn’t go with Gmail which does have IMAP capability (making things easier if you are syncing email on multiple computers/devices) because I liked the idea of getting the mail I wanted to save OFF the server.. Is that why you listed POP3 and not IMAP? because you don’t want it to remain on the server? IMAP can also be slower than POP3 – maybe that was why…

  9. In Yahoo email, you can right click the body of the email, in the box click “This Frame” > “Save This Frame As” and direct it to a folder I created in My Documents. Works pretty well in Yahoo mail anyway.

  10. thnx question that comes to me is when i send a mail through an email client it gets save in the “sent items” of the email [link removed] there anyway in which i can also save the same mail on the server too eg: that i can also access the sent items by browsing my yahoo account,incase if my hard disk crashes.wud be grateful for this solution.thnx in adv.

    I’m actually not aware of a way to do that, other than to remember to CC yourself on every email you send.


  11. I use a library computer for my PC–slightly communal. Is that why I lose each Yahoo email when I read it once?

    As long as you log out of your Yahoo account when you’re done, and make sure that no one else steals your password, no – it doesn’t have to be as you describe.


  12. From my in box Yahoo Email List,

    I highligthed the headings To, Subject and Sent Date

    Use the “Copy” the headings i HL,

    Place cursor on the Subject heading and

    Right Click “Save Taget as ” ….

    Past the Title I coped.. To, Subject and Date
    as file name removing the comma slash and periods

    Saves in orginal HTML format to PC folder…

  13. I’ve prepared, sent and have tried to save several emails from my deenalouise@ YAHOO account but my emails aren’t saving why? I’ve used several different library computers.


  14. There is a free website called you can chose up to 25 emails at a time and save them as a single pdf file (you can print them if you would like). you don’t have to download anything and its free!


Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article.
  • Comment on the article.
  • No personal information.
  • No spam.

Comments violating those rules will be removed. Comments that don't add value will be removed, including off-topic or content-free comments, or comments that look even a little bit like spam. All comments containing links and certain keywords will be moderated before publication.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.