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Gmail discovery/file closing issues

I am hoping the tech savvy lawyerist community might have a solution to this issue.

I use gmail to manage my practice emails. It is great expect for the fact that there does not seem to be any way to bulk save as pdf or bulk print to pdf for multiple issues.

Right now I need to produce emails for discovery. All of my matters have a gmail label. I can take individual emails and print/save to pdf but I cannot save an entire label as a pdf or portfolio. Luckily there are not too many emails to grab for this discovery project, but what would I do if there were?

This brings me to the file closing issue. Right now I have a label called closed with closed matter labels nested under it. I am quickly running out of the 30 gigs that my current google apps for business provides. I do not need immediate gmail access to them. I want to save them as pdf and delete them from the google account. But how do you do that?

I looked over a number of solutions. There are some extensions that will run a script periodically that saves any emails in defined labels as pdfs but that sounds like a poor solution for me. I do not need a constant back up, which is what this seems more geared towards providing. The other option I have found in the google account admin system allows for you to save a .mbox archive of any label you choose. It is not an easy process to follow. It seems like this process is intended for people trying to migrate data to a different account. Once I got the .mbox file I tried to find a converter that would change it to pdf. I tried the top rated app on cnet but couldn't get it to work.

The less than elegant solution I have found is to start using Outlook again. The gmail account is linked to Outlook through imap; the gmail labels appear in outlook as folders. In outlook if you have acrobat installed and the add-in enabled you can select a folder, right click, and save as a pdf. What you get is a pdf portfolio. (You can also select all of the emails in a folder and print to pdf but this does not capture attachments).

Pdf portfolios are like containers for pdfs. It is a nice clean way to look at multiple pdfs at once. It even captures all of your attachments. However there are big drawbacks. Do you want to bates stamp all of the pages in that portfolio or sanitize the document before leaking meta data? The only way to do so is to open the individual pdf files in that pdf portfolio container. The normal tools for pdfs are not available to work on everything in the portfolio (at least not in Acrobat Pro XI, maybe the DC version can do this but I don't think so). This is fine for a back up copy or as part of a closed file DVD to give to a client but I don't want to provide the portfolio in discovery.

Can you convert a pdf portfolio including the attachments to a single pdf? I am not sure I am trying out something called Joel's practical pdf portfolio utility. Hopefully it works.

I wanted to share my experience in the hopes that someone else out there has found a better way to do this. These seem like very practical goals and a very common issue for any attorneys that use gmail.



  • samgloversamglover Minneapolis, MN Admin
    edited September 2016

    @GregClaessens said:
    The less than elegant solution I have found is to start using Outlook again.

    This is the best way to do it. If you don't want a PDF portfolio, just print to PDF instead of using the right click > Save as PDF option. You'll get one big PDF, and you can Bates stamp it, redact it, etc.

  • I might be doing something wrong but I am still not getting what I was hoping for...

    With the portfolio open you can print the entire portfolio. Selecting print will ask you if you just want to print the file you are currently looking at or all of the files in the portfolio. I had to select all files twice. First in a small popup window unique to portfolio printing, and then again in the typical print preview/set up window. Even after selecting print all in the popup, my print preview screen option defaults to selected document not all.

    If you get past that you can select print to pdf from the list of printers. But this does not create one pdf it creates a pdf for each email and it does not include attachments.

    I did find a workaround. Go to whatever folder contains the portfolio. Right click the portfolio and select "combine files in acrobat". It will notify you with a window that the file selected contains multiple files and that they have been added to the list for files to combine.

    This gets you one pdf not a portfolio. It even brings the attachments but you cannot click on what still looks like a link in a particular email. On the right hand side there is a paperclip icon this is where all of the attachments from the emails will be in the new single pdf. This post http://blogs.adobe.com/acrolaw/2010/05/extracting-and-printing-attachments-from-email-portfolios/ explains it very well.

    As a final note, I experimented with the removing hidden information tools. If you remove hidden data from the pdf be careful not to remove attachments and note that removing metadata from the pdf does not remove metadata from the attachments.

    Hopefully, if anyone else needs to do this maybe they will find these posts and save a little time.

