You have a Gmail account but want to switch to another one. Most people do this when they want to set up a “business” Gmail account or simply because they found an Gmail e-mail name they like better.

You could enable POP on the old account and retrieve the mail in the new Gmail account that way, but then the timestamps get all reset to “new” and the Sent Mail gets all screwed up.

Is there a way to migrate from one Gmail account to another while retaining all proper timestamps and Sent Mail?

Yes there is and this article will explain exactly how to do it.

[hidepost=1]

Method 1 – The POP way

This is the “quick and dirty” method of migrating mail from one Gmail account to another.

I do not recommend migrating Gmail e-mail this way. You should only do this if time is short and you need to migrate very quickly.

Reasons this method is “bad”:

  1. Gmail, as you’re well aware, doesn’t use folders. It uses what they call “labels” instead. This means that on download, all mail including the Sent Mail will be downloaded directly to your inbox – and you CANNOT move messages you sent prior into the Sent Mail label. This will make the inbox in the new Gmail account A COMPLETE MESS. The only thing you can possibly do is set up a filter and put a custom label on all the e-mails you sent. If what you read confuses you, trust me, you’ll know it when you see it – and it sucks.
  2. All timestamps will be reset as “today”. This makes for managing mail a nightmare. You want to keep those timestamps verbatim and you can’t do that with POP because all downloads are today-stamped.

I will state again – I highly recommend not migrating mail this way, but if you must, this is how it’s done:

  1. In the OLD account, click Settings then Forwarding and POP/IMAP.
  2. In the OLD account, tick the option for Forward a copy of incoming mail to and enter in your NEW Gmail e-mail address that you registered.
  3. In the OLD account, next to where you typed in your new e-mail address, click the drop-down menu and select delete Gmail’s copy. (This is so no mail is kept in the old account and delivered direct to the new one.)
  4. In the OLD account, tick the option for Enable POP for all mail.
  5. In the OLD account, next to When messages are accessed with POP click the drop-down menu and select delete Gmail’s copy. (You do this so mail retrieved is completely moved to the new account and out of the old one.)
  6. In the OLD account, click Save Changes.
  7. In the OLD account, click Sign out (top right of screen).
  8. Login to the NEW account.
  9. In the NEW account, click Settings (top right of screen).
  10. In the NEW account, click the Accounts tab.
  11. In the NEW account, next to Get mail from other accounts, click Add another mail account.
  12. In the NEW account, a pop-up window will appear asking for the e-mail address. Enter in the e-mail address of your OLD account, then click the Next Step button.
  13. In the NEW account, on the next screen enter your OLD Gmail username and password.
  14. In the NEW account, — OPTIONAL — check the box for Label incoming messages. From the drop-down menu next to that, you can either label the incoming e-mails from the OLD account as the e-mail address itself OR click the drop-down and set a custom label.
  15. In the NEW account, click the Add Account button.
  16. In the NEW account, on the next screen you will be asked if you want to be able to send mail using the OLD e-mail address as a sending address. The default option is Yes. I would keep it as such and click the Next Step button.
  17. In the NEW account, on the next screen you will be asked what name you would like to use for send-outs using the old Gmail account. Enter whatever name you wish, then click the Next Step button.
  18. In the NEW account, on the next screen you will be required to verify that you own the e-mail address. Click the Send Verification button.
  19. In the NEW account, close the pop-up window.
  20. In the NEW account, click Inbox (left sidebar) to check your e-mail. You should receive an e-mail from “Gmail Team” with a subject line containing “Gmail Confirmation”. Open this e-mail.
  21. In the NEW account, once you open this e-mail you will see a link that you need to click for verification. Do it.
  22. In the NEW account, a separate window will open with “Confirmation Success!” This part is done.
  23. You’re done.

What will happen from here:

If you have many e-mails in your old Gmail account (which you most likely do), Gmail will not download them all at once. It will happen in “waves”. The system will usually download 50 to 200 e-mails at a time, wait, then download 50 to 200 more. The system will continue to do this until the old account has no more mail in it.

Since you’ve already set up the forwarding in the old account, any new mails received will be delivered direct to your NEW Gmail account inbox.

Method 2: The IMAP way

This is the recommended way you migrate one Gmail account to another. All timestamps are kept and you can drag/drop mails into specific labels.

