How to Import All Your Archive Email Into Gmail

Update (10/24/2007): This post has become unexpectedly popular. After 12K page visits on day one, half a year later it still receives 5-600 visitors every day. However, now that Gmail supports IMAP, it has mostly become obsolete, so I suggest you read my Simplified Guide to Importing All Your Archive Email Into Gmail instead.

This post still has value, mostly in the comments section, where 120 or so readers help out each other on numerous related issues.

The original post:

I finally got sick of all the problems with Outlook, bit the bullet and transferred all my historical email online. Having spent a few days using “native” Gmail (vs. POP to Outlook) I already feel a lot more productive. Ironically I’m writing this on the very day when Yahoo announced unlimited storage – but I’m with Mike on this: message threading, labels and powerful search still make Gmail (the Google Apps flavor) the best choice for me. At least for now – but I keep an eye for the next incarnation of another product – will name it in due course (if you guessed which one, you’re probably right smile_shades).

Migrating to a new email service wouldn’t be complete if you couldn’t move all your old “baggage” with you. Apparently this is a burning problem for many, as a year-old post I wrote on the subject is one of my most popular hits ever. Back then I was still happily (?) POP-ing it down to Outlook, but wanted a fast all-in-one searchable archive, and Gmail was the perfect solution. But none of the solutions were perfect – until now. There are several “gmail-loader” tools on the Net, but some simply don’t work, others change the original sender information to the email account they use for the transfer – pretty bad, IMHO. My simple solution a year ago was using Thunderbird with a redirect extension. You can read the steps to achieve this here. Even this solution wasn’t flawless: gmail listed all historical mail with the date of the transfer – the original date was sill preserved and searchable, you just got the list display messed up. This still appears to be the biggest hurdle users face according to this new discussion on Lifehacker.

The final solution comes from Google themselves: now that they quietly expanded Mail Fetcher to Google Apps accounts, and removed the “non-gmail source” restriction, there is a simple yet perfect two-steps process to get it all done. Gmail Mail Fetcher fixes the date problem, so now in two steps and using two email accounts you can get it all right.

Step 1: Load all your client-based email to a temporary Gmail account either using my Thunderbird procedure, or, for an easier and elegant solution, get hold of an IMAP account. Gmail does not support IMAP, but my old provider, is not a bad choice: 5 email accounts, 2G each with IMAP support $0.99 / month.

In Outlook (or whatever email client) set up an IMAP account according to the instructions from your online provider. Then folder by folder copy all email into the Inbox on the newly created IMAP account. Don’t forget your Sent Mail folder: yes, that goes into the IMAP Inbox, too. Open all your archives and repeat the same process. Don’t worry if it takes a wile: Outlook doesn’t simply copy between local folders, it shoots up all your email to your temporary IMAP server on the web, and you’ll be constrained by your upstream speed (typically lower than downstream). If you have a spare PC, it’s a good idea to use that one.

Step 2: Now that your email is online, make sure POP access is enabled from your temporary account. If this is a gmail account (not IMAP), this is the setting you need:

“Enable POP for all mail (even mail that’s already been downloaded)”

Then in your Gmail target account – the final destination where you want to have all your archive mail – set up Gmail Mail Fetcher to pick up all mail from your temporary account. The dates will magically be fixed!

Here are Google’s instructions on setting up Mail Fetcher. Do NOT check the button for “Leave a copy of retrieved messages on the server” – you do want Mail Fetcher to “eat” them all from the temporary account, in fact that will be one of your indicators that the transfer is finished. Be prepared for a slow process – Gmail will poll your temporary account at 60-90 minute intervals, fetching 200 emails at a time. At Settings > Accounts you can follow the progress, but ignore the “nnn mails remaining” indicator, as it’s totally wrong. When all done, don’t be alarmed that the number of fetched emails is less than what you started with: your email client (and the IMAP server) counted individual emails, while Gmail will group them into thread, and reports the thread count, which could be significantly lower.

Last, but not least a word on labels / categories: if you nicely organized your Outlook archive in folders, Gmail has no way to preserve that structure. The trick here is to do Steps 1 and 2 in iterations, completely transferring one folder at a time. Then you can set a label for all your fetched email to match the original Outlook folder, and keep on changing it folder by folder.

Finally there is the issue of backup: after all we heard of disappearing Gmail… If you trust Gmail, just worried about what may happen to your individual account, there is always the option of setting up a shadow-gmail account which will fetch everything from your primary one. If you want a local archive, “just in case”, either run Outlook to periodically POP your mail down, or I believe Thunderbird has a plugin that allows it to be minimized to the system tray permanently and check the POP server in the background.

Update (3/28): One potential problem I forgot to mention is that all the fetched email becomes “unread”. Hard to believe, but Gmail does not have a “set all read” feature, and while there are some scripts, I’ve read stories of user accounts being suspended for 24 hours for scripting activity. If anyone has an idea how to changed all mail to “read” please comment below, I’ll bring it up here. Thanks.

Update to the update: The solution comes from Jason Brown, and it’s a surprise: Gmail has added a trick, I have no idea when. In Inbox (or wherever the messages are) choose “Select: All” from the list just above the message list. That will select all of the messages that are visible in the list – but here’s the surprise: At the top and bottom of the list where so it used to only say “All 100 conversations on this page are selected”, there is an additional clickable message: “Select all xxxx conversations in Inbox”, which will in fact select *all* the messages in the Inbox. Then choose “Mark as read” from the “More actions…” drop-down list. Job done! You can do this on Inbox, labels, or if you select All Mail, then on the entire account in a single step. Thanks, Jason!

