Launch a web browser and go to the Google Takout page. When the page loads, it will display a sign-in screen like this one – so fill in the Email and Password boxes and press Enter, or click the blue Sign in button. Note that even if you are already signed in to a Google account, Google Takeout may request you to log in once more, as a security measure.
Once logged in, the main Google Takeout page displays a list of products and services that you use above a large red button labelled ‘Create Archive’. While it is possible to click Create Archive without any further action, it’s easy to tailor the data that will be collated so you can download only what you want. Above the product/service list are three buttons: ‘All of your data’, ‘Choose services’ and ‘Downloads’. Click Choose services to see a list of services and options. Click the button for each service to add it to the download list. As you do, Takeout will add ‘tiles’ to a summary page. Each tile includes the number of files (along with their combined size) that will be downloaded. To remove a service, click the small grey cross at the top-right of its tile.
It’s possible to refine how the information for each service is archived. Below each service is a ‘Configure...’ link – click this to view the different archiving options. Contacts, for example, can be archived as a PDF, CSV, HTML or vCard file. Similarly, files stored in Google Docs can be archived as Microsoft Word documents (.doc), PDFs or as plain text. Make your selections and click the Create Archive button.
Depending on the amount of data, it may take several minutes to generate the archive – a Download button will appear when it is complete. Click the Download button and, if asked to log in (again), type in your credentials and press Enter. The download will commence and, as usual, if the File Download Security Warning dialogue box appears, click Save and choose a location for the downloaded file. Firefox users should select Save File to save the download to Firefox’s default download folder.
The Google Takeout archive is supplied as a compressed ZIP file. The contents of ZIP files can be expanded easily in Windows (from XP onwards): right-click the file and choose Extract All from the pop-up menu. Now follow the Extraction Wizard’s prompts to extract the downloaded ZIP file. It will be placed in a folder on the Windows Desktop, with a name such as ‘youremail_gmail.com-takeout’.
To see what Takeout has downloaded, double-click to open and explore this folder. It will contain subfolders for each service, such as Google+, Contacts, Docs and Picasa. Depending on how the data was archived it can be accessed in different ways. Google Docs files, for instance, can be opened in the likes of Microsoft Office, while posts made to Google+ will be available as HTML files that can be viewed in any web browser.