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How to move email from one Gmail account to another.

Gmail to GmailThere are a few different methods out there to move Gmail from one account to another and I’ve tried most.

The problem is that they all have some sort of requirement that makes them work for some people, but not all. Or maybe they get the email, but miss the labels. None seemed to work for everyone, all the time.

The good news is I found a way that should work for everyone using Mozilla’s Thunderbird.

To get started, download and install Thunderbird. It works on Mac, Window and Linux so everyone can take part.

Next, make sure IMAP is enabled in both of the Gmail accounts you’re working with. It doesn’t matter if they are free Gmail accounts or Gmail that’s tied to a domain name.

Once IMAP is activated, setup both accounts in Thunderbird and let Thunderbird fully download all the email in your current Gmail account. This could take some time depending on how much email you have.

After all your email has been downloaded, you can drag and drop your folders from one account to the other. Thunderbird will then copy the folders (aka labels) and all the emails in them to your new account.

With the inbox, sent, deleted, all mail and drafts, you’ll need to select all the emails in those folders, right-click, and copy them into the new account’s inbox, sent, deleted, all mail or drafts folders. Drag and drop won’t work for these folders as they are special folders.

Again, depending on how much email you have, this could take a while. I usually start it and then walk away. It’ll do it’s thing and by the time I get back hopefully it’s done.

Once all the email is moved over, give Thunderbird some time to ensure that all changes get re-synced back up online. The easiest thing to do here is to log into the new account online and see if all your mail is there.

And that’s it. You’ve now moved all your email from one Gmail account to another.

With this method, it doesn’t matter if you’re on a Mac, Windows or Linux computer. It doesn’t matter if it’s a free Gmail account or a Google apps account. It doesn’t matter how many labels you have or how you organize your email. It just works, or at least it did for me.

Ohh and if you need to move your Gmail filters from one account to another, check out the labs section of Gmail and enable the ‘Filter import/export’ functionality.

91 Responses

  1. rich says:

    Nice tip. Now if I could also find a way to move all of my Google Reader items to another account.

    • Thomas says:

      That’s an easy one. Go into Google Reader and under the settings you can export an OPML file. This file can then import into another Google Reader account. Done.

      • richrecruiter says:

        Yes, that will import my subscriptions. But it won’t bring over the massive database of things I’ve marked as read.

        • Sarah says:

          Thank you so much! This was really helpful!

        • Sourav Mohapatra says:

          I Have 13920 mail so its take more time. If I close this and how I I run the same in next day and from where it will start? Please clarify the same.

          • Thomas says:

            Run it all at once. I wouln’t recommend starting and stopping it. Let it go overnight or something like that.

  2. Adarsh says:

    You are one awesome man…Superb Tip…thank you so much….

  3. Elia says:

    If your on Linux your life just became easier, if your on any other platform just search for this program “EVOLUTION”, its very similar to Thunder but IMO better!

    This will allow you easily to copy any folder right to another folder in another email account you set up. Go try it.

  4. jhsin says:

    just want to thank you for posting this method.
    i just got a new gmail account today, and i’m able to move my old emails from old gmail account to this new one using your procedure.
    it’s convenient and way easier than other suggestions i’ve found via googling.
    thank you for sharing!

  5. Armin says:

    I want to transfer my large emails from one gmail account to another one (or to yahoo mail).I think the method that uses thunderbird with IMAP enabled gmail, downloads all selected messages and then upload to new account and It takes too long for me to copy just 3 emails. so it’s not a real on the fly move/copy action. I have more than 400 emails larger that 5 MB!
    I have labeled all large emails but I don’t know how can I transfer them to new account! I had try different ways.
    I don’t want to use gmail fetcher because it ignores labels.
    I have more than 11000 emails in 38 Folder (label)

    • mikisi says:

      There is a much easier way….. Just few steps:
      1) Open a new Hotmail account.
      2) Set there to ‘Send/Receive’ from your old Gmail account (this is how Hotmail refers to ‘import’)
      3) Set your new Gmail account to Import from the Hotmail account.

      That’s all. 🙂 5 mins work. You can logout and shut off your computer.

  6. Robert says:

    does this method allow you to preserve your labels you created with your first gmail account? and migrate to the new gmail account? I don’t want to lose those

  7. chris says:

    This is a FAIL for emails that have more than one label applied. 🙁 Thus a total fail for me.

    • Thomas says:

      Why does it not work for emails with more than one label? I didn’t have that issue.

    • Sandro Tosi says:

      I’ve just tried and it works as a charm with multi-label emails: just copy all the folders (aka gmail labels) and you’ll find the emails perfectly flagged

    • solak says:

      The declaration of failure is because the IMAP API considers a message that’s in two folders to be two copies of the message, not one message with two labels. Moving email this way will duplicate the message and each copy will have only one label each rather than one message having two labels.

  8. christina says:

    worked great! thank you!