Somewhat related: The Yahoo Mail announcement (unlimited storage) is picking up steam on Techmeme: Google Blogoscoped, PC World: Techlog,Techdirt, Google Operating System, Monkey Bites, CyberNet Technology News, michael parekh on IT,, Web Strategy, Download Squad, WebProNews, franticindustries, The Webpreneur, Search Engine Land, Liquidmatrix Security Digest, Conversion Rater, larry borsato, Gizmodo, CrunchGear, CenterNetworks and parislemon

Update (4/7): It’s somewhat obvious, but here’s a tip for backing up your archive online: create another (a third, fourth ..etc) Gmail account, configure Mail Fetcher there with your main account as the source, and voila! – you have a second, third..etc backup copy of all your email. I felt the need to spell this out upon reading Using Google Groups To Backup Gmail by The Google Tutor. It’s an interesting concept and nicely written up, but I think it’s built on fundamentally flawed logic:

  • If you’re worried about losing content in your particular gmail account, why not get a second /third backup as I described above? You have the full gmail functionality, which you don’t get with Groups.. What’s the chance of losing all the accounts at the same time? Besides, this method will backup your “Sent” mail, too, which forwarding to Groups can’t help with.
  • On the other hand, if you’re worried about Google in general, then why trust yet-another Google service? Groops is no safer than Gmail in that case.


  1. Yahoo Mail Announces Unlimited Storage

    Yahoo is announcing that all Yahoo Mail users will have free unlimited email storage starting in May 2007. The current storage limit is 1 GB per account (2 GB for $20/year premium users). With this change, Yahoo leapfrogs Gmail (2.8 GB and growing) and…

  2. Anonymous says

    I have just made the switch to Gmail this week myself. Did you experience any duplicates of emails appearing in Gmail, joined together in conversations? I got a few of them towards the end of the transfer.

  3. Anonymous says

    Just great, thank you. i will spend my next weekend, backing up my mails.

    Shame, that all username combinations I normaly use weren’t free, as I signed in to gmail.

    (name.surname, name_surname, name+first letter of surname)

    That’s the only reason why i don’t use gmail as my real address.

    Will they ever change that is the same as I have such a common name, i guess *sigh*

  4. very important: are the dates on your imported emails preserved? if you did a search in gmail for mail dated before 2003, would the correct messages be found?

  5. baratunde: I believe so, and this has been confirmed by other people as well. We have been discussing Mail fetcher on the Google Apps newsgroup for some time and I am very impressed with it so far. Now if they would only implement a Chat Fetcher, as I probably have more archived chat messages in my old gmail account than I had archived email!

  6. David, why not just get your own domain and use it on Google Apps? It’s free.

  7. Yes, they are, that’s the whole point in my post. In fact even prior to Mail Fetcher, with the older import method the original date was preserved. You could search on it, and whenever you displayed an email, it also showed the correct original date.

    Only the list display was messed up by the older method, as the list showed the fetch date.

    That’s why I am now using the 2-step method, the second step by Mail Fethcer restores the original date even for the list display.

  8. I am POPing mail from an IMAP account and seem to get the correct date in also in list view on the first fetch, ie is there really a need for a temp Gmail account to fix the dates?

  9. No, you’re right, IMAP preserves the correct date. I did not necessarily propose 2 gmail accounts, just 2 accounts meaning that Mail Fetcher can only get it from a web-account, not your email client directly. So in short:

    – First step is upload from client.

    – best process for this is IMAP, which Gmail does not support, hence the need for Mail Fetcher to a second account

    – if not IMAP, then your dates will be messed up, but the Mail Fetcher process will fix it.

  10. Anonymous says

    > Hard to believe, but Gmail does not have a “set all read” feature

    Go to your Inbox (or wherever the messages are), and choose “Select: All” from the list just above the message list. That will select all of the messages that are visible in the list. Scroll to the bottom of the list and then choose “Select all xxxx conversations in Inbox”, which will select *all* the messages in the Inbox. Then choose “Mark as read” from the “More actions…” drop-down list. Job done!

  11. Anonymous says

    Wow, I’ll be damned… I don’t know since when they have this option, but never noticed it! Thanks for opening my eyes – I added it to the post above.

  12. SearchCap: The Day In Search, March 28, 2007

    Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web:…

  13. Anonymous says

    Nice post, very helpful, I may follow suit.

  14. Tech News 3/28/3007

    Some technology stories making the headlines today/yesterday.
    Yahoo Mail to offer unlimited storage In May, Yahoo will start giving users unlimited storage with their email, up from 1GB in the free version.
    HP Exits Media Center Business, Drops DEC Lin…

  15. Daily SearchCast, March 28, 2007: Search Engines Woo Mobile Handset Makers; Yahoo Goes Unlimited On Email Storage; MSN UK Runs Ad In The Search Box & More!

    Google cuts a deal to bundle mobile apps on LG phones (the preferred phones of Googlemeister Matt Cutts), the latest in the battle by search engines to woo handset makers. Everyone’s going loco for local! Yahoo offers unlimited email storage — hey, wa…

  16. Anonymous says

    yahoo mail also has imap …

  17. Anonymous says

    Yes, if you pay for it, you get IMAP and POP from Yahoo.

  18. Anonymous says

    thanks for confirming!

    now to collect my old emails 🙂

  19. SearchCap: The Day In Search, March 28, 2007

    Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across

  20. Anonymous says

    Buy a domain on Godaddy or whatever, forward (or use pop) all email from to a gmail account. Then configure Gmail to use as the default send address.

    That way you are using the best invention on the internet with your with your private and personal email.

  21. Anonymous says

    Yes, that has been the way to do it prior to Google Apps For Your Domain, which allows you to use your Godaddy-registered domain directly with Gmail. The method you propose will result in the funny on behalf of header.

  22. Anonymous says

    Very cool. Just one question — why does it need to be the Google apps version of gmail?

