How can I download Yahoo email for archiving?
November 30, 2020 6:52 AM   Subscribe

Is there a way to download mail from Yahoo into pdf format? I have many messages that I would like to save, so I need a way to do this in bulk.

I don’t use yahoo email anymore, but I used to, and I have lots of messages from friends and family I would like to preserve. Ideally, there is a tool out there that I can use to download each message as a separate pdf into a directory on my Mac. I can take it from there.

Googling gives me a number of sites advertising software that does this. The descriptions seem to be in uniformly bad English, and there is no way I’d trust them.

I only need to do this one time. I’d rather not pay, but I will for something I can trust.

posted by AMyNameIs to Technology (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Directly, no.

Indirectly, yes. You will need to configure a desktop mail program like Outlook (but many others will too) as a client for your Yahoo account. You can find instructions to do this at; agree that the third-party "how to" sites are mainly trying to sell you highly suspect solutions.

Once that client has fully synced your mail, select all, hit Print, and choose PDF output as your printer option.
posted by MattD at 7:30 AM on November 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

I do this for clients using Email Archiver Pro; it costs $40 but it works extremely quickly and cleanly. This is especially handy if you already have the email account loaded in, since it reads from that database.

If you don't have your email loaded in and/or you don't want to purchase something, the best free way to do this is with Thunderbird, which is a free third-party email program made by the Firefox folks. Its popularity has waned in recent years but it has a good set of add-ons for managing mailboxes, like ImportExportTools.

The basic steps would be to install Thunderbird, log it into your Yahoo mail, let the mail download (which might take a while), install ImportExportTools, then run the add-on. It has a million esoteric settings but you can just step through them to get to the ones for individual PDFs. You might want to especially double check that you've set it to handle attachments, if there are photos or whatnot that you want to make sure to preserve.
posted by bcwinters at 8:32 AM on November 30, 2020

Alternatively, you can set up both Yahoo and your current e-mail as IMAP accounts in a desktop mail program, and just copy the messages you want to keep from Yahoo to your current provider.
Otherwise, yeah, Thunderbird + ImportExportTools.
posted by farlukar at 8:36 AM on November 30, 2020

I installed Thunderbird, ran ImportExportTools, and it wouldn't export as PDF. Looking closely at the documentation, I found this: PDF output is not supported on OSX due to a driver issue.

Instead, I'm downloading as HTML with attachments. Not perfect, but at least I have all the email.

posted by AMyNameIs at 9:23 AM on November 30, 2020

I have been using Mailstore free version for yahoo, can recommend it
posted by canoehead at 9:54 AM on November 30, 2020

PDF output is not supported on OSX due to a driver issue.

Oh yikes, sorry about that. It definitely worked fine not that long ago—I know the add-on was forked a while back so maybe there is an alternate add-on that can handle it. Although if HTML will suffice (it's text, it's searchable, it's future-proof) then maybe it doesn't matter?
posted by bcwinters at 2:57 PM on November 30, 2020

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