Friday, April 3, 2009

Switching Google Accounts: GMail

The process of importing your old email can take a long time. For me it ran for about three days, at a rate of about 200 messages every five minutes. I’ve put it up-front here because you can probably do all the other switchover's while it runs.

Copying Your Filters

If you’re like me, you’ve created a whole ton of filters to automatically label incoming messages from mailing lists, etc. — if you want all of the email you import from your old account to have these same labels, you’ll need to first copy over your filters before starting the import. This is a bit more involved, since the tool that allows you to export/import them is currently relegated to the realm of GMail Labs. On the Labs Settings page, find the one called “Filter import/export,” and enable it (be sure to scroll down to “Save” the settings).

With this lab enabled, you will find some new things at the bottom of the filters settings page: an “Export” button, and an “Import filters” link. To export, select all of the filters using the “Select All” link just above the Export button, and then click that button. When importing, it gives the option to not import certain filters, but I’ve been fairly good at deleting filters that no longer make sense (say, when I unsubscribe from something), so I just scrolled past it, and clicked the “Create filters” button.

Setting Your Old Account to Provide POP Access

GMail provides two ways to access your inbox from other applications, POP3 and IMAP, but it currently only supports downloading email from POP3. On the Forwarding and POP/IMAP settings, click the “Enable POP for All Mail,” and select “archive Gmail’s copy” from the drop-down — this will make it so that any email that you’ve imported into the new account will stop showing up in your old inbox, but will make sure you still have a copy incase something goes wrong (note: I’ve never had an issue, but I figure its better to be safe than sorry).

Importing Your Mail Into Your New Account

This is fairly simple. On the accounts settings page, click the “add a mail account you own” link under the “Get mail from other accounts” area. Type in your email address, and Gmail will find most of the right values (why doesn’t it know the right values when you’re trying to import from GMail?). Type in your old account’s password, change the POP Server to “” You might also want to set it to add a label to all the incoming mail, so in the future when people or services email you on that account, you know about it and can correct the situation.

Copying Your Contacts

I use my GMail contact list as my go-to source of phone numbers, addresses, instant messenger ids, and other bits of information I’ve gathered on the people I know. I have phone numbers in there for people I have never, ever, called. I don’t know why. The point is, I’d be lost without this list

Exporting and importing your contact list is probably the easiest thing that we’ll be doing today — there are buttons for it, helpfully named “Export” and “Import,” right in the upper-right corner of the contacts panel. When exporting, be sure to select the “Everyone” and “Google CSV” options, those are the ones designed for copying between GMail accounts (it even says so next to the Google CSV option!).