    I do have my own domain, but I do not want to hand over my mx to google. I prefer having it with my webserver / imap account (oh dreamhost, oh-so-cheap-and-shaky…), etc. Also, having email stuck at 2 gb may actually be an issue at some point 😉

    Question 2 would be whether anyone can point me to a good pro/con discussion of handing over my soul to google apps.

  23. Anonymous says

    some users are able to get free imap (like myself), but it’s quite sporadic…

    search for: yahoo mail imap next … you should find out all you need (don’t want a direct link since this post is read quite heavily)

  24. Anonymous says

    Of course it does not have to be, that’s just my preference, but you can do this with a generic Gmail account.

    My soul … oh, well, we all know since Scott McNelly’s famous declaration that our privacy has long gone anyway …

  25. Anonymous says

    This method works great, thanks. Is there a way to filter duplicate copies of the same messages. I merged few archives and apparently there are some overlaps. How to remove the duplicates, any ideas?

  26. Anonymous says

    No idea, unfortunately. I’m sure I have duplicates, triplicates and worse… but the old stuff is there so I can find it by search, not for browsing, and since the dupes all come up in the same thread, they don’t really bother me.

    I wanted a complete searchable archive, and rather err on the side of dupes than missing something.

  27. Anonymous says

    I feel the same way. As long as I did not miss any messages having multiple copies is not so bad. But being the above average (!) organized one (Monk?!) when I go to bed at night those duplicates keep me up all night. 🙂

  28. Anonymous says

    I’ll probably hold off until Gmail finally offers IMAP: That would be the best of both worlds, surely, access mail over the web on the go and on my mail client at home.

  29. Today GMail is not allowing pop download from other gmail accounts. So, I guess in your solution both the temp and the target accounts can not be from google.

  30. Anonymous says

    Actually it does. That was my whole point: originally the source had to be non-gmail, and Google appears to have lifted that restriction. But they don’t make big announcements and don’t make the changes available to all accounts at once. I had a lot of feedback confirming that it works, and few users reported it did not – like you. So my guess is that it’s just a matter of time when you will also be able to fetch gmail. You probably have to check it from time to time – there won’t be any notice from Google.

  31. Anonymous says

    Is there any way I can move my thunderbird “sent” folder into the gmail sent folder?

  32. Anonymous says

    You actually don’t have to modify your MX records; just verify domain ownership, and then set up a forwarder in your domain email to point to [username]@[]

    Email will then forward to your google apps mail account, and your ‘sent’ address will be from your domain;

  33. Anonymous says

    This is great, and it should work in theory. But I’m having trouble in practice — the problem seems to be with gmail’s fetcher. It ate all the emails from my imap/pop account (16000 messages) but only 4000 conversations showed up in gmail. I know this isn’t just a grouping thing because there were no conversations after around 2003. Anyone have a similar problem? I’m trying again in batches of 2000, but it looks like the first fetch of 200 ate lost about 3 emails (167 conversations in inbox, and I counted 20 emails accounted for by grouping!) The second fetch says it got 200 emails, and they disappeared from pop, but they have yet to show up in my inbox. Where did they go? I thing there’s some delay in processing because emails slowly and inexplicably materialize after I’ve deleted all messages. Maybe I’ll try again, but turn off “delete from server”. Kinda annoying… living up to the beta name. Suggestions?

  34. Anonymous says

    I did not experience losses. I wonder if it may have to do with read/unread setting in the source account?

    Could you have a filter in Gmail (target account) that archives it immediately? Tip: find an email from the source account that you think is “missing”. Copy a fairly unique text string (like a long sentence) from source, paste it into the search box in the traget Gmail account and see if it’s there.

    If you’re re-trying Fetcher from the same account, then I know what’s happening – Gmail is smarter than I thought, will not fetch the same email from the same source account again. It includes it in the 200 count though.

  35. Anonymous says

    I think this must have been another one of google’s infamous “limited rollout” features, because I just went to the trouble of uploading a ton of email to a second gmail account, only to discover that attempting to add it to mail fetcher results in an error to the effect of “cannot fetch from gmail domain.” So I guess I’ll have to wait until I become one of the privileged few.

  36. Anonymous says

    Thanks for the suggestions. Glad to hear it worked for you (and considering the size of your mailbox, I can infer that is not the problem). It’s not an archive filter, and I have looked for the emails in “all mail”.

    Doing more research, I found that others have have had similar problems (

    There is definitely a delay in processing between the “fetch” and appearing in the inbox. Apparently this can range from minutes to hours. But at least one other person has lost emails (days go by without them appearing).

    Interesting point about re-fetching from the same account. I have removed and re-added the account, but perhaps google still remembers things. I can try renaming the account. Anyways, I’m not expecting you to have all the answers here, mostly posting so that if anyone else has trouble, they know they are not alone and know to look at the google groups to try and troubleshoot.

  37. Anonymous says

    I really don’t know if the “dedupe” (undupe?) feature is related to the source account specifically, or just matching the exact info in message headers.

    Here’s how I discovered it: since Fetcher does not recognize / import labels, I first looked at labels at the source account, then set up filters in the target account with the right criteria to re-create those labels on import. There was one label in the source account with less than 100 conversations that I simply could not find logical criteria for – this label was manually assigned . So I thought when everything else is done, I delete everything but this one label in the source, run Mail Fetcher again, and assign everyting in this run to the one label i need.

    To my surprise, I saw the fetch run, 200 processed, in the source account everything moved from inbox to archive, yet only 2-3 new mail showed up in the target account. That’s when I started to suspect Gmail may be chacking for duplicates. Then I did the text string search I described in the previous comment, and voila! all the “missing” email was already sitting in the target account, I just had no way of locating them. (there are now 26K conversations in the account).

    Then, with everything fetched I test-deleted 2 emails in the target account, reset the “pop everything” setting in the destination, re-ran Fetcher, and yes, it picked up the deleted 2 emails, and only those again.

