Friday, December 15, 2006

Gmail account consolidation

I've finally tired of checking multiple Gmail accounts, so I sat down to figure out how to get all of my mail coming to a single, master Gmail address -- there are multiple parts to this tutorial, so I apologize for the length.

FIRST -- set up forwarding in the account you want to stop logging into:

  • Log into the Gmail account you want to stop logging into

  • Click "Settings" in the upper right

  • Click "Forwarding and Pop"

  • Click the radio button next to "Forward a copy of incoming mail to . . ."

  • Enter the address that you want the mail to be sent to in the box that says "email address"

  • From the drop-down, decide what you want done with the forwarded mail -- in my case, I selected "delete Gmail's copy" so that no new mail will be added to the account

  • Decide if you want to do the Optional Pop part below, if not, click "Save Changes"

OPTIONAL POP (totally optional) -- set up POP access to get any saved mail out of the account you no longer want to log into and into the single account you plan on using

  • Click the radio button next to "Enable POP for all mail (even mail that's already been downloaded)"

  • Select from the drop-down what you want done with mail that is accessed via POP -- in my case I selected "delete Gmail's copy" so that once all of the old mail is extracted via POP, it is deleted from the account I'm no longer logging in to

  • Click "Save Changes"

SECOND (optional) -- configure your master Gmail account to allow you to respond to e-mails with the address from the account you will no longer log into.  If you have no desire to continue to use the address of the account you are no longer logging into in your replies, but still want mail forwarded from said account, you can skip this step.

  • Log in to the master Gmail account

  • Click "Settings" in the upper right

  • Click "Accounts"

  • Click "Add Another E-Mail Address" -- this will trigger a pop-up window

  • Enter your name as you wish it to be seen by recipients and the e-mail address of the account you are no longer logging into

  • Click "Next Step" -- this will trigger a verification number e-mail to be sent to the e-mail address of the account you are no longer logging in to and change the pop-up screen to an entry screen for the verification number

  • Leave the pop-up screen open and click "Inbox" in the Gmail screen -- if you have configured forwarding correctly, then the confirmation e-mail should be in your Inbox

  • Click the e-mail from Gmail to open it

  • Select the verification number and copy it

  • Go back to the pop-up window and paste the verification number into the "Verification Number" field

  • Click "Next Step" -- the pop-up window will close and you will be left at the Inbox view

  • Click "Settings"

  • Click "Accounts" -- if everything went through correctly, then you will now see another e-mail address listed from the account you are no longer logging into

  • I suggest checking the radio button next to "Reply from the same address the message was sent to.", which will cause Gmail to automatically use the address that the e-mail was sent to when replying.

OPTIONAL OLD E-MAIL IMPORT (totally optional continuation of the Optional POP above) -- this will allow you to pull out all the e-mail saved in the account that you no longer wish to log into and load them into your master Gmail account.  Note that many of these instructions are duplicated from my original post on how to get e-mail out of Ureach and into Gmail.  Further note that these instructions are for Windows.  I would not suggest attempting this process on a dial-up connection and have only tested on broadband.

  •  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

  • Maximize Thunderbird  and follow the Google Instructions to configure it for the account that you no longer want to log into.

  • Once Thunderbird is configured, click "Get Mail" -- if everything is configured  correctly, Thunderbird will download all of the mail from the account you no longer want to log in to

  • 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 master 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” -- Note that if you have a problem with the address that's in there, click the "MX lookup for Gmail" link jsut below the box and enter one of the results that comes up in the browser

  • The “Progress” box will let you know about any errors, when everything is complete, etc.

  • 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.

All of the processes and steps listed on this page can be used for forwarding multiple Gmail addresses to a single, master Gmail account; at the time of writing this post, I have 2 Gmail addresses forwarding and incorporated into a single, master account.

It is my hope and I have heard rumors that Gmail is adding POP access support to Gmail accounts so that the vast majority of whole Thunderbird and gExodus process described above becomes obsolete.

As usual, use all the stuff in this post at your own risk and your mileage may vary -- I'm always happy to help with questions.

Good luck! 


Thomas Foster said...

Just wanted to say thanks! I was looking all over for a way to do this and your technique worked like a charm.

Ross said...

My pleasure. I'll actually be posting some instructions in the next week or so on how to eliminate the use of Gexodus from the process and preserve the original dates on your e-mails when you populate them back into Gmail.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the instructions! Simple enough, but I never would have figured it out on my own.

You rock! I included a kudos to you in my blog.

calavera said...

did you forget to post your instructions on how to preserve the original dates? Or did you just never figure it out, so, embarrassed, you just don't approve comments that ask about it?

Ross said...


I moderate my comments due to comment spam and I publish any comment provided that it is not a blatant advertisement and it is applicable to the original post.

