Downloading Your Google Data with Google Takeout

Thursday, April 12, 2018 @ 10:42 am

Using Google Takeout, you are able to download your data from various Google products such as Gmail, Chrome, YouTube, Calendar, Photos, etc. This is useful for a number of reasons such as having an offline backup, migrating to another service, or doing some spring-cleaning.

Benefits of Downloading Your Data

  • Still access your data in case the Google product experiences a major disruption, if your account is disabled/suspended (which does happen), or if you just want to be able to read/search past emails or access attachments while not connected to the Internet
  • Tangibly see what and how much data you have on Google for you to better manage your data/online presence
  • Delete data and free up some space, or migrate to another service

How to Download Your Data

  1. Protip: if downloading Gmail data, do a general clean-up (delete unneeded emails such as notifications), and make sure to empty out your Spam and Trash before proceeding
    1. The reason behind this is the default generated Gmail archive combines ALL of your emails (including any Spam and Trash), unless you manually specify labels
    2. If you have tabs enabled in Gmail (e.g. Primary, Social, Promotions, Updates, Forums), you’ll probably want to clean out most of the non-Primary tabs
    3. A useful search query to find emails you probably don’t need is: from:noreply in:inbox
  2. Visit https://takeout.google.com/ (and log into your Google account if asked)
  3. You’ll see a list of Google products and the ability to mark the ones you want to download your data for:
  4. For the purposes of this post, we will be downloading only Gmail (“Mail”). By default all products are marked to be included, a quick way to select only Gmail is to click on the “Select None” button at the top of the page to deselect all products, then scroll down to Mail and mark it to be included:
  5. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on “Next”:
  6. The above screenshot shows the default settings.
    1. File type options: .zip or .tgz
    2. Archive size (max): 1GB, 2GB, 4GB, 10GB, or 50GB
    3. Delivery method: Send download link via email, Add to Drive, Add to Dropbox, Add to OneDrive (being security/privacy-conscious I would advise against the last 2 options)
    4. I set Archive size (max) as 50GB for simplicity. Once I did this there was a note that the archive would be in zip64 format:

      A great tool, 7-Zip (free), supports zip64 archives.
  7. Once you click on “Create Archive”, you’ll see:
  8. If you navigate away from this page or want to check on the status of your archive creation, you can go to https://takeout.google.com/settings/takeout/downloads
    1. For my 18GB worth of emails, it took (started at 1:33pm and finished at 1:28am, so just under 12 hours)
    2. Generated archives are available for download for a week
  9. The generated archive has a filename of takeout-YYYYMMDDTHHMMSSZ-00#.zip, and the contents are:
    1. Takeout\
      1. Mail\
        1. All mail Including Spam and Trash.mbox
      2. index.html
      3. The links for the above tutorials are: Thunderbird, Apple Mail, Outlook
  10. For emails, the archive comes in .mbox format which you can import into an email client like Thunderbird, or even import your emails into another email service. You can also try the ImportExportTools Thunderbird add-on (make sure the .mbox filename isn’t too long or else you’ll run into issues).
    1. Note: if you plan on backing up your archive, I’d highly recommend encrypting it with a tool like VeraCrypt (especially if you plan on backing it up to the cloud). The archive likely contains highly sensitive information.