  38. Anonymous says

    Thank you so much. This is so awesome as I’ve just bought a new computer and have decided that I will be switching to Gmail permanently to avoid the mess of exporting/importing e-mail every time I get a new computer.

    Since I don’t have easy access to an IMAP server I used the option of exporting to Thunderbird and uploading to the temporary Gmail archive. One question if I may; what do you do with Sent mail? You upload it to the temporary Gmail and grab it using Mail Fetcher? Does the mail recognize that it’s Sent mail and drop it into the appropriate folder automagically? Thanks.

  39. Anonymous says

    Not all my Email seems to move over using this method. I get maybe 1/8 of them and they seem to be from only specific email address like a good friend of mine. Anyone else experiencing this?

  40. Anonymous says

    has anyone tried using AOL or mail for the temp storage as they support IMAP?



  41. Anonymous says

    Thanks for the great article. I’m wondering about Sent Items. You say to put the Sent Items in the Inbox, too. This I did, and they appeared in the Inbox over on the Gmail account. I was hoping they would show up in Sent Items instead. Any tricks up your sleeve for this problem? I not finding a way to move them from the Inbox to Sent Items but perhaps I’m not looking hard enough?

    – PeterM

  42. Anonymous says

    You can’t place email explicitely into the “Sent” folder, but you can set a filter to “skip inbox, archive” all the incoming (fetched) mail, which places it into the “All” folder.

    This is quite enough for me, I don’t browse email that’s several years old, I typicall search, and the results show up in a threaded conversation, where it’s obvious what’s sent and what’ received. I think with Gmail’s thread concept the notion of inbox/outbox is less important.

    That said, I can see some of my fetched /archived email in the “Sent” folder, and not others, and I can’t figure out what made the difference.

  43. Anonymous says

    Hi Zoli – I can’t tell you how this is useful – thanks. I have opened myself an account on, opened an email account and successfully setup an IMAP folder in Outlook 2K, I am already transferring emails from O2K to my 1and 1 email account online. However, I can’t add the account in Gmail, and you see to see about this “hence the need for Mail Fletcher to a second account”. I’m confused – I thought the point was to (1) send all email from my local PC to an online IMAP account; and (2) tell Gmail to retrieve emails from that account. I can’t get the latter to work… Am I missing something obvious?? Many thanks…

  44. Anonymous says

    You’re close: but Gmail needs to access the same 1and1 account not as IMAP but POP. and other account settings the same as what you have in Outlook now.

  45. Anonymous says

    I have successfully uploaded 5000+ emails to my 1and 1 account using the IMAP folder suggestion from Outlook 2K, but when I try to add the 1and1 email account using, I get the following error – see screenshot at 🙁

  46. Anonymous says

    I’ve used the same settings, so can’t imagine what’s wrong. The only difference is that I used my own domain at 1and1, not the long one they assign. Even than it created one with the format and it calls it a subdomain, which I’ve never touched.

    Since you are obviously using Outlook, have you tried setting up POP access to this account from Outlook? The Gmail setting should be the same.

    If anyone else has ideas, feel free to jump in!

  47. Anonymous says

    Yep… I’m continuing this thread into the following Google Forum post – thanks!

  48. Anonymous says

    Oh, yeah, somwhere on their site 1and1 mentions not to use SSL.

    I guess you’re almost OK then?


  49. I have an old gmail account

    I’m trying to move every mail to

    I’ve enabled pop access on, and set up the mail fetcher for

    It copies about 100-150 emails, then fails with messages such like:

    Error: Server is temporarily unavailable.

    Server returned error “[SYS/TEMP] Temporary system problem. Please try again later.”

    This error message continues and eventually I get a “Sector 4 Lockdown” for and can’t access the account.

    This has happened twice so far, and I’ve only been able to transfer 330 mails in 4 days, with lockdown happening twice.

    I don’t think mail fetcher has been completely enabled for transferring between gmail accounts in all cases.

  50. I also had server unavailable messages in the process, although only for hours. Don’t worry abut it, just leave the setup as it is, it will continue fetching after a while. The “normal” rate of transfer is 200 per run, with a 1 -1 1/2 hour frequency.

  51. Hi,

    I am trying to import from a gmail account too and I have the following error message “You can’t fetch mail from Gmail accounts” .

    Any clues ?



  52. Alex, don’t have more clues than what’s already been discussed in the comments above: apparently Google is rolling this out, a lot more accounts are enabled in the past, but not all….keep on checking your account, but pls. understand, I don’t speak for Google.

  53. Anonymous says

    So if I understand this correctly, when using the IMAP format you need an ISP who allows you to access mail via both POP and IMAP? I use AOL or AIM Mail which uses IMAP only. Can I still use this account to transfer my mail?

  54. Anonymous says

    Zoli – Great work! Shortly after you posted, I commandeered an unused IMAP account and started pushing my 60,000 message archive to GMail. I transferred mail in chunks, so as not to overwhelm the rather tiny IMAP I had. It’s worked beautifully, although slowly, as you note. The transfer should be complete this weekend. I have another GMail account ready and waiting as backup, but neither of my accounts has the ability to fetch GMail yet. I’ll continue with offline backup (and backups of backups) at least until then – maybe after, too. Anyway… after shepherding emails from computer to computer and software to software, it will be great to have everything online and properly mirrored.

  55. Anonymous says

    Todd, where are you based? I wonder if Mail Fetcher is rolled out based on geography (?). Some other readers also noted they don’t have it, yet I created a new test account and it came with Mail Fetcher enabled….

  56. Anonymous says

    in the central US. I have Mail Fetcher and it grabs from other accounts, but if i set it to capture from another Gmail account, but leave a copy of the mail in the original account, it refuses. for the “” server it says it can’t leave a copy; for the “” server it says it wont fetch from a Gmail account.

  57. Anonymous says


    I faced exactly the same issue; Wonder if got around this problem?



