how to combine Gmail accounts?
September 3, 2015 12:01 PM   Subscribe

I have an Gmail account with an unprofessional-sounding handle—think I've been using this for far too long. Firstname.lastname@gmail isn't available, but is, and so I took that one. How can I merge the two accounts, or otherwise transition from Schnookums to FirstMiddleLast with a minimum of trouble?

Gmail won't let me import mail and contacts from one account to another. I hate to send out a "my email address has changed" to everyone I know.

Is my only option to set up a forward from Schnookums to FirstMiddleLast and gradually everyone will get used to the latter? I feel like old email addresses never die--my various programs still suggest old email addresses for friends when I type their names in.

I'm applying for new jobs now, so obviously potential employers will only see the new, professional email and never know of any Schnookums.

If it matters, I use Gmail on the web and not the mail program on my Mac. If the best answer is "funnel all the gmail accounts to the mail program and then work from there" I guess I could do that.

Thanks for your advice!
posted by pipti to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
You can have your firstmiddlelast account pull in the mail from your schnookums account. So people can e-mail to schnookums and you'll reply from firstmiddlelast without any extra work.

There are a number of other articles about multiple accounts.

I don't think you can "merge" them, and I'm not even sure what that would mean.
posted by adamrice at 12:06 PM on September 3, 2015 [5 favorites]

As adamrice mentions, you can import and delegate your old email account to the new one.

It's a good idea to set a signature and reply-to field with the new address to reinforce the transition.
posted by a halcyon day at 12:16 PM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

The easiest way to go is just to keep using your old account, but to forward all the mail from your new account to your old account. You can also set your old account to send mail as your new account and then set the new account as the default send mail as address. You can set the behaviour for replies to either reply with the same address that the email was sent to or to reply with the default address.

This is counterintuitive, as you aren't actually switching to the new address at all, but this way you avoid the hassle of actually transferring emails, contacts, etc between accounts. To anyone you correspond with, the effect is identical.

Personally, I don't think there is any need to set email signatures or send mass emails announcing the change. It makes more sense just to use the new address going forward and let people continue to use the old address as well. There is no harm in being reachable at two different addresses. Email addresses are not scarce.
posted by ssg at 12:24 PM on September 3, 2015 [3 favorites]

I'm with ssg. You can pick whichever email account you want to be your primary, and run all of your gmail accounts from there. You can even set it up to label emails that come from different accounts and default replies when you're setting up POP3 import and setting up the ability to reply from other email addresses. It's really quite easy and intuitive to use. I have like 3 gmail accounts I run from one account.

Also, you should be able to export and then import your contacts to a new account. Try using this guide, it looks up to date as far as I can tell.
posted by mayonnaises at 12:32 PM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

A caveat on this advice:
The easiest way to go is just to keep using your old account, but to forward all the mail from your new account to your old account. You can also set your old account to send mail as your new account and then set the new account as the default send mail as address.

If you do this, and both accounts are Gmail accounts, any email that you send while logged into your old account will show up to people using MS Outlook and other mail programs with this in the from field:
From: [] On Behalf Of Firstname Lastname (

It has to do with anti-spam measures and gmail populating an extra field with your "logged in" email address. There is a workaround for this issue if the "on behalf of" account is NOT gmail (use authenticated SMTP), but for some reason they haven't implemented it for gmail accounts that send as other ones.

This vexxes me because I am in a similar situation as you, and generally, when I need to send a professional email, I'm sending it into some kind of organization were MS outlook is the norm. One thing you can do, if you want to keep using your Schnookums2318 as your primary account -- which I do, too much inertia to change -- is to be disciplined about using the "Switch User" menu on the top right in gmail to switch to your Professional account before you send an important email (and it might be wise to BCC your Schnookums2318 account on those important emails so that you have a record of them in your primary account and don't have to go hunting).
posted by sparklemotion at 12:42 PM on September 3, 2015 [7 favorites]