  9. Dina says:

    Thank you SO much. This worked amazingly well and I am NOT a techie 🙂 I searched a ton online and this was the only way I could find to only transfer some emails from one account to another instead of all emails. Thanks again!

  10. joe says:

    thank you for taking the time to write this. you have saved me much grief and stress in working out how to do this with your clear, easy to understand instructions. If everyone did one little thing like this in society to make other peoples lives easier, what an amazing place it would be.
    Joe :0)

  11. Helena says:

    Thank you so much for posting this!!! I’ve tried everything to transfer and everything failed. I was at the point of transfer all my emails to outlook and then was going to transfer back to my new gmail account, and then setting up my files which would taken forever when I came across this website. You saved my day and my TIME!!!

  12. Nicole says:

    This isn’t working for me and I’m running out of time. I left a job that used gmail as their email client (but not the address). I am unable to get 8 years worth of mail out. Any thoughts? My email is similar to [email protected] (and we used the gmail client). Help please!


  13. Mike says:

    so i love this post…it’s been very helpful….but for some reason i haven’t been able to move all my labels/folders

    thunderbird seems as if it’s stuck?

    i have moved like 50 folders from the original gmail account to the new account…but i have an additional 50 or so…and haven’t been able to move/copy them


    • Bob S says:

      This happened to me and I became un able to move folders into the top level directory, so far I have managed two work arounds ;-
      1) I check that folders have been fully copied completing the process for any sub folders if need be.
      2) migrated folders into the inbox and then editing the tags in GMail to delete the inbox reference.

  14. Jimmy says:

    Awesome! You’re a lifesaver.

  15. Chris says:

    Thanks. Some b@$7@rd f–k is stalking me and despite threatening a restraining order he won’t leave me alone. Just made a new email address and am transferring everything over now. So far, no problems =)

  16. Mike Gale says:

    Thanks a ton for this. Just migrated from one google apps account to another with different domain names, and this worked perfectly!

  17. Marc says:

    You are a God!! I am a complete layperson when it comes to stuff like this, but your instructions are clear and easy to follow. Although Its a bit time consuming sorting the folders out, and still a work in progress, so far so good.
    I am transferring some 30,000 emails from old Gmail account to new Google Apps Email addresses and this is the only solution which actually works.
    Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou

  18. Josh Curtis says:

    Thank you!!!! You are a life saver for this feature that silly Google is lacking.

  19. Denise Grech says:

    Thanks for this tip! A real life saver!

  20. Zachary Thomas says:

    I wish I could say this works for me — it seems to me that because my email is a school domain (is a gmail account managed by my school) no service seems to be able to export out all the mail (Thunderbird, for example, says it can’t locate the account’s settings, which then prompts me to configure the username and port and such, but I don’t know what to enter)… it’s a bit depressing given that I’m an outgoing senior and would like to keep all the mail I have on the account before the schools deletes it. -_-

    • Zachary Thomas says:

      Ok, after talking to School IT Services, problem solved: they gave me the right settings, basically by following this:


    • CJ says:

      I’m having this same problem. Is it seriously not possible to move all my email from a university gmail address to a free gmail address?

      • Zachary Thomas says:

        No, it’s definitely possible — check out the above link and/or your school’s Tech services to set you up.

        • Ayesha says:

          Thanks Zachary, that worked quite well for me. I had an acct through a school as well. I just went into the Thunderbird and after I began the add a new account sequence I went to manual config and entered what was on your website into Thunderbird then the magic began!

          Incoming Mail (POP3) Server – requires SSL:
          Use SSL: Yes
          Port: 995
          Outgoing Mail (SMTP) Server – requires TLS3 or SSL: (use authentication)
          Use Authentication: Yes
          Port for TLS/STARTTLS: 587
          Port for SSL: 465
          Account Name: your full email address (including or
          Email Address: your email address ([email protected] or
          Password: your Gmail password

  21. Aurelin says:

    Thank you for that Howto. It also works for any other IMAP-based e-mail. I’ve used it because I had to move all the mails to a new server (server migration…)

  22. Joel Worsley says:

    Thanks soo much worked perfectly ur a lifesaver

  23. Notisme2012 says:

    I don’t think it works with emails that is managed by a company. I had the same problem trying to transfer my old emails to my new email inbox.

  24. djk says:

    do you know of a way to transfer chats? it seems to be the only thing that isn’t working for me.

  25. Amy says:

    I really would like this to work for me but thunderbird wont recognize my user name and password and I’ve verified it like 5 times. How can I get this to work for me?

  26. kartsrin says:

    Thanks . Its indeed a very useful information . Appreciate your effort in sharing such tips.
    infact I had problems in configuring the thunderbird , later i realized it was my Symantec firewall that was blocking the IMAP . After disabling the FW , the thunderbird got connected to gmail and I was able to transfer the emails. This piece of info is very useful even to transfer/copy selective emails.
    thanks again.