  58. Shashi-

    At this point, I haven’t. I’m still downloading a copy of my mail to the desktop, using I’ve created a second Gmail account that I hope will become an online backup for the main account, so I’ll wait until Mail Fetcher for that account starts fetching from Gmail. I’m also considering Google Apps, once its tools allow for migration from other Gmail accounts. Ultimately, I’d like my Gmail account mirrored on another Gmail account, and probably offline, too.

  59. Anonymous says


    Good luck. I’m doing something similar. In the meantime, I found that if you set server to on gmail account 2 and uncheck “leave messages” (making sure that in gmail account 1 the “keep gmail’s copy in inbox” option is selected) – Mail fetcher works are desired (keeps email in account 1 and replicates to account 2) without the warnings we faced earlier) But as Zoli pointed out -the counts come out all inconsistent and so I have no clue whether I got everything… 🙁 Hope this helps.


  60. Anonymous says

    I got that message as well when I tried to use However, using worked fine. Maybe try that.

  61. Anonymous says


    You rock! I tried this method and it works perfectly – it grabs email for account 2 but leaves the original copy in the first account

  62. Hello,

    Sorry if this has been mentioned, looked through the comments and didn’t see it.. but can this be done with yahoo mail? I’d love to be able to switch all my yahoo mail to gmail and have the dates correct and put into threads! But I’m not sure how do accomplish that, based on what has been said here.

    Or is these instructions for just for Outlook?


  63. Anonymous says

    Me again! I now got it so I can take emails from yahoo and put them into Outlook while using YPOPs! Though Outlook deletes the mail it takes from yahoo.. and I don’t want that to happen. Can’t find an option to stop that either.

    Anyone got any suggestions? Thanks!

  64. Anonymous says

    I tried the thunderbird metod whith redirect. As i didn

  65. Anonymous says

    I tried the thunderbird method whith redirect. As i didn

  66. Anonymous says

    I would skip Outlook. Yahoo gives you 30 days to try Mail Plus, which enables POP access, so you could use Gmail Mail Fetcher to pick up all your mail from Yahoo directly, then just cancel Mail Plus at Yahoo 🙂

    I haven’t tried this and not sure what the criteria are, but I guess you may have to mark all your Yahoo mai unread.

  67. AWESOME! I got Mail Plus, and gmail just fetched 199 messages. Dates, addresses, all are good! Even the read ones. Though I’m lacking my sent mail. Kind of would like those too, makes my threads look a bit one sided. Know of a possible way?

    I do see with Plus, I can download my sent into an archive that Outlook can access. Maybe that’d work? Though no idea if it would then add those emails into the threads in the right places if I use the Outlook method, lol.

    Thanks for your idea though, great so far!

  68. Update: I just made a new folder, and moved some of my sent mail to it. I’m hoping gmail will take it from there, on it’s next fetch.

  69. Anonymous says

    Nope it didn’t. Though I’m an idiot! I can move sent messages to the inbox, haha. Hopefully gmail will take those, in the next fetch. =)

  70. Anonymous says

    That should work, see this previous comment and my response to it.

  71. Thanks for the help! Signing up for Plus was a great suggestion. This was so much easier than I thought it was going to be. Moving everything to the inbox is working, and gmail is even putting most of my sent items, in the sent folder! Plus I haven’t noticed any mistakes in the threads it’s building. =)

  72. Anonymous says

    check your spam on your gmail account. For some reason, much of my transferred mail ended up in spam, so needed to be put back to inbox.

    Actually, if you are using Zoli’s ‘temp gmail’ method, you need to move all spammified mail to inbox before it can be retrieved by mail fetcher. In the final destination account, you’ll have to do the same.

    Does anyone know how use settings to prevent transferred mail being treated as Spam?

  73. I think it’s because Gmail “learns” what’s spam by individual accounts, so your new account may not be “trained” yet.

    I don’t think you can prevent it. There is no way to create filters based on header info, which would show the forwarding (temp) account.

    But if the transfer happens relatively fast (days), you can “unspam” the trapped mail with relatively little effort and this will “train” your account.

  74. Anonymous says

    Thanks for bothering to comment!!

    I too was stuck when using, but worked just fine.

  75. Anonymous says

    I used the thunderbird “remove duplicates” extension, reduced my 1998-2007 inbox/sent from 20000 to 10000 messages. very useful!

  76. Anonymous says

    The whole process of transfer thunderbird -> gmail.archive -> gmail should be made one folder at a time.

    Making labels in gmail.archive is no use since the labels are not transferred.

    So start the transfer with folders with no traffic …


    Thanks for the info!

    Now I will start the slow and very manual process of transfers …


  77. Anonymous says

    Do Google make backups of whatever is on their servers?

    Using google groups or a second gmail account does not avoid problems with hd crash, at least if the backup is on the same hd.

    anyway, using another google account or groups erases any used labels. so although backup still a complete mess …

    saw some ? on how to recuperate groups into gmail

    perhaps use forward to yahoo as backup 🙂


  78. Anonymous says

    They claim to have backups… but I’m doing my own. You’re right, using another Gmail account is not absolutely safe .. but I’m taking chances that the backup account, created at a very different time might be on a different server.

    Labels? Depends on how you use them. Most of mine are auto-labels via filters, so I can re-create the logic on the receiving account. This clearly does not help with manual labeling….

    Forward to Yahoo? That does not backup your Sent mail. Why not POP it into Yahoo?

  79. Anonymous says

    I’ve tried this out from gmail to gmail, and it does work, but not as easily as I had anticipated. The source account has about 3300 conversations as listed by Gmail. On the first go, it transfered just under 1000. Then it went a few days without getting any (none remaining in status). I thought it might have been the new account grouping more messages together, but this wasn’t the case as evidenced by both the size in MB and by searching for specific messages.

