Can I Download Every Attachment From Gmail?

Dear Lifehacker,
Over the years, I've accumulated lots of images/junk in attachments throughout my email. What I'm looking for is a way to download ALL Gmail attachments in one fell swoop.

Sincerely,
Gmail is Great

Dear Gmail is Great,
There may be several ways you can accomplish this, here's what we like: You can easily download every attachment in one fell swoop using a combination of Gmail's IMAP capability, Mozilla Thunderbird, and the AttachmentExtractor extension for Thunderbird. We'll take you through the steps, which might take a little while but will end up with a local folder full of attachments.

  1. Use our guide to turning Thunderbird into the Ultimate Gmail IMAP client to setup local access to all of your email. Make sure to fully sync all folders, including your All Mail folder.
  2. Install the AttachmentExtractor extension by going to Tools \ Addons and dragging in the downloaded file.
  3. Sort the All Mail folder by the attachment icon, and then select all the email that has attachments. Right-click and choose "Extract Selected Attachments to..." from the menu, and pick a folder to save your attachments.
  4. Wait, for probably a very long while, for all the attachments to download.
  5. All done!

This technique should work for any email account that works in Thunderbird, so you aren't limited to Gmail.

Love and Geekery,
Lifehacker


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