Google Takeout Forensics: The Art of Investigation [Explained]

google takeout forensics
Published By Mohit
Anuraag Singh
Approved By Anuraag Singh
Published On September 13th, 2023
Reading Time 6 Minutes Reading
Category Forensics

When forensic experts are tasked with Google Takeout forensics or Gmail Email Forensics analysis, they often use a Google export utility known as Google Takeout. Google offers this tool which allows you to download data from various Google services. This includes Gmail, Google Drive, Google Calendar, and more.

They use this utility because it offers a simple and direct solution for collecting email data from Gmail accounts. 

If you want to know more about the forensic investigation of Google Takeout files and one advanced solution to examine any email-related concerns. Follow this guide till the end. 

Brief Introduction of Google Takeout?

Google Takeout Forensics is a user-friendly tool provided by Google. This is free for anyone who has a Google account. This allows individuals to export their data. It offers a simple process of selecting the data that you want to download and export to a compressed file format. Data exported through Google Takeout includes emails, contacts, Google Drive files, Google Maps, etc.

The emails are exported in the MBOX file format. The contents of each message are preceded by a header section that contains information such as date, subject, recipient, and sender. The body of the message follows the header section and contains the actual text of the message. 

However, while performing Google Takeout forensics one of the significant drawbacks is the limited customization while examining the evidence in email forensics. This limitation becomes evident in email forensics. Therefore, let us understand this weakness by the screenshot mentioned below. 

1. Google Takeout only allows MBOX output. 

google takeout allows mbox

  • The only option to limit the data set is by making use of Gmail’s built-in labels.
  • It also offers limited options for filtering emails before exporting. 
  • The only option is to restrict the number of emails and reduce the export file size. This is done by deselecting email labels and folders like Drafts, Promotion, Social, etc. (See figure below)

mail content option

What Do You Mean by Google Takeout Forensics?

In terms of forensics, it refers to the process of analyzing the data exported from a Google account using the Google Takeout Service for investigative purposes. 

Google takeout forensics

Google Takeout forensics allows you to download data from various Google-provided services. Forensics in this context refers to the forensic examination and analysis of the exported backup data to gather evidence or investigate specific events.

While doing a forensic investigation of Google Takeout, a forensic analyst may involve the identification of user’s activities, timestamps, deleted content, connection logs, search history, email communications, and other relevant data. 

Forensic analysis of Google Takeout data can be used in legal investigations, digital forensics, or personal data retrieval. The goal is to extract the relevant information. And, afterthat present it in a way that is beneficial in understanding the cases or activities related to the Google account. 

Also read Message-ID forensics: Make Analysis Easy With Message-ID Analyzer

So, should I prefer Google Takeout files in forensic Investigation? 

My answer would be yes. It is so because Google cares for your data. It offers a unique specialized method to achieve the entire database (including every account which is associated with the Gmail account)

But if I need to export all the data including email messages and attachments. I have to look for another advanced Email Examiner software- MailXaminer

From a computer forensic examiner’s point of view, this specialized email forensic software is available that extracts data, and serves different purposes and diverge features in Google Takeout forensics

With a clear vision, it is clear that Google Takeout is good for use but if you need a smart solution with extra advanced features you need to look for a professional solution that can easily examine all the evidence. 

Reasons Why You Should Choose Professional Utility

Following are a few things that you should consider when you are doing a forensic investigation and you might face complexities after taking backup from Google Takeout.

1. Preservation of Essential Files.   

When you’re working as a forensic investigator, you need to prepare and gather all types of details required for investigation.

Google Takeout exporting mailbox provides you with two options

  • MBOX file that contains email data
  • The HTML file has basic descriptions of that data. 

You can scan the MBOX file to obtain evidence because it contains information from every email. For a thorough email forensics analysis, you require additional information. 

Hence, as an investigator, it is your responsibility not to miss any kind of sensitive information while exporting the data, and for that taking the help of an expert’s solution will be beneficial.

2. Flexible Enough to Export Large Mailbox

Google Takeout typically works most of the time seamlessly when you need to export small mailboxes. You can encounter some difficulties while attempting to export a huge mailbox containing thousands of emails. 

One more thing you need to know in Google Takeout, when the exporting data is in process, there is no indicator of progress available while doing Google Takeout forensics. So, you won’t know what is happening after you have initiated the export process.

3. Advanced Export Options to Save Your Data in any Desired Format. 

As we already know Google Takeout exports all emails in a single MBOX file. It creates a separate file for each like drafts and inbox. It does not create a separate folder that highlights the Gmail label. Therefore, it can be difficult to search for a particular file. 

A well-synchronized exported file folder will definitely save your crucial time while doing Google Takeout forensics. The professional method will give you an advanced solution when you are required to export the files according to your necessities. You will get multiple export options. (Prefer the image below)

different export options

After discussing all these essential points it is quite obvious that using this Email Forensic Software will help you in the forensic examination of Google Takeout files. Therefore, it is highly recommended to use dedicated email investigation software.

email examination software

This Software comes with advanced functionality for digital forensic experts. This software has an inbuilt feature that can give you more control over mailbox filtering, advanced OCR facilities, advanced link- analysis, and instant keyword search options. These proficient functionalities play a drastic role in the field of Google Takeout forensics


Google Takeout can come in handy when you are performing a forensic examination of Google Takeout files. However, a professional solution offers a more advanced level of control and extensive logging. So, choose wisely and perform the forensic investigation effectively.   

If you want to know more about the software and the working of the software you can Contact our team.


By Mohit

He has over 4 years of experience as a professional content writer. He is a tech enthusiast who specializes in explaining complicated technical concepts.