    So, since you pointed out that Gmail won’t fetch the same message twice, I told the source account to POP all mail again. And more transfered. But still not all. I’ve done this a bunch of times over the past two weeks, and I’m closing in on the 3300, but it seems to get slower as it goes along.

    Has anyone else had to do it this way?

  80. Anonymous says

    I’m surprised not to find anyone questioning how to verify that all mail has been successfully transfered by Mail Fetcher. I am using the IMAP solution, and have confirmed that all mail has been POPed out of it. So I assume that means it made its way to my Google Apps account. However, I prefer not to assume, so I am still looking for a way to convert the conversation count that Google Apps provides to a message count, so that I can confirm that I ended up with the same number of messages that I started with. Any suggestions? I haven’t been able to find any way of doing this. Thanks!

  81. Anonymous says

    I’d rather not assume, either, but I doubt there is a way to get message count out of Gmail instead of conversation count. I’d love to be proven wrong, so if anyone knows a solution, please jump in here!

  82. Anonymous says

    I’ve had a gmail account up and running for 2 years now and tried using it to fetch emails from a temporary account, but the dates are showing up as the current time. Any thoughts? Do I need a fresh gmail account to get this to work? If so, would I have to load mail from my current gmail into thunderbird, then have the temp account fetch it, then in turn have my new permanent account fetch that?

  83. Anonymous says

    pop seems more clever than just forward 🙂


    i put google talk “off the record”.

    usually nothing worthwhile in there anyway …

  84. Anonymous says

    Okay, I’ve found a solution (albeit brute force). After all mail had arrived in the Google Apps account, I just POPed it back out of that Googlel Apps account to Thunderbird. Doing so provides the corresponding message count to the Google Apps’ conversation count. I then compared this count to the original message count I started with. Just one note for anyone else who plans to confirm the count this way; i originally had duplicate messages. When Mail Fetcher POPed from the IMAP server, it was smart enough to not deliver the duplicates (although it does appear to have fetched them). Be sure to take this into consideration when comparing your original and final message counts (there seem to be programs available to remove duplicate messages for most email clients).

  85. Anonymous says

    I have the same problem. I wonder if Google have deliberately changed the behaviour of the Fetcher …

  86. Anonymous says

    I am tired of Outlook, IE, and XP. In this article ( I talked about my switch to Linux. Does GMail have any features that allow me to sync up with the Outlook calendar? I am using Evolution since it is the only thing I can find for the calender. It is not working real well for me. I have been using Thunderbird at home for years and love it.

  87. Anonymous says

    I am also having this problem. Any ideas what happened? It’s useless to have the current date/time.

  88. Anonymous says

    Fantastic!!! Thanks for pointing this feature out! I have now imported 3 yahoo email accounts, containing 10 years of emails! All searchable in the 1 place now!

    Funny thing though. In gmail filters, I forward emails from several groups of senders to my mobile phone’s email address. I got hundred’s of emails forwarded to my phone before I 1) switched my phone’s sound OFF.. .It was screaming “You’ve got mail” in Japanese over and over and over and over…….. and 2) went to each and every gmail filter that had forwarding to my mobile phone and deleted the forwarding…. what a mad scramble.

    In Summary : SWITCH OFF FORWARDING BEFORE IMPORTING! or you will be in for a nice surprise….

  89. Anonymous says

    Is nice though that gmail filters work on the incoming mail. You can set up labels before you do the imports for example…..

  90. Anonymous says

    Want to speed the process up? Gmail fetcher only fetches 200 mails at a time, then you have to wait an hour or more for the next fetch? To force a refetch, click “Edit info” in the “Get mail from other accounts” section, then Save again. It will do another retrieve of 200 emails… repeat until all emails retrieved….

  91. Anonymous says

    Also works for Hotmail! set up hotmail account(s) in Outlook express, as well as your IMAP/POP3 account (I found has a free service that offers POP3 and IMAP).

    Just copy the hotmail emails to the IMAP account’s inbox by dragging and dropping in outlook express. THen do the Gmail Fetcher thing, and you have 10 years of hotmail searchable in Gmail. Still haven’t found a nice way to forward new hotmail mails to gmail though… But with this structure set up, just open Outlook Express now and then and copy hotmails to the IMAP ( inbox. The fetcher in gmail will take care of the rest. Shame you can’t set up rules in O.Exp to move mails to an IMAP folder…. hmm… I should look into other clients that also support Hotmail such as Thunderbird…. will repost if it works.

  92. Anonymous says

    can anyone else verify this? has anyone done this with a large number of emails and checked to make sure they were ALL there?

  93. Anonymous says

    I’ve done it with a failry large number of emails (close to 2G), but there really isn’t a good way to verify they are *all* there, since Gmail displays the number of conversations, not individual emails.

    Someone in this thread suggested the rather laborous way of re-downloading email into a client only to count them again, but even that’s not a perfect solution: Gmail’s Fetcher appears to filter out duplicates, so the total number will get reduced, even if you do have everything.

    I guess it’s up to:

    – faith

    – random testing

  94. Anonymous says

    Anyone? It seems to be slowing down like a log function. Now I’m getting two at a time between changing the pop settings. And I’ve still got almost a hundred to go. Am I the only one?

  95. Anonymous says

    Also, for those that want their original Sent Mail to appear in the new Gmail’s Sent Mail, you need to set up the account such that you can send e-mail from the original address. It’s an option when you set up the account for the first time, or if you use Edit Info later on. When you do this, it will send a confirmation e-mail to the original address and once confirmed, your Sent Mail should have some messages.

  96. Deinonych says

    Thanks for posting this. I just converted my Thunderbird mail over to Gmail (using the IMAP method), and it worked perfectly!

  97. I am using Nationally Speaking. (A voice dictated program) I suffer from multiple sclerosis.
    Is there an easier way of transferring my AOL mail Gmail?

