Migrating Gmail: From Gmail to Gmail or to anything else

I decided, since I was fed up with the older versions of everything and the lack of Google profile, that I would migrate all my stuff over from my Google Apps account to my regular Gmail account. I use Gmail to consolidate all my accounts, so I send out mail as many people and I have a couple of labels that allow me to easily see how important a message is to me, where it was sent, etc all at a quick glance of my Inbox. I’m pretty organized, and I don’t consider myself a power Gmail user. Still, with 4500-ish messages and about 1.25 GB, there’s a lot of crap to move from one account to another.
I’m here to tell you that it’s possible to migrate email accounts and that you shouldn’t let that stop you.

The easiest way to move email is probably to just set up both IMAP accounts in your favorite email client and drag everything over. In the case of Gmail, you want to drag over the All Mail folder, then re-apply your filters (which you may handily import/export thanks to a nifty tool in Gmail labs). The nice thing about Gmail is that mail is mail is mail: there are only messages (and no duplicates!), not mailboxes. My problem with this method is relying on your internet connection to migrate everything over one message at a time, which is time consuming and during which time you can’t close your laptop! I would rather offload this to Google’s servers if possible.

Well, indeed, it’s very possible.

You’re going to want to take advantage of a simple feature built into every respectable online email interface: pop3 checking.

- First, make sure the current Gmail account has no messages left to be read. Then, go into All Mail and mark every message as unread. Go into Mail settings > Forwarding and Pop/IMAP and enable POP for all mail. Then set When messages are accessed with POP to mark them as read.

Now, as we access through POP with another client, we will know where in the process the other client is at (by seeing which messages are still unread) and if anything fails, we know yet which messages need to be downloaded.

- Next, go into the new Gmail account and set it up to check for new email through POP… you should be able to figure out the specific settings on your own.

Really, that’s it! It will import all messages from your other account. I sugget that you don’t use the old account until the process is complete. It can take a very long time, but at least there is no onus on your computer and if the process fails, you’ll know which messages still need to be transferred. The process works equally well for migration to non-gmail accounts, with the┬ácaveat┬áthat it may be harder to organize the mail afterwards. One more note: You can’t move messages to the Sent Mail label within Gmail. Within Apple Mail (Mac) I moved (not copied!) them instantly through IMAP. Just Select from All Mail, right click and Move To > Sent and it moves right away (no lengthy copying required…).

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