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Saving Emails to Disk

Friday, October 29th, 2010 by | Filed Under: E-Mail Help, File & Disk Management, Uncategorized, Windows Explorer

Wim, from California asks:

How do I save an e-mail from MSN to an external hard disk or CD?

E-mail. Can you imagine a world without it? Even for those of us who grew up in the dark ages of handwritten letters sent via regular mail, trying to remember a time without a cluttered inbox, ever increasing spam folder, and gobs of messages marked for deletion, is an increasingly difficult memory to retain. What you are more likely to remember is the day you mistakenly decided to clean out your inbox, taking it from overflowing to empty in two clicks of your mouse; only to realize you had just purged your child’s quarterly report card, the day and time you were supposed to finally meet up with that special someone for a cup of coffee, or that ever important power point presentation the Board of Directors are scheduled to view in the morning! While MSN’s Hotmail e-mail service can theoretically hold your messages forever, they can’t stop you from mistakenly deleting important e-mails which, once deleted, provide virtually no chance of recovery. That’s why it’s always good to have a backup plan; in this case a plan of how you will backup your MSN/Hotmail/Live e-mails to something (hopefully) less prone to accidental deletion: such as a USB flash/thumb drive, an external hard drive, or a CD or DVD disc.

So how do we begin to backup our e-mail? Let’s start from the very beginning:

(Note: This method assumes you have the Microsoft XML Paper Specification Essentials Pack installed. All versions of Windows 7 and some newer versions of Windows Vista have this Pack installed by default. If you have Windows XP or an older version of Vista, you can download what you need here. Just follow the on-page instructions to download and install the latest version of the Microsoft XML Paper Specification Essentials Pack before moving on to Step 1.

Step 1. Open your web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, etc.) and go to the MSN homepage.


Step 2. Click the Sign in link in the upper right corner of the page.


Step 3. You will be sent to the MSN sign in / sign up page. Enter your MSN e-mail address under Windows Live ID and your password in the Password box. Afterward, Click the Sign In button. You will be taken back to your MSN homepage.


Step 4. Look in the upper left corner for the Hotmail link. If you have any new messages in your inbox, the amount will be shown in parenthesis “()”
Click the Hotmail link to be taken to your e-mail home screen.


Step 5. In your e-mail home screen, click Go to inbox to be taken to your inbox.


Step 6. Find the e-mail you would like to save and click on it to open.


Step 7. Once your e-mail is displayed, click on the small printer icon in the menu above your e-mails’ title.


Step 8. The Print dialog will appear. Under Printer click the Name: drop down list and select Microsoft XPS Document Writer

(This will let you save your e-mail in a .xps file. Once saved, you will be able to view, copy text from, and print out your e-mail from this file at any time)


Step 9. Click OK and wait for the Save XPS dialog to appear.



Step 10. In the Save XPS dialog box, navigate to the folder on your C: drive where you would like to temporarily store your saved e-mails until you transfer them to your external drive or CD/DVD. Name your file, and click Save.


(If you do not yet have a temporary folder on your C: drive, simply right click in the white space in the save XPS dialog, select New > then Folder, name the folder that appears, and save your XPS file(s) in there.)


Step 10-1. Once saved, you will be taken back to the e-mail you just saved. If your e-mail has any attachments (images, zip files, pdfs, .doc files, etc.) they will be shown just above the body (text) of your message. Click the Download link underneath the file you would like to save, and save it to the same folder as your XPS file(s).




Step 11. Repeat steps 6 through 10 until all your important e-mails are saved as XPS files in your temporary folder on your C: drive.

Step 12. You are now ready to save your e-mails to an external hard drive, USB flash drive, or burn your e-mails to a CD or DVD.

First we’ll discuss saving to an external drive:

Step 13. Open the folder where your e-mails are stored, then go into your My Computer drive listing, and find the folder you wish to backup your e-mails to on your external drive.


Step 13-1. In the folder containing your saved e-mails, press the Ctrl key and A at the same time (ctrl+A) to select all the saved e-mails (.xps files) in the folder.


Step 13-2. Place your mouse over any of the selected files, hold down the left click button on your mouse and drag the files over to your e-mail backup folder on your external drive. Wait a few moments for your files to transfer, and you’re done! Now give yourself a pat on the back!


Step 14. If you prefer to burn your saved e-mails to a CD or DVD disc, there are a variety of ways to do so depending on what CD/DVD burning program(s) you have installed on your computer, and what version of Windows you are running. For more information on burning your e-mails, or virtually any type of file to CD or DVD, see these Worldstart Tips:

How to Burn a CD

Burning CDs and DVDs

CD Burning 101

XP CD Burning Software

Final tip: Regardless of your back up medium, be it external drive or optical disc, have a backup of your backup (a second external drive or set of discs with your saved e-mails duplicated on them, even a hard copy print out of your e-mails) just in case your first backup fails for whatever reason.

– J. Conboy

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