The reason that I have not published a method to preserve the original dates is because the method that I originally thought would work does not -- another person that read this post was interested enough to try it out for me. Here's what it consists of:

# Download Thunderbird ( )

# Download the Mailredirect extension for Thunderbird (

# Config your Gmail account to allow all your messages to be retrieved via POP

# Launch Thunderbird and install the Mailredirect extension (Tools -> Extensions -> Install)

# Restart Thunderbird and config it to access Gmail via POP (you'll also need to add the SMTP settings)

# POP into your Gmail account and retrieve all of your messages

# Select all of the messages and then select Mailredirect from the "Messages" menu

# Input the address you want the e-mails redirected to, and if everything works correctly, all of the mail should be sent to your Gmail account with all of the original information, including the dates, intact; there also should be no "FWD:" appended to the messages as the Mailredirect app is performing a straight bounce operation.

The problem with the method described above is that you get exactly the same result as you do with the Gexodus solution: Gmail tags each message with the date and time that it is received into the Gmail system and does not preserve the original date.

At this point, the only method for retaining the original date is to use the Gmail Mail Fetcher feature (

Mail Fetcher is great provided that you have POP access to the account from which you want to pull the e-mails. Unfortunately in many Exchange environments administrators do not allow POP access for security reasons, so if you are in that particular situation, you may not be able to preserve the original dates.

I'll continue to search for a solution that allows the population of e-mail into a Gmail account that preserves the original date, but at this point the only solution that I've found is Mail Fetcher.

Good luck!


calavera said...

I apologize for the harshness of my comment, as at the time I posted it I was quite frustrated (and maybe a little tipsy :P). Anyways, I found this post on askmetafilter (through that looks promising, though I haven't had a chance to try it out yet. At the moment I have all my emails from my old gmail account just incubating in thunderbird, so I hopefully will get around to doing this over the weekend.

How do you get mail in "mbox" fomat into Gmail via pop?

Ross said...

No worries.

The only other method that I've been able to think of would be to get all of the e-mail into .msg files and use one of those Gmail hard drive applications to load them into the Gmail account. This presumes that Gmail would be able to easily read and understand the .msg file, which the link you provided seems to suggest. Furthermore, this assumes that the virtual hard drive software doesn't do anything goofy to the files that you upload.

Obviously I haven't had a chance to even try to test this solution, but I do know that gDisk is the popular Mac client and Gmail Drive is the popular Windows client. Actually, after doing a little searching there is actually a Thunderbird add-on that provides many of the same features of the aforementioned pieces of software, which might facilitate dragging and dropping individual e-mails.

My guess would be that the virtual disk software uses some sort of unique sender ID for each file (evidenced by the fact that all of the software providers suggest making a filter) and puts metadata into the subject line in order to create the file system.

It seems like someone that understands enough about how to load non-email into Gmail to use it as a hard drive could figure out a way to load in compatible single message files, but that person is not me.


calavera said...

I set up a mailtraq server on my machine this weekend. After doing an import of my thunderbird mbox into mailtraq, I was able to add the mailbox as a pop account to check through the gmail settings, and over the weekend gmail periodically downloaded 200 messages at a time from my server. All the timestamps are perfect and even the sent mail is sorted into the correct folder. Thanks for your guide!

Ross said...

That's pretty interesting. You wouldn't be interested in sharing some more detailed instructions on how you got Mailtraq to work, would you?

Let me know.


Charlie said...

Please let me know how you did this! I have set up mailtraq.

Importing mbox messages was very easy! just select:
Tools->Message Import Wizard
and it goes.

I started the pop service running and tested thunderbird to be sure it worked. No problems there.

I turned windows firewall off, and set the port forwarding on my router to map port 110 to my pc.

Then I tried pointing Gmail's Mail Fetcher at my IP address (my network operates through my router's IP, so that's what I used for the POP server address), port 110, and the name and password I set in mailtraq.

Mail Fetcher just comes back with, "There was a problem connecting to" (last digits removed)

A link underneath reads "Show Error Details"; clicking it replaces it with the text:
Server returned error: "Connection timed out"

That's all gmail will tell me about the problem. Is there something I forgot to do? Anyone with an knack for network setup know what to do here?

... said...

At this point, the only method for retaining the original date is to use the Gmail Mail Fetcher feature (

Mail Fetcher is great provided that you have POP access to the account from which you want to pull the e-mails.

If you have the mails on your own computer, can't you set up a POP server and have Mail Fetcher download them from that?

Ross said...

Yes, absolutely -- see the instructions here about how to use MailTraq to set up a POP server. Basically you can use whatever software you can get your hands on to set up a POP server and use Mail Fetcher to retrieve the e-mail to keep all of the date and time information intact. Bear in mind that Gmail only retrieves e-mails via POP in groups of 200, so you'll need to ensure that your domain remains the same (depending on the number of e-mails you are POPing in) -- you may want to consider using no-ip.