In a previous post, I described two methods of moving almost 15 years of email into GMail.
I now have a newer, MUCH FASTER method, which eliminates having to go into Google and create labels and adjust the account preferences at each import… using nothing but Gmail and Thunderbird.
- Download yourself a shiny new copy of Mozilla Thunderbird and install it.
- Download a copy of the Remove Duplicate Messages add-on and install that, then follow my instructions for removing duplicate emails.
- Add your local IMAP account to Thunderbird, and verify that it works
- Go through your folders and remove any of the duplicate email messages using the add-on above.
- Add your GMail account to Thunderbird. Make sure your GMail account is IMAP enabled in your GMail settings (Settings -> Forwarding and POP/IMAP -> IMAP Access -> Enable IMAP). Verify that you can see your GMail email via Thunderbird.
- Drag your local IMAP folders one-by-one into the Inbox of your GMail account in Thunderbird. Literally drag and drop the FOLDERS into your GMail Inbox. Don’t drag the messages, drag the entire folder.
What you should see, is that you will be creating folders under the Inbox in your GMail account in Thunderbird, and when you log into GMail, you will now see new labels for each IMAP folder you just dragged in there.
For example, if you dragged a folder called “Taxes” into your GMail folder, you will now have a label in GMail’s web interface called ‘INBOX/Taxes’. GMail applies the ‘INBOX’ prefix to the folder name and creates a label with that name.
From here, once you get all of your email into GMail, you can select ‘Edit Labels‘ in the left column of GMail and rename/delete those labels to suit your own personal preferences.
The benefits here are:
- MUCH faster than having Google fetch your email using pop3
- Auto-creates labels for you on the fly. Want a new label? Rename your local folder before you drag it over.
- No need to set up additional accounts inside Google to pull from
- Preserves dates and times of the original messages, including threading
I’ve imported hundreds of emails in the time it has taken me to write this post. Using the other methods, I would get 200 emails pulled over in about an hour. The older methods were S-L-O-W.