How to download all your Google files at once

If you're like most mobile professionals, you've migrated your work life (at least in part) to the cloud. Google Docs, for example, is a convenient, lightweight suite of office apps that you can use anywhere you have access to the Internet.

But a lot of people complain that their Google Docs files are sort of held hostage online. Here's a fast and easy way to spring your files loose by downloading them all at once for whatever reason you want, no matter whether it's to back them up or even migrate them all to another tool.

The solution, it turns out, comes directly from Google. Google Takeout is a new service that zips up all the files and posts them online for easy download.

To use the site, go to Google Takeout and choose whether you want everything -- which includes all of your data from Google Docs, Buzz, Picasa, Google Voice, and more -- or if you want to choose a specific service. When you click Create Archive, you'll be taken to a page where you can watch your files get compressed into a zip file and, when it's done, click download to bring all the files home to your PC. The archive is also maintained on the Google Takeout site for a week, so you can go back and download it again later.

Google Takeout is a little-known but important tool for making sure you have total control over the files you store online.

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