Review messages exported with Vault

After you extract the zip file for a Gmail or Chat export, the way you can review the messages depends on the type of file:

  • PST—Microsoft Outlook or some litigation support systems.
  • mbox—Mozilla Thunderbird, a text editor, or some litigation support systems that include email conversion tools for mbox files.

Note: Google does not provide technical support for third-party products. GOOGLE ACCEPTS NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR THIRD-PARTY PRODUCTS. Consult the product’s website for the latest configuration and support information.

Review messages in an email client

You can review Gmail and Chat messages in Microsoft Outlook (PST) or Mozilla Thunderbird(mbox). This method is useful for viewing HTML messages and attachments that a text editor can't display.

PST and mbox files contain the details of the exported messages. The metadata file reflects the message metadata as recorded by Google. You can correlate mbox content and message metadata to provide a link between the messages stored on Google servers and the data you export from Vault.

Note: The labels used in Gmail to classify messages aren't converted into mailbox folders. When you open a PST or mbox file in an email client, all messages appear in a single folder.

To review exported messages in an email client:

  1. Import and review messages in your email application.
  2. For messages that are important to the matter, view the headers:
    • Outlook—Review the Microsoft documentation about how to view message headers for your version.
    • Thunderbird—Click View > Headers > All to display the headers for each message:
  3. In Thunderbird, each header includes a Message ID. To correlate messages with the data stored on Google's servers, compare Message IDs with metadata file.

Review mbox files in a text editor

An mbox file is a standard format for storing messages. It contains all the details for the exported messages, including message text and any attachments. The metadata file reflects the message metadata as recorded by Google. Together these files provide a link between the messages stored on Google servers and the data you’ve exported from Vault.

After you export, you use the message parameters from the metadata file to identify corresponding messages in the mbox file. To get started, open the metadata file in a text editor and find for the FileName parameter for a message. For example:

<ExternalFile FileName='1463030154355209614-d7f2c19a-73f3-40e4-a17a-130b90c37aac.mbox'

This parameter includes a unique identifier that corresponds to a similar entry in the mbox file, the From_ line. The From_ line contains the same identifier, along with the date and time (in UTC) that the message was received by Google. For example:

From 1463030154355209614-d7f2c19a-73f3-40e4-a17a-130b90c37aac.mbox@xxx Wed Mar 19 06:38:02 2014

The From_ line is the first entry for each message included in the mbox file. When you get to a new From_ line, you're looking at a different message.

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