How to Convert an MSG File Into a PDF

08 March 2021 by Ross ediscovery pst msg email Outlook

Takeaway: (1) If you have Outlook, save your MSG as a PDF from within the software. (2) If you don’t have Outlook, use a 3rd-party MSG-to-PDF converter. (3) If you want a secure conversion, use an eDiscovery application like GoldFynch.

If MSGs and PDFs both store text, how are they different?

MSGs (Outlook Mail Message files) have the ‘.msg’ file extension. And PDFs (Portable Document Format files) have the ‘.pdf’ extension. But there are more fundamental differences.

1. An MSG file is designed to store Microsoft Outlook emails.

Outlook stores emails and other ‘items’ (calendar appointments, contacts from your address book, etc.) as PSTs while they’re in the Outlook application. But as soon as you move an individual email or item out of Outlook and onto your computer, it gets converted to an MSG. But the data in this MSG isn’t just plain text. Rather, all the text is slotted into a behind-the-scenes database. For example, these are some of the database fields: The sender’s and ‘recipient’s names (for an email), contact information (for an address-book item), appointment details (for a calendar item), and so on. The beauty of the database is that it structures the data so it’s easier to search through later.

2. A PDF file is designed to be a printer-friendly, shareable document.

Adobe developed PDFs in the 90s to share documents between computers with different operating systems and software. For example, when you transfer a Microsoft Word document to another computer, the new Word software might have different settings that change your document’s layout. With PDFs, these changes in settings don’t matter because the PDF format is designed to keep your document exactly the same. But this advantage comes at a cost: Your text isn’t automatically in an easily searchable database, as it is with an MSG.

So, how do you convert an MSG to a PDF?

Because PDFs are more shareable, you’ll often want to convert an MSG into a PDF. These are your options, and the one you choose will depend on what software you have available.

Option 1: Convert MSGs to PDFs using Outlook

If you have access to Outlook, here are two ways you can convert your files.

  1. Use Outlook’s ‘Print to PDF’ option (for Windows 10): In the menu bar, go to ‘file’, then ‘print’ and choose ‘Microsoft Print to PDF’.
  2. Use Outlook and Microsoft Word together (for non-Windows 10 computers): If you don’t have Windows 10, there’s a workaround. Double-click your MSG file so it opens in Outlook, then go to ‘File’ and choose ‘Save As’. Here, choose the ‘HTML’ option. Now open your newly-created HTML file in Microsoft Word and save it as a PDF (go to ‘File’, then ‘Save As’, and choose ‘PDF’.

(Note: If your email has attachments, Outlook won’t include them in the PDF. To convert MSGs with their attachments, use option 2 below.)

Option 2: ‘Quick-convert’ MSGs to PDFs using a third-party application.

If you don’t have Outlook, Google can show you easy-to-use third-party converters. And with most of them, you’ll navigate to their page, upload your PDF and click the ‘convert’ button. Plus, you’ll be able to include both the email and its attachment in one consolidated PDF. Just make sure you research the vendor thoroughly if your MSGs have sensitive/private information.

Option 3: ‘Secure-convert’ MSGs to PDFs using eDiscovery software.

If you want to do anything beyond take a quick peek at an MSG’s contents, it’s worth using a more measured approach than choosing a random converter. And this is because of file metadata.

Third-party converters won’t protect your MSG’s ‘metadata’. But eDiscovery software will.

All MSGs have ‘metadata’ (i.e., a digital footprint) that gives you key information about the file. Metadata is part of the ‘database’ we discussed in the introduction to MSGs and includes things like when the MSG was created, who it was created by, when it was last opened, etc. Metadata can be very useful but gets destroyed easily. For example, you’ll change the ‘Last Opened’ metadata date when you open the MSG with a third-party app from step 2 above. Here’s where eDiscovery software helps. When you load MSGs into a reliable eDiscovery application, you can read and search their contents without changing metadata. And you can then convert them into a PDF by ‘producing’ the files. This is longer than step 2 above, but it’s worth the effort if you’re going to do anything more than skim an MSG’s contents.

How do you convert MSGs to PDFs using eDiscovery software?

Let’s use GoldFynch’s eDiscovery software as an example. Here are the steps:

  1. Drag-and-drop your MSGs into the GoldFynch browser. They’ll be automatically uploaded and processed without destroying metadata. (Note: You can upload any sort of file to review – not just MSGs)
  2. Review your files using GoldFynch’s advanced search engine. You can tag/annotate files and leave comments for your team, and redact sensitive information.
  3. Convert the files to PDFs by producing them.

If you’d like to explore eDiscovery, GoldFynch has other things going for it, too.

Our eDiscovery service is perfect for small- and midsize law firms and companies.

  • It costs just $27 a month for a 3 GB case: That’s significantly less than most comparable software. With GoldFynch, you know what you’re paying for exactly – its pricing is simple and readily available on the website.
  • It’s easy to budget for. GoldFynch charges only for storage (processing is free). So, choose from a range of plans (3 GB to 150+ GB) and know up front how much you’ll be paying. It takes just a few clicks to move from one plan to another, and billing is prorated – so you’ll pay only for the time you spend on any given plan. With legacy software, pricing is much less predictable.
  • It’s simple to use. Many eDiscovery applications take hours to master. GoldFynch takes minutes. It handles a lot of complex processing in the background, but what you see is minimal and intuitive. Just drag-and-drop your files into GoldFynch and you’re good to go. Plus, it’s designed, developed, and run by the same team. So you get prompt and reliable tech support.
  • It keeps you flexible. To build a defensible case, you need to be able to add and delete files freely. Many applications charge to process each file you upload, so you’ll be reluctant to let your case organically shrink and grow. And this stifles you. With GoldFynch, you get unlimited processing for free. So, on a 3 GB plan, you could add and delete 5 GB of data at no extra cost – as long as there’s only 3 GB in your case at any point. And if you do cross 3 GB, your plan upgrades automatically and you’ll be charged for only the time spent on each plan. That’s the beauty of prorated pricing.
  • Access it from anywhere. And 24/7. All your files are backed up and secure in the Cloud.

Want to learn more about GoldFynch?