  27. leo says:

    All went according to plan until i had to drop and drag the folders into the new account. it would not drop them after the drag. i am highlighting the new account that i want the folders to copy to but to no avail. should i be doing something specific when i do this. Thanks

    • leo says:

      i figured it out. needed to drop it into the original location folder name and not the account. Perfect thanks.!!!

  28. LizaP says:

    Sounds pretty clear to me, but my problem is not moving emails … it’s moving photo albums. I’ve got close to 100 of them and don’t know how to move them in one swoop to my new GMail account. Any ideas would be appreciated!

  29. Obi says:

    How do you add the second gmail account? I’m confused. Please help

  30. wes says:

    How do you drag and drop from one account to the other?

    • cm says:

      I am having a similar problem, the folders that i have dragged and dropped are not updating to my gmail account. and some of the manipulations on the gmail account are not recognized by thunderbird. is there something i can do to fix this?

  31. rj says:

    Does this method preserve the time stamp of the email? Or when you access the old email in the new account does it have the time it was dragged into the account instead of the time it was actually received/sent?

  32. brian says:

    After this is done will my emails still be there after I delete my old gmail account? Do I also need to keep thunderbird?

    • Thomas says:

      Once moved you don’t need the old account or Thunderbird as long as you are sure all the emails are in the new account.

  33. chad says:

    Thank you! Worked so smoothly I almost didn’t know what to do with myself!

  34. Michael says:

    Thank you so much! This was exactly what I was looking for! Perfect perfect perfect! You rock!

  35. jacquie says:

    Hey there.. My chat log wasn’t copied to Thunderbird. Is that not possible? Thanks!

    • Thomas says:

      Chat logs are just emails in the chat folder in Gmail. Did you copy that? Not sure if this method works with chat or not.

  36. jacquie says:

    I was actually able to copy drag and drop it in Thunderbird but when I access my gmail account on my pc or Ipad they aren’t all there.. There’s 2,300 of them and I can view them all on Thunderbird but only 700 are viewable when I log in on my PC or Ipad…

  37. bahman krdan says:

    Special thanks for this useful post.

  38. You are a genius. Please send me your address so I can mail you a present. ; ) You totally saved my ass… and my sanity. THANK YOU!!!

  39. Amir says:

    fantastic tip thanks
    what do I need to do to ensure that the email that has been copied across now resides here and does not pull from the gmail account as I want to delete the gmail account and use this as my default email pack

  40. Bec says:

    Thank you, thank you! This has been a life saver!

  41. Sandi says:

    Hi There

    How do you copy over calendar and contacts as well from gmail to gmail?

  42. Sandi says:

    Thanks Thomas – another question is that I have tried the above instructions however it seems that not all the emails had been fully downloaded before I tried to copy them over and the emails are not showing up in my new email account. Any tips? Can I do it again from the start?

    • Thomas says:

      You can try and start over. I’m not sure what Gmail will do when duplicate messages show up. Usually Gmail is pretty smart about something like that. For me, having duplicates is better than not having any.

  43. Tom says:

    Top Tip: When doing the folder to folder transfer in Thunderbird, turn OFF your email virus protection. Disable it, pause it for 60 minutes, whatever your AV product calls it. Speeds up the transfer considerably, depending on your AV.

  44. Matt Morgan says:

    That was really simple and easy. Thanks for sharing.

  45. Sujitha says:

    I wanted to migrate to a new gmail account. this is what i did. i created a new gmail account and imported all my mails from the old gmail account using the POP download option. It was successful. Gmail keeps checking my old account for new mails and gets it into my new account’s inbox automatically. Now i wish to compeletely delete my old gmail account. i will not be receiving any further mails to the account. shall i go ahead and delete the old account. since my new account is still connected to the old account will the mails that i imported and stored in my new inbox get deleted on deleting the old account? Or will the imported mails remain in my new inbox no matter what happens to the old account?

  46. Gmailer says:


    MAC OSX LION 10.7.5

  47. Nancy says:

    HI, thanks so much for the time it took to explain…however, I have another question. I have two gmail accounts I’ve transferred one of them to Thunderbird, and now I’m trying to transfer the 2nd one. But when I open Thunderbird, it brings up my 1st gmail account. I’m not sure how to begin to transfer the 2nd gmail account, without damaging the 1st one.
    Hopefully this is clear…
    Thanks again!

  48. TwistedManiac says:

    Thanks! Your ma savior. Saved me from a lot of headache.

  49. catdetector says:

    I followed these instructions to the letter, and now all of the messages that were more than two months old are GONE. From the original goddamned account too! It seems that the only messages that didn’t disappear were ones that were either labeled or sent by me. Yes, yes, I dragged all of the “All Mail” messages from the original folder to the new account’s folder, with all six hours of waiting that that took. And yes, they were all there before any of this happened. It was bad enough that these are not on the new account now, but now they are no longer in ANY account. They are completely lost. Almost ten years of important messages that I used