    Thank you, Robyn

  98. Hi, Robyn.

    You can try downloading all your mail to Mozilla Thunderbird, or configuring there your mail account as IMAP, and then following the procedures stated in this page to move the mail to your Gmail account.

    For info on AOL and IMAP, Google for “AOL MAIL IMAP” ( There are many resources there.

    Good luck!

  99. Can anyone tell me how to archive messages in my sent folder?


  100. Hi, Kim.

    As far as I know, that is not an available option for free Gmail users. The payed Google Apps Gmail service seems to have mail import tools, though.


  101. Kim,

    I’m not sure I understand your question right, but if you’re asking how to move your offline (client based) sent folder to Gmail, you can simply drop all “sent” items into any (inbound) mail folder you created, use the IMAP process and it will get moved to Gmail. This is actually explained in the original post.

    On Gmail all your email is stored in the “All mail” folder. I believe – haven’t checked, just read somewhere – that what gets listed in the
    “sent” folder simply depends on the sender account: obviously your gmail account itself, and all accounts you set up to “send email as”.

  102. It is exactly as you said, Kim. Thanks!

    I just added to “send e-mail as” an e-mail account from which I had previously imported 6000 messages and the Sent folder suddenly populated.


  103. if you’re technically inclined, a simpler solution is to temporarily install a POP server on your computer. i installed dovecot and pretty much used the default configuration. i had to tell my router to forward port 110 (POP) to my machine. then i stored all the mail i wanted to upload in mbox format as a file called inbox in the folder in which dovecot would be looking for mail. then i just pointed google’s mail downloader to my own computer and watched as all my mail appeared in my google inbox — all dates and addresses preserved.

    i’m using fedora core 6 linux.

  104. RIchard Maier says

    Great procedure!! I was able to import from Ipswitch directly and skipped several steps. Question, how can I get contact information from the same account? I can do it through a copy/paste on a spreadsheet, however, I would like the 35 end users to be able to do it on their own. Thank you.

  105. I made a temp GMAIL account, made a temp imap email, dragged my sent mail in outlook into temp imap folder, used fetch from temp gmail acct. and it all worked fine. My question is this, it appears that the dates are correct already in the temp gmail…

    Is it no longer necessary to use a temp gmail, but instead I should just go directly to my real gmail account?

    Also, for the SENT mail items, if I add all the old accounts I sent mail from in outlook to the temp gmail account ‘send as’ list, the sent mails should migrate to my sent folder in temp gmail account right? then can I retrieve those from the real gmail account? (from temp gmail sent folder to real gmail sent folder) or should I wait until they are in the real gmail account to move them to sent folder.

    It seems it would be easier to do in the temp folder as they won’t get mixed with all my current emails. eh? But I don’t know if the fetch function will get sent mails from another gmail account?

  106. So I noticed aim mail has IMAP support now, I tryed uploading my old emails to them though and the dates were getting lost, for the current time. Not ideal. Any suggestions?

  107. Alright, so I noticed I was still running Thunderbird 1.5, I downloaded Thunderbird 2.0 and viola it works like a charm. I’ve uploaded all my email to my AIM email account via imap and then redownloaded it to gmail. Most excellent. Thanks for the advice dude!

  108. two days before i.e. approx16/09/2007 I by mistake select a e-mail and pressed the Archiev button by mistake. Now I had lost that e-mail from my in box but I want read that e-mail it was an important message from my friend. now how can I get back that e-mail from Archiev please help me its an urgent.

    Vishnu Joshi

  109. Thanks for the tip, works great. A bit slow but VERY useful.

    One thing though: gmail is importing all the mail from my IMAP account (my own ISP) straight into the trash. I then have to move it into the inbox and then archive it. – is this normal?

  110. Has anyone tried this method using a gmail domain account (not ending in .gmail) as the final destination? When I set up the fetcher it definitely grabs all of the mail from my temp gmail account but the dates are not preserved in the list view and the sending is listed as “me” for all mails.

  111. Jesse Donat says

    Just uploaded all my email to AIM (aol instant messenger)’s free IMAP, which preserved the dates,
    then imported it into gmail via POP3, worked, preserving dates, even the to: when I had a different email address.

  112. By the way, does anyone know about a way to transfer mail from Hotmail to Gmail? A friend needs to do so but I couldn’t find a way, as Hotmail does not currently offer POP3 access for free.

    Thanks, in advance.

  113. I have the same problem with Yahoo. I want to transfer all my old archived emails from Yahoo into Gmail, but I didn’t pay the required fee that Yahoo charges to be able to use POP3. Is it possible to transfer emails from Yahoo and/or Hotmail to Gmail without having POP on the old account?

  114. Hey.. Now that gmail has enabled imap, is there anyway to make this process less painful?
    I look forward to seeing an updated method! Thanks!

  115. Also, it seems that your method works for destop-based email. How do I modify your method such that I can move my mail from yahoo and hotmail (both free versions) to gmail?
    Many thanks!

  116. هل موجود عندكم ماسنجر على الجيمايل وكيف تفعيله

  117. Question: I’ve given my MX records to google, what i’m trying to figure out is how do I set up IMAP with Outlook 2003? The problem is all the instructions show using the ending but I’m still using my email address so what do i use in the incoming and outgoing message server etc….

  118. there is no move option in the gmail. if we choose more actions the folder is having the mail. but if we delete the mail in the inbox, the same mail in the label also deleted.

  119. I’ve set up email fetch to transfer my messages from one gmail account to another. I have about 5000 conversations to be transfered, so far it has transfered about 1500. I started the process yesterday morning and today (afternoon now) it hasn’t fetched any emails, except for a couple new mails that arrived on that account. I read this entire post and comments and I assume the process is slow, but is fetching nearly 0 emails in almost one day normal?

