A while back I wrote a post on email clutter. One one hand, it's great that we live in an age where we can electronically archive writings, photos and even music. These days you can buy a hard drive for under $200 that's smaller than a toaster and holds the equivalent of a record store or a public library. Or probably both, come to think of it.
The inevitable downside of course is that we have a lot of "electronic" clutter: disorganized messes of old emails, mp3s that either aren't tagged right or that we aren't really listened to, too many shortcut icons, etc. And there's also the risk of loosing or damaging a disk or hard drive and thus possibly losing your only copy of hundreds or thousands of documents. I'm sure there are AOL-twit families from the past 10 years who've taken nothing but digital photos of their kids and family trips, never bothered making prints or back-up copies, and saw their entire family photograph collection disappear when their hard drive bit the dust. Granted I'm a hell of lot more cautious than those types, but even so, you can't be TOO safe.
I've been using email now for about 16 and a half years. I still have saved copies of certain older emails, which hardly take up any room since they had to be all unformatted text-based and typically didn't have attachments. Though I've been letting the email in my Yahoo account get enormous. I have at least 1300 in my Inbox, and over a dozen folders with other saved emails. I needed to find out how to get copies of all of these to my hard drive, so that I could make copies to burn to disc or what not. This way I'm not relying on Yahoo to keep everything safe.
After sifting though numerous stupid replies (e.g., "u like go highlite the email than copy and paste it to a word doc and do that 4 evry email") I did finally figure out how to transfer Yahoo emails saved to my hard drive. As for whether the same trick will work with other web-based mail providers (Hotmail, G-mail, etc.), I really don't know, though I suspect it would for some and not others.
Anyway, in essence here's what you have to do:
- Get a mail-reading program that you can run from your desktop (Outlook, Eudora, etc.). For the sake of simplicity, let's say it's Microsoft Outlook. If you have Windows, then you already have some version of Outlook installed.
- Configure Outlook to connect to your web-based email account. For the sake of the argument, let's say your email account is with Yahoo.
- Let Outlook sync with Yahoo, so that a copy of all your saved emails on Yahoo end up in Outlook.
- Export your emails in Outlook to some type of file (document, archive file, whatever).
Though even all of that is easier said than done. Here are some details you should know:
- Your web-based email service has to allow "POP" email access. The free version of Yahoo Mail doesn't let you do this. But I pay a little money for "Yahoo Mail Plus", which gives you this ability, along with other perks like bigger storage space, no advertisements in your sent emails, etc.
- Configuring Outlook to connect with Yahoo was easier than I thought, though it has to be done right. Yahoo gives instructions on how do this here, not just for Outlook but for a variety of other email programs too.
- When you make Outlook grab mail (select "Send/Receive" from the menu) it only copies what it sees in your Yahoo's "Inbox" folder.
Soooo....here's MY plan for the next day or two:
- Organize my Yahoo Inbox by emptying it. This is going to take a while. Every email that's in their now either has to go to some appropriate folder with similarly saved emails, or go into the trash. I've already cut it down from about 1300 emails to around 650.
- Move emails from one of my saved email folders in Yahoo, to the now empty Yahoo Inbox.
- Go over to Outlook and have it grab the emails from Yahoo. Remember, it only copies from Yahoo's Inbox.
- Save these emails in Outlook by moving them to a new Outlook folder or exporting them right away.
- Empty the Outlook Inbox
- Repeat all of the previous steps for each folder I have on Yahoo.
Yeah, I know. It's a clutter project that doesn't decrease physical volume. And it's not as photographically fun as something from my living room. I'm sure I've bored some of you. But it's still another long overdue "cleaning" project.