  • samgloversamglover Minneapolis, MN Admin

    Print to PDF from Outlook, not from Acrobat.

  • I tried that and I wasn't getting any of the attachments.

    There might be a difference with the actual "print to pdf" printers that we have available. A lot of programs will add their own print to file options. I have something called ABS PDF Driver v400, Adobe PDF, and Microsoft Print to PDF. I tried every one of them and none of them included the email attachments and this was printing from Acrobat or Outlook.

    The only process that has yielded a single pdf with the attachments is 1 Outlook convert to pdf (creates the portfolio), 2 right click the portfolio file and select combine files in acrobat.

  • samgloversamglover Minneapolis, MN Admin

    No, you're right. Printing to PDF won't include the attachments.

  • CGLoweNCCGLoweNC Hillsborough, NC

    Would a print service plug-in combined with an email program that groups together emails within the same conversation perhaps work? I use a Brother print service plug-in that allows me to print to PDF, even from Gmail. I don't care for Gmail, so I use Outlook in BlueMail.

  • samgloversamglover Minneapolis, MN Admin

    @CGLoweNC: You can do that, but it won't include attachments. You'll probably just get a little icon that shows there was an attachment on the message, but not the attachment itself.

  • Does Apple Mail allow you do to what you want? I'm playing with it now to see. I hate the idea of having to "delete" anything from GMAIL just because you PDF it.

  • samgloversamglover Minneapolis, MN Admin

    @AJRichman said:
    I hate the idea of having to "delete" anything from GMAIL just because you PDF it.

    You've lost me. Why would converting emails to PDF mean you have to delete them from Gmail?

  • I think the user above says> @GregClaessens said:

    This brings me to the file closing issue. Right now I have a label called closed with closed matter labels nested under it. I am quickly running out of the 30 gigs that my current google apps for business provides. I do not need immediate gmail access to them. I want to save them as pdf and delete them from the google account. But how do you do that?


  • samgloversamglover Minneapolis, MN Admin

    First, you should have a document destruction policy that includes email. Saving things forever is not a good policy. I recommend three years for email, which you can set to happen automatically in G Suite (f/k/a Google for Work, f/k/a Google Apps for Business).

    But you should archive emails with your client files. You should already have downloaded the attachments to the file, so simply printing to PDF should be enough. You don't need multiple copies. For cases that may go on for more than three years, archive annually. You can also drag and drop the emails from most email apps to a folder to save them in a variety of email formats.

    If none of that is enough to get your email account down to size, you might as well upgrade your storage with Google. It's pretty cheap. 100GB is just $2/month. 1TB is just $10/month.

  • MJ_PettengillMJ_Pettengill Milwaukee, WI

    Why not use the Google TAKEOUT feature?

    Exporting all messages with the same label :
    You can use **Google Takeout **to download an archive of only messages assigned specific labels.
    1. Go to http://www.google.com/takeout and sign in using the Google account associated with the mailbox to be exported.
    2. Click “Create an archive.”
    3. Uncheck all products except “Mail.”
    4. Click the dropdown icon to the left of “Mail” or click “Edit” to the right of “Mail.”
    5. Click the bubble next to “Select labels,” then checkmark the labels you wish to export.
    6. Click “Done.”
    7. Click “CREATE ARCHIVE.” Once your request is submitted, you can feel free to log out and close the window. The archive creation process may take a few minutes or several hours depending on how much data is in your mailbox.
    8. After the archive is finished, you will receive an email with a link to download an MBox compressed file containing your mail archive.

    Make sure you note the location to which you download the MBox compressed file. Once you have that, you may want to purchase a utility like MBox Viewer Pro to convert the MBox file to a .PST or other format. It works very well; just did it for a case last week.
    MJ Pettengill

  • MJ_PettengillMJ_Pettengill Milwaukee, WI

    Now addressing your other question about PDF Portfolios ...
    Once you have all the emails contained within a Portfolio, look at the list of email (a ruled, lined list) at the top of the screen. Right click on all the emails and chose SELECT ALL. Then right click on the selected emails and chose EXTRACT FROM PORTFOLIO. Direct the extracted files to a new folder on your computer or desktop -- and it will save them all there as individual PDFs. Hope that helps.
    -MJ Pettengill

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