OS X MailThere are lots of ways to archive old emails from OSX’s Mail application for later reading. Many of them require you to work with another piece of software, some require you to “restore” an .mbox file to the proper folder – and almost all of them require you to launch Mail in order to actually read the archived email. While most archiving apps offer plenty of flexibility, they can be more trouble than they’re worth if your needs are simple, and you don’t have the budget for 3rd party apps. If you’re looking for something a little easier with less bells and whistles, I’ve got a quick solution for you.

Here’s a really simple way to archive old emails:

  1. Select any and all emails you want to archive in the mail source column (hold down the Shift or Command key to select more than one email)
  2. Hit Command + C to copy them
  3. Open TextEdit from your Applications folder & create a new document – make sure it’s a Rich Text document if you wish to include any images in the original emails
  4. Hit Command + V to paste them into the document

What you’re left with is one giant text file with all your chosen emails contained in it, which you can save anywhere. Now here are some important notes about this method:

  • This text file is (obviously) searcheable
  • You can add notes to the file whenever, wherever and however you want
  • It’s a text file, you’ll never need to pay for another app to read them
  • There’s no installation of anything, and you can use any text-reading app to view the file
  • The text of your emails includes basic header information
  • Basic images & files are included

This method can be particularly useful if you wish to archive emails from a particular person. You can save emails for each person in their own text file, making it easier to find later.