  120. Dear Sirs,
    Thank You so much for teaching me. All the younger people I know that understand these computers, won’t help me in the least. That includes my daughter who is 17 years old. My only training was with keypunch machines sorters, then plug into Penn State Coledge via telephone, to see if your program worked.(I was at Clarion State Coledge at the time, which they did not own a computer.I am now Physically disabled, and I want to learn this machine so much. You are giving me my only means of learning. Thank you so much for making it available to me. Any learning information you can send me will very much and gratefully appreciated.
    John Thorwart ((Dell Dimension 3000, DSL connection, 512mg Ram, 160GB hard drive. First email Mozilla Thunderbird(still have as default, But mainly use gmail since I was invited to try it out. Hope to make it my default server. Windows XP Pro, Have small HP reloaded with Windows XP Pro in the closet. Hope to learn enough to connect it to this Dell machine.Question: what is the best way or the best school(in your opinion) to learn how to work and navigate this computer?

  121. To those above looking to import mail into Gmail from another account, Hotmail/Windows Live Mail for example, use the Windows Live Mail application, set up your Hotmail/Live Mail account and then set up your Gmail IMAP account and simply drag and drop the messages from one inbox to another and you’re good as gold.

  122. Yes, that’s the reason why I am sending readers to a new, simplified guide in the update section above (1st paragraph).

  123. how can i log in my gmail account on windows live messenger for having a chat?

  124. Hello,

    I’m using the Gmail mail-fetcher to copy a Gmail account into another Gmail account, but some mails are missing. I use Thunderbird and IMAP to count the number of mails in each account.

    Do you have a solution?

    Thank you


  125. I actually use Gmail now for my current project. But, I believe for security and monitoring reasons, have been told to archive locally as well.

    Just one question here and someone may have answered this elsewhere but:

    I need a way to create a local repository of all my gmail emails. You mentioned in your story to use Outlook. I have a few issues with that:

    1) Can the outlook repository be accessed without the outlook software? Is there any way of storing a repository locally without reliance on any particular software suite or open source software suite?

    2) Outlook is relatively unsecure isn’t it? How safe would it be to copy sensitive emails from Gmail to Outlook?

    3) What’s the procedure for it? Do you have a details story of how to do it or is it DIY simple?

    4) Does the copy process preserve date timestamps?

    If you can answer any or all of these questions, please let me know!

  126. Gmail supports IMAP now…
    1) enable it in Gmail’s settings
    2) add the Gmail IMAP account to the Outlook client as a new account…
    3) drag and drop your existing emails into the Gmail account

    Messages show up in gmail with the original date, sender, etc.

    I’ve moved 2GB of mail over this way, needless to say – do it overnight!

  127. Chris, you’re right… just read the update in the first paragraph:-)

  128. Hi this is muneer i have crossed the limitation of 99% at gmail, so my old mails are very important i need to archieve and to import in to my pc some safety folder then i have retrieve that folders with mail how could be do ? pls let me know immediately.

  129. Is there a limit to the number of accounts you can import to Gmail? I’m trying to archive the contents of 9 pop boxes. The first 5 came in, but the last 4 gave me “This account cannot be imported right now. Please try again later.” It’s been three days, and still no change.

  130. Hi Zoli,

    This is my first time on your blog. It’s fine but could you move the floating ‘contact/sitemap/home’ buttons further to the left…they are obscuring the text in your main post. Very very annoying when they cover up what I’m trying to read. (I’m in Google Chrome.)



  131. Hi Bud,

    Thanks for pointing this out. They used to be outside the white area, have not even noticed when they got messed up. They also are part of the theme I am using and have no clue how to fix them – I will either upgrade to the latest theme release or go for an entirely new one.

  132. Its a great method of gmail account. Thanks for give this type of information. <a hrfe=""&gt; Health Technician Resume is there in which is Fantastic.

  133. Hi all,

    I have a yahoo mail plus acc & thousands of emails in different folders. I just realized that yahoo doesn't have IMAP access. Is there anybody who could help in how could I import those folders with its contents to Mozilla Thunderbird?


  134. The easiest way to do this right now is using MigrationBox:

  135. By following the above steps, now its very easy to import gamil contacts. Thanks for sharing this useful post! Chat Line Phone Chat

  136. "Nice Artical…
    Being developer I would like to share another utility tool for moving email more easy and efficient way. this tool known as Beyond Inbox.
    You can ""Copy"" or ""Move"" email to a different destination account using Beyond Inbox. This can be a great feature while migrating your email from one to another email service. In that case, you can transfer all of your email to the new email account.for more detail.

  137. thank you. i will spend my next weekend, backing up my mails…

  138. Hi,
    Is there a way to import only the emails in the last 6 months or a year? Here's the problem. I have an aol account that has 20,000 emails. Over the years I've sorted them into about 200 folders (224 to be exact). Now I want to start using google apps but if I import the emails, the folders in aol wouldn't be imported (the emails in the folders will but all the emails would end up in Inbox in gmail). So I decided I want to import only the emails from the begining of this year to gmail. Is there a filter I can specify while importing the emails from aol?

  139. Hi, I am one of developer team member. You can also check out my very own simple tool for organize your inbox known as Beyond Inbox. Using Beyond Inbox you can not only Backup mails but also transfer emails from one account to another account and Restore the back up emails. It is also provide Incremental backup plan,which provide facilitates the users to download newly arrived mails after last back up.You can run this application on Windows, Linux as well as on Mac Os.

  140. I am trying to fetch my old emails from a gmail account to a new gmail account and have experienced a time out of sorts and stumbled upon your blog in trying to resolve. Do you have any tips? It was fetching emails every 6 minutes and has stopped. I tried changing my password on old gmail and re-entering info in POP settings in new gmail and still nothing. Any suggestions!? Thanks in advance!


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