You can backup mail from schnookums with GMVault and then push that backup to first.middle.last through the Restore function.
posted by youknowwhatpart at 12:52 PM on September 3, 2015

For the contacts, do you have an android phone? Some android phones have an annoying "feature," that is usually awful but in your case might be useful, that takes the contacts from all accounts you set up on that phone and merges/matches them. I think if you set up firstname.middlename.lastname as the main account to which the phone was registered and told it to save all your contacts to Google Contacts, then this would pull in all your schnookems addresses.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 12:53 PM on September 3, 2015

I have an old quirkily named gmail account that is my EVERYTHING account. I also have a My Name gmail account that I use for professional purposes. I have the My Name account forward to my quirkily named account that has been around since before dinosaurs ruled the earth. It makes it possible for people whom I haven't heard from in years to track me down.

If I only need to read the incoming business correspondence, I can read it at my quirkily named account. If I need to reply, I log out of it and log into the My Name account and write from there. I think I only forgot once and the result was that I had to resend the email from the My Name account and the receiver did not bother to reply to the completely unknown, who the heck is this? quirkily named account mail.
posted by Michele in California at 2:20 PM on September 3, 2015

I have done this for a couple of different IT clients but fair warning, it's a bit tedious. The trick is to use an email client like Outlook (Windows) or (mac) and have both account set up as SMTP accounts in the same email client and then move the mail via folders.
1. Install a mail client on a computer, at least temporarily, you won't need it afterwards if you don't use them regularly.
2. Set up both accounts as SMTP accounts. You do NOT want to set them to POP unless you want this to take days of download then uploading them. SMTP also has less chance of losing stuff.
3. The next thing is to move all the existing mail in snookums account into a folder (archivedmailtomove for example, it doesn't matter what you call it) in that account because most mail clients freak if you try to move stuff from one inbox to another. If you have more than 500,000 emails in your account I suggest you split them into batches of 50,000 or less and do this piecemeal.
4. Then open the folder and COPY the email to the new account into a matching folder. Don't drag and paste. If your connection hiccups you lose your mail that way. A copy gives you a chance to figure out what you lost as well as keeps your archive intact indefinitely (I don't know if you want to keep snookums after this is over or not).
5. Optional but good for nervous folks: I then tended to rename the folders after I copied them so I had an easy way to keep track of what I had finished and what I hadn't.
6. Open up a tasty beverage and watch your internet connection and mail client go quietly bonkers and flood your connection as you duplicate your digital life to its new home.
7. When it's complete you'll see all your old snookums email archived in your realname account. It will also still exist in the snookums account.
8. You can now delete the snookums account and remove it from the app as well as shut it down on gmail AFTER you have verified you can see stuff in the new account consistently. I'd do spot checks and folder counts to make sure everything went successfully.
Caveat: The old emails will show the old From address and the original mailing dates, etc, so be careful emailing people from that archive later.
posted by ladyriffraff at 6:21 PM on September 3, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! I will give some of these suggestions a try and see what's easiest.
posted by pipti at 6:09 AM on September 4, 2015

I did this before and the first two answers are the easiest way to go about this. You can easily export all your contacts from the old address book and then import it into the new account.

One thing I would recommend is that you set Gmail up so that it tags any emails it imports from the old email address. This means that you can easily see which people or companies are still sending you emails to the old address and correct them.
posted by mr_silver at 3:18 AM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've switched email accounts three times and I've always just set it to pull in old email with POP/IMAP and reply from whatever account it came from. In one of those changes, my provider had unexpectedly shut down - which was WAY worse, since I couldn't get any of the misrouted emails (especially password resets).

I never sent out a blast or anything, but for people for whom this was an issue (mostly those who aren't exactly digital natives) I did talk to them when they started stressing about where to send emails and sending every email to multiple addresses for me. Be aware that people may worry about where to send things - perhaps including information in a signature (, formerly zzz1234.snookems@gmail) for a while is a nonobtrusive option.
posted by R a c h e l at 6:57 PM on September 7, 2015

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