Gmail to Gmail
July 28, 2010 9:43 AM   Subscribe

What is the easiest and best way to back up my Gmail account and import the old mail into a Gmail account?

I got married two years ago and changed my name. This meant my email changed as well. It's been two years but I still can't break free from my dependence on the old email address. Right now I'm using the old email address while forwarding the new email address to it. What I'd like to do is reverse that - use the new one as my main account and forward the old one to it.

The problem? I have years and years of mail saved in the original email address that is very important to me. We're talking lots of email...5314 MB of mail. Approximately 638450 conversations.

So how do I download all that email, back it up for safekeeping and then add it to my new account? It's important to me to have all of the emails in the new Gmail account. I use it as a collection of data that I search regularly, using Gmail's robust email searching tools.

I used labels, albeit sparingly. It would be extremely helpful if those would transfer over, too.

The new account is currently empty. I occasionally go in and delete emails that would be redundant to the original account.

So what are my options? I found a similar question from 2008 on here, but it didn't exactly answer my special snowflake needs.

Thanks in advance for your help!
posted by bristolcat to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Enable POP3 on the old account and use the Import mail in settings->Accounts and pull mail to your new account.
posted by wongcorgi at 9:57 AM on July 28, 2010

Response by poster: Will that preserve the labels?
posted by bristolcat at 11:11 AM on July 28, 2010

In MacMail, the labels all got imported as seperate boxes. Very handy, very painless and cool.

It take a VERY LONG TIME for my Mac to download all my Gmail going back to 2002 but the structure was preserved. It even took starred emails and flagged them.
posted by salishsea at 11:21 AM on July 28, 2010

The generic version is to open up both the old and new accounts in an email client, then copy and paste.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:00 PM on July 28, 2010

Once you turn on POP you don't even have to forward, it would just keep importing your mail from the old to the new account whenever your old account receives mail.

You can also set up gmail (the web interface) to send mail on behalf of another account you own, so you can add your old account to your new one.

Basically, I use this kind of thing to have a "master" account that can read and send email on behalf of my other accounts. Settings->Accounts has everything you need.

I don't know about labels. If you do labels via rules, just set up the same rules in the new account first, then they will be applied as POP pulls them over. If they're manual... not sure.
posted by wildcrdj at 1:10 PM on July 28, 2010

Response by poster: I'm messing around with POP so far. It's transferring over, albeit extremely slowly (like this is going to take a week slow). I didn't start using labels until about a year into Gmail, so I have quite a while before I know if that works or not. I think when I get home tonight, I'm just going to download it all to a mail client and do it the hard way. But at least that way, I will have a hard-drive backup.

My labels are all manual. Whee.

BTW, for anyone reading this, the "Import mail in settings>accounts" suggestion did not work. It said it could not import from a Gmail box.

Thanks, everyone!
posted by bristolcat at 1:18 PM on July 28, 2010

I'm a little late on this, but is useful for this.
posted by Erroneous at 1:39 PM on July 28, 2010

Yes, the POP transfer will take a LONG LONG time. But it will eventually finish. It's rate-limited a little slow, but that slowness is really just a one time thing, onve you're caught up future mail will transfer fine.
posted by wildcrdj at 1:55 PM on July 28, 2010

POP transfer will not preserve labels. You need to do an IMAP based copy with a tool like imapsync or a commercial offering.
posted by khedron at 3:03 PM on July 28, 2010

With Mac OS X Mail you can access both Gmail accounts as IMAP, then drag the messages from one folder (mailbox) to another. Much more reliable and forgiving than POP.
posted by markmillard at 7:17 PM on July 28, 2010

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