For the migration to take place using the IMAP way we must use an e-mail client that supports IMAP e-mail accounts. You can use Outlook Express, Windows Mail, Windows Live Mail, Apple Mail, Mozilla Thunderbird or any other number of e-mail clients that support the IMAP protocol.

For this tutorial we’ll be using Mozilla Thunderbird. Being that it runs on Windows, Mac or Linux it’s the best choice.

  1. Follow steps 1 thru 5 using the POP method above, then come back here.
  2. In the OLD account, next to IMAP Access, tick the option Enable IMAP.
  3. In the OLD account, click the Save Changes button.
  4. In the OLD account, click Sign out (top right of screen).
  5. Login to the NEW account.
  6. In the NEW account, click Settings (top right of screen).
  7. In the NEW account, next to IMAP Access, tick the option Enable IMAP.
  8. In the NEW account, click the Save Changes button.
  9. In THUNDERBIRD, set up both the OLD and the NEW Gmail e-mail accounts in Mozilla Thunderbird. Follow the detailed directions here on how to do this. IMPORTANT NOTE: Skip step 10 on those directions (must be skipped to see any/all labels as “folders” in Thunderbird while accessing Gmail via IMAP).
  10. In THUNDERBIRD, if all goes well you should have your two Gmail accounts next to each other. It looks like this (click for full-size image):
    image
  11. In THUNDERBIRD, it is suggested (although not required) that you sort your mail by Size. You can do this by clicking the Size column where your mails are listed. Next to the word Size a down-arrow will appear indicating it’s sorting from smallest-to-largest, top-to-bottom. If you do not see the Size column, click the small icon to the far right of your message list and select Size.It looks like this:

    image

    The button (in case you’re confused by the above what to click) is this one to get this menu:

    image

    It looks like “FR” and it’s very small, but that’s the one you want to get the menu so you can enable the Size column. Compare the above image to the one before that and note the location of this button as you may need to use it again in the future to enable other columns easily.

  12. In THUNDERBIRD, it’s time to move some mail. Start with the inbox. Highlight 25 to 50 e-mails from the OLD account and drag/drop them to the NEW account. Why only 25 to 50? This is to avoid mail server time-outs. Do this until your OLD inbox is empty.
  13. In THUNDERBIRD, when finished with the inbox it’s time to move over the Sent Mail. ONLY USE “Sent Mail” UNDER [Gmail] AND NOWHERE ELSE.Example:

    image

    Note that BOTH “Sent Mail” folders are UNDER [Gmail] for each respective account and nowhere else. You absolutely DO NOT want to use “Sent” under “Local Folders” or anywhere else because those ARE NOT GMAIL SPECIFIC.

    When moving sent mail, ONLY use the folders under [Gmail] from one account to the other.

    Sort your Sent Mail by size and move the mail to the NEW Gmail account’s “Sent Mail” folder using 25 to 50 mails at a time (just like you did with the inbox).

    Move all your Sent Mail until the OLD account’s “Sent Mail” folder is empty.

  14. In THUNDERBIRD, you will notice that your labels show up as folders in the OLD Gmail account but not the new one, so we will need to create this. THIS CANNOT BE DONE FROM THUNDERBIRD DIRECTLY. Close Thunderbird at this point and follow the next step.
  15. In your NEW account (as in launch a browser and login to your new Gmail e-mail account), create the same labels you had in the old account. If you have many labels, bear in mind you can open up both Gmail e-mail accounts in two separate browser windows so you have a reference and don’t have to do everything from memory.
  16. In the NEW account, when all your labels are successfully recreated, sign out and close the browser.
  17. Launch Thunderbird again.
  18. You will notice on launch that Thunderbird will “see” all the new labels and show them as folders. Now you’re ready to move mail from the old labels in the old account to the new account with the new labels.
  19. In THUNDERBIRD, move the e-mails out of the old account/label to the new account/label. (When you login to Gmail via the web later, all these mails you’re putting into “folders” will be labeled appropriately.)
  20. In THUNDERBIRD, once you’re done moving all the mail out of the old labels/folders to the new account with its labels/folders – you’re technically done with Thunderbird at this point. You can opt to continue using Thunderbird if you like or not. Your choice.
  21. Now we need to get all new e-mails arrive in the OLD account to auto-forward to the NEW account. To do this, follow steps 8 thru 23 under POP method above and you’re all set.

[/hidepost]