How to keep my email?
November 3, 2011 3:31 PM   Subscribe

I'm soon to leave my current job. How can I keep my email that's in a Google Apps account through my employer (i.e., not a free Gmail account; the email address ends, not

I have between 5000 and 7000 MB of email from my years of employment at my current job, which I'm leaving soon. I'd like to keep my email when I leave. My employer definitely won't help, but I have reason to believe they'll look the other way if I figure it out. I certainly would never do anything with it that could be harmful to them.

A lot of this email was in Entourage and then Mail before we all switched over to email via Google Apps earlier this year. So, I could still access a portion of my email through each of those applications if that makes anything easier. But if I can get it all from Google Apps email, that's the one place where it all resides now, so that might be better.

So, is this a matter of forwarding it all to a @gmail account somehow? Or do I need to buy a hard-drive or other kind of (affordable?) storage and get it on there? Please answer for the not-tech-savvy. Thank you!
posted by Other to Computers & Internet (21 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Here is Google's method:
posted by donpardo at 3:36 PM on November 3, 2011

If you can enable IMAP for your Google Apps account, you can set it up as an account in, say, Thunderbird on your home computer and download it all that way.
posted by limeonaire at 3:37 PM on November 3, 2011

You certainly don't need a hard drive to store 8 GB of data. This will work. As for how to get it, it all depends on how your employer has set up their Google Apps system. The main question you need to ask is "can I access my email by an IMAP or POP interface?". No one here knows how your system is set up, so we can't answer this question for you. You need to either ask someone who knows or figure it out yourself.

Once you figure out if there's such an interface available, you could download your email in a standard email client (depends on what kind of computer you're using) and save it in whatever archive format this client uses.

Alternately, you could use the Google Mail Fetcher to transfer your mail into a google account, but, again, you'll need to know whether you can get POP access and how to access your mail by POP.

We're going to need a better description of how you're set up to give more detailed instructions.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:42 PM on November 3, 2011

donpardo's method says this:

Note: This functionality is not available to Google Apps customers. For mail migration options for Google Apps click here.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:43 PM on November 3, 2011

The IMAP route seems to be the best option if you ask me, but it all depends on who has admin controls over your company's Google Apps account.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:45 PM on November 3, 2011

The page donpardo links to describes how to transfer mail to a gmail account, which Other did ask about. Other does not want to transfer email to a Google Apps account (it's already in a Google Apps account); this is what KokuRyu's link describes.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:46 PM on November 3, 2011

Mail Fetcher seems to allow client-side configuration (ie, you may not need the assistance of a suspicious administrator).
posted by KokuRyu at 3:48 PM on November 3, 2011

posted by vsync at 3:52 PM on November 3, 2011

Before you invest too much time in this, make sure your employer is truly OK with you taking the email with you. A lot of companies consider this company private data and would object to your idea. I've worked for at least one that has you sign a document stating you're not doing such a thing as part of your exit interview.
posted by Runes at 3:54 PM on November 3, 2011

Best answer: You need POP access for Mail Fetcher; Google Apps administrators have the option of whether or not to enable POP.

Other: try this. Open the Settings tab of Gmail in your Google Apps account. Click on the tab labeled "Forwarding and POP" (see here; click on "I want to enable POP" towards the bottom). If your administrator has enabled POP access, you should be able to click on the "Enable POP for all mail" button in your Gmail settings. Then just click on "configuration instructions" below the "Enable POP" button. This will give you all the information you need to configure the Mail Fetcher in another (free, not work related) Gmail account to transfer your email.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:58 PM on November 3, 2011

Response by poster: Ok, good news so far, I think. Using mr_roboto's helpful instructions, I found that POP is enabled, and my Google Apps email is already also going to Mail on my laptop. Well, my employer's laptop. Once I turn in the laptop, I won't have Mail or a computer until I start my new job a few weeks later. What do I need to copy onto a thumb drive so that I'll be able to open the Mail files from another computer then, preferably without having to purchase Mail? I see the Mail application in my finder, but not wherever it keeps all the messages.
posted by Other at 4:09 PM on November 3, 2011

What OS version are you running? Export functionality in Mail has varied a bit between releases.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:25 PM on November 3, 2011

Response by poster: I've got Mail 3.6 on a Mac 10.5.8. Is that the right info?

