If you have a full or almost full mailbox, or are using up too much of your hosting space storing old emails, here is a way to get those old emails off of the web hosting server and onto you local machine where they can be stored safely for as long as you like.
This is pretty easy, as you are just making a local folder that your mail program will access, and then just dragging all of the old emails into that folder. This process varies depending on the “fetcher” or program you use to access your email.
Below are instructions for Outlook, Mac Mail, and Thunderbird. We highly recommend Thunderbird as a mail fetcher as it works on all operating systems and is free and open source by Mozilla, the folks that bring you Firefox.
Creating a Local Folder
- Open Microsoft Outlook to access your email account.
- Select Home >>> New Items >>> More Items >>> Outlook Data File.
- Select Office Outlook Personal Folders File (.pst) and select OK.
- Type in a name for your Local Folder and hit OK.
Type in a descriptive name for your Local Folder. This is the name that will appear in your Outlook screen. Select OK. Note: This step gives you the option of entering a password for the Local Folder. This is not recommended since there is almost no way to retrieve the password if you forget it.
Your Local Folder should now appear in the side of your Outlook window.
Backing up your Email
- Select File >>> Open >>> Import.
- From the Import and Export Wizard window select Export to a File and hit Next.
- From the Export to a File window select Personal File Folder (.pst) and hit Next.
- From the Export Personal Files window select your email account from the listed items. Make sure Include Subfolders is checked. This will transfer all of your Email folders and not only your inbox. Once this is done hit Next.
- From the Export Personal FIles window choose a location to save your Local Folder (whatever location works for you). Also, check Replace Duplicates with Items Exported to make sure that you have the most up-to-date emails.
Next you will create local folders on your computer within Mac Mail. To do this go to the bottom right corner of the column labeled “Mailboxes” on the left side of the main Mail window. There will be a plus sign there.
- Click on the plus sign. You will be given three options, New Mailbox…, New Smart Mailbox… and Add RSS Feeds…
- Select “New Mailbox” from the list. Under the Location drop down menu, select “On My Mac.” Then give the folder a title that will help you remember what you have put in the folder.
- You can create multiple folders if you choose to, by repeating one through three above.
Optional – If you would like to create sub-folders when you reach the Location drop down menu described in step three, simply select one of the folders located below the “On My Mac” option and you will be able to create a sub-folder within that folder. Just remember that a main folder with subfolders in it can not also hold emails. Once you have created a folder with subfolders the main folder can no longer contain emails. The subfolders that you place within the parent folder then contain the emails.
When you have created the necessary folder(s) in the “On My Mac” section of your Mac Mail program. Open your email account that contains the messages you would like to move. Select all the messages and drag and drop them into the folders you created under the “On My Mac” section . This will remove them from the server and save them permanently on your computer for you to look at when you need to.
- Right click on “Local Folders” on the left in the Thunderbird folders pane. Then choose “New Folder”.
- Give it a name — I called mine “Archive”. It should be a subfolder of “Local Folders” already, but if it isn’t, be sure to select that option.
- Press Create Folder
You will now see a folder called “Archive” (or whatever you named it) under “Local Folders” in the left sidebar.
Now it’s time to move your emails to the local archive folder.
- Under your IMAP email account in the sidebar, find the folder you wish to archive emails from.
- Select all the messages you wish to archive and drag them to your folder under “Local Folders”. For example, I usually drag over all messages over 1 year old from each of my IMAP mail folders.