How to print all emails in .pst file to PDFs?
February 16, 2017 3:03 PM   Subscribe

I have tons and tons of emails that I want to export into PDFs. Each group of emails is stored into a .pst file. When you open the .pst in Outlook (in Windows), there are various subfolders -- inbox, sent, junk, etc. I would love it if there were a service or application that I could set loose on each .pst and end up with PDFs of each email with any attachments. Does such a thing exist? Bonus round: same question, but on a Mac and with regard to an .mbox file.
posted by starkraven to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
A product that does it ? No, you're probably out of luck. DIY ? Certainly.

If you can script any, you can probably do this yourself for outlook.

I have written code to parse and do "stuff" with mac .mbox'es via mime4j (java, so not scripting). Took maybe half a day to iron out the tricky bits, so it wasn't hard. (eg: what are the attachments ? Word docs ? and you want that converted into PDF ? )
posted by k5.user at 6:16 PM on February 16, 2017

Well what I'd do is get a PDF writer (which I assume you have), set it as the default printer on my machine, and then use Outlook's 'Quick Print' functionality (select the emails you want to print and then right-click) and do it in chunks that way. You'll have to go folder by folder, though, so I guess it's not exactly what you're looking for.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:30 PM on February 16, 2017

I would recommend Email Archiver

It works with Macs and will export all your emails as searchable PDFs, while maintaining the folder structure you have set up. It can be purchased for $40 in the Mac App store.
posted by cwarmy at 8:54 AM on February 17, 2017

I used to use Mailbag Assistant from Fookes software with a lot of success. It could "read" any mail database and show the emails as a list that could be exported in a variety of ways. It looks like it's now called Aid4Mail.
posted by see_change at 9:00 AM on February 17, 2017

There is a set of products that do this well. They're often unavailable to casual customers - legal teams use them for discovery. LAW Pre-Discovery is the one I worked with most; I know there are others.

I've worked with LAW; it's one of those software suites that doesn't even have a price-you contact the company and discuss feature sets and subscription fees. (LAW stands for "Legal AccessWare," and is the absolutely stupidest acronym for software I have ever heard; it's not only impossible to search for it, it's impossible to search for help pages or contact info.)

FoxPDF Email to PDF Converter is $30.

CubexSoft has PST to PDF software for $35; there's a free trial that'll do 20 emails. Doesn't work on Outlook 2016 yet.

SysTools PST Converter costs $50. This one has been around for a while and has some good comments on tech support websites.

PDF Converter Pro is also $50. Less clear how well it works for PSTs, but works for plenty of other filetypes as well.

Acrobat Pro may be able to do this on its own. (Haven't checked; haven't worked with PSTs since I stopped working for the company that processed them in batch for law firms.)

I recommend trying to trial versions before buying anything. I tried to find reliable software, but these kinds of limited-purpose programs sometimes have problems with system security settings, or a particular type of folder arrangement.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:39 AM on February 17, 2017

Followup note: One of the reasons this is tricky and involves specialized software, is because of filenames. You may have 20 emails named "Re: Jan Account Manager Meeting" in a chain; you can't have 20 PDFs named "Re:_Jan_Account_Manager_Meeting.pdf" in the same folder. And if the attachment is named "Schedule.xls," do you want that name to stay (moving it far away from the email), or be named "Re:_Jan_Account_Manager_Meeting_Schedule.xls.pdf"?

(Side side note: Batch converting Excel files to PDF is often a nightmare. The originals are rarely arranged with useful print settings.)

The expensive subscription programs have settings that let you customize the output - name by date or subject line (or more likely, by sequential numbers, with a side database containing all the metadata). The cheaper programs are likely to have a single naming convention and just put (2) and (3) at the end of duplicate titles.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:46 AM on February 17, 2017

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