Or, if the best way is to do this is still using something with POP or IMAP or Mail Fetcher to go straight from Google Apps to a different, non-work Gmail account, I'm getting stuck trying to figure that out. I clicked "configuration instructions" as you suggested, mr_roboto, but I didn't see what I should do from there. That's probably because I don't really understand what POP, IMAP, or Mail Fetcher are, or whether I should be trying to push out of Google Apps or pull in from my personal gmail or both.

Thanks for your help so far!
posted by Other at 4:29 PM on November 3, 2011

Best answer: What do you see when you click on "configuration instructions"? If it gives you a list of mail clients, just click on "other".

In Leopard, I believe that you should be able to right-click on the mailbox name in Mail and get an "Archive" option. This will let you save the mailbox as a file anywhere you like. It will be in the .mbox format, which I think most mail clients will be able to read.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:39 PM on November 3, 2011

Response by poster: Right-clicking to Archive works! I'm not confident I know which ones to do that to separately, as I have folders and subfolders kinda like this:


Employer name
Folder I made
Lots of subfolders
Lots of subfolders
Some sub-sub folders
Another folder I made
Another folder I made
Lots of subfolders
Lots of subfolders
Some sub-sub folders

All the levels except "Mailboxes" and "Employer name" seem to support the right-click archive option. Any thoughts?

As for the other method, when I click on "other" after "configuration instructions," it says to enable POP in Gmail and configure my client to match the settings it then lists out. I don't understand whether I am meant to go to my Google Apps account, my personal account, or both to do those things.

Thanks again so much for your help so far. I need to leave for a couple of hours, but I'll check back in later tonight. Would it be okay to memail you if I don't see you checking back in after that?
posted by Other at 4:54 PM on November 3, 2011

I would check your employment agreement and make sure you don't keep or transfer company confidential information to another account. I've seen people threatened and/or fired over stuff like that.

I recommend keeping a personal e-mail account at all times -- that way you don't have to send your friends your new address and you don't have to worry about accidentally taking company confidential information with you when you leave your job.
posted by elmay at 4:59 PM on November 3, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You should be able to save every mailbox as an .mbox separately.

To use Mail Fetcher, you need to turn POP on in the settings of your Google Apps account, and then configure Mail Fetcher in the settings of your personal Gmail account...
posted by mr_roboto at 5:12 PM on November 3, 2011

Response by poster: Hmm, it seems Mail Fetcher can't leave a copy in the Google Apps account, which may be too blatant a grabbing of the files on my part. So, I'll do the mboxes, which seem to be working well. Thank you so much!
posted by Other at 7:20 PM on November 3, 2011

You don't need to bother with Mail Fetcher or even IMAP - just enabling POP on the source account and importing into another Gmail account should work fine.
posted by turkeyphant at 7:25 PM on November 3, 2011

Just to echo that this is a bad idea. It's the employers property and headache to secure, you do not want it to be yours. The number of ways this could bite you or your employer are endless.

Here's a few:
- You put the mail archive on a thumb drive that is later stolen, lost, donated to charity, loaned to someone, infected with a virus, or uploaded as a torrent
- You put the mail archive on your laptop which suffers the same fate as that thumb drive
- You put the mail archive online in a place that is later hacked, or where your account is comprised by any number of methods.
- Your new employer finds out you did this to your old employer, and loses trust in you
- Your old employer reacts differently than you expect, and takes legal action...
posted by machinecraig at 7:20 AM on November 4, 2011

It's not your email. Seriously, this is a terrible idea. And for the reasons given by wise folks up thread- not because I hate hate hate when my friends send out a hotmail announcement that they're changing jobs, and then a month later start using a new work email, and then repeat the cycle in 15 months (consultants move around a lot).
posted by Lesser Shrew at 7:53 AM on November 4, 2011

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