Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Transfer e-mails from uReach to Gmail

I could not find a cohesive set of instructions on how to transfer e-mail from uReach to Gmail, so after figuring out how to do it myself, I’m posting the full primer.  All of the following instructions involve using a machine running Windows XP SP2 — I’m sure there are ways to do this with other operating systems and earlier versions of Windows might work exactly the same way; I’m just telling you what I used as your mileage may vary.

The following instructions assume you have a uReach account that you want to transfer mail from and a Gmail account that you want to transfer e-mails to.


  • Be sure the computer you are using has WinZip.  If for some reason it doesn’t, download it and install it — I suggest that you install it in Classic Mode.
  • Download gExodus.  Once done, you will have a zip file — be sure to use the WinZip Extract button instead of dragging and dropping the files out of the archive.  The first time I installed, I did a drag and drop and the program could not find the Python dll file.  Once you have extracted to whatever folder you have chosen, go ahead and double-click the gExodus exe file to make sure it works.  Keep gExodus minimized throughout this process until I call for it in the instructions.
  • Download and install Thunderbird.  Once installation is done, launch Thunderbird and cancel out of the wizards.  Unless you are going to continue to use Thunderbird, there is no reason to waste time filling in any information.  Keep Thunderbird minimized throughout this process until I call for it in the instructions.
  • Make sure there’s a copy of Outlook Express installed on the machine that you are using.  Open Outlook Express and cancel out of all the wizards unless you plan on continuing to use Outlook Express.  Keep Outlook Express minimized throughout this process until I call for it in the instructions.
  • You need to be using a broadband connection to make this process easy.  I cannot speak to how easy or hard this process would be if you are using dial-up; go sit in Starbucks if you have to.

uReach E-Mail Extraction

  • Log into uReach
  • Click “Message Center” on the left side
  • Click “All” under the “Message Folders” subheading on the left side
  • Each one of your various folders will appear
  • Click the radio button next to the folder you want to archive
  • Click the “Archive” button
  • Follow the instructions in the pop-up window to save the archive to your desktop
  • Be sure to archive each folder — Inbox, Sent, Saved, and any other folders that you have created by repeating the process above

Outlook Express E-Mail Import

  • Maximize Outlook Express so that you can sell all of the message folders in the right-hand pane
  • Open the Inbox archive from uReach in WinZip
  • Select all of the files in WinZip
  • Drag and drop all of the .eml files from the archive into the Inbox in Outlook Express
  • Repeat this process for each of your archives.  Due to how Gmail works, I would suggest consolidate all non-Sent items into the Inbox.
  • Close Outlook Express

Thunderbird E-Mail Import

  • Maximize Thunderbird
  • Go to the “Tools” menu
  • Select “Import”
  • Click the radio button next to “Mail”
  • Click “Next”
  • Select “Outlook Express” and click “Next”
  • Once the process is done, you will see a subfolder under “Local Folders” labeled “Outlook Express” with all of the items that you transferred into Outlook Express from the uReach archives.  Note that all items will show up as unread (i.e., there will be a number next to “Inbox”, which is a good error checking mechanism if you were paying attention to how many items you archived from uReach)
  • Close Thunderbird

gExodus transfer to Gmail

  • The most important thing to do is to located where the Thunderbird mail files are on your computer.  In order to do this, you must have invisible files and folders activated in your Windows view options and you should have the hidden file extension option de-selected (Google this if you don’t know what I’m talk about).  I highly suggest locating the folder before using gExodus, but it depends on your level of comfort.  The files are located here:
    • C:\Documents and Settings\xxxx\Application Data\Thunderbird\Profiles\xxxx.default\Mail\Local Folders\Outlook Express Mail.sbd
    • Note that the red letters represent items that will be unique to your system.
    • Note that there will be a regular version of a file and a .msf version of the same file in the folder (i.e., “Inbox” and “Inbox.msf”)
  • Maximize gExodus
  • Under “Account Setting” enter your Gmail address
  • Under “Import From” either paste in the path from your Explorer window or click the “Browse” button and navigate to the file that you want to import.  Note that you should select the file that does not have the .msf extension (i.e., “Inbox”)
  • Under “Label”, you can add a label if you really want to, but read the example below the box — I did not use this when I did my imports.
  • Leave the “SMTP server” alone and click “Import into Gmail”
  • The “Progress” box will let you know about any errors, when everything is complete, etc.
  • Repeat this process for all files you want to import into Gmail

Here’s what you need to know about gExodus:

  • gExodus essentially forwards all of the e-mails in the file you have decided to import into your Gmail account — while the To and From information is retained, the date information that shows up in Gmail will be the date and time the you run gExodus; there is no way that I could find to fix this issue.
  • Every e-mail shows up in Gmail as an unread e-mail, so you will need to do a select all on every page and mark every e-mail as read.
  • Gmail is smart enough to organize everything into conversations, however, mail from you in uReach will not show up as from “me” like conversation originating in Gmail do when you are sending mail from your Gmail account.

If you have any questions, feel free to let me know and I’ll do my best to help.  I accept no responsibility at all if something gets screwed up by your trying to follow these instructions; it’s obviously a complex process — you should feel good about the fact that, unless you delete the e-mails from your uReach account, uReach does not immediately delete items in your account during archiving.

Good luck and have fun.


Anonymous said...

I don't know how many people have responded to this FANTASTIC help that you have rendered to us. Let me assure you that I was able to use your help and was able to transfer most of UREACH e-mails to GMail intact.


Anonymous said...

I’ve been trying to use gExodus to move several thousand emails stored in several dozen mbox files to my gmail account. About half of the mboxes transferred successfully and about half stopped transferring after an apparently arbitrary number of emails.

After much frustration I eventually opened them in Thunderbird and found the problematic emails - it turned out that they were the emails with a blank Subject field. I opened up the mbox files in a text editor (BBEdit) and, with some creative find-replace work (regular expressions and line breaks were required for this), I managed to make sure each email that previously had either no “Subject:” field between the “To:” field and the “Date:” field or a blank “Subject:” field with minimal manual labor (be careful of emails with multiple recipients, it is easy to miss those with the find-replaces). The transfers then worked without a problem.

I hope that helps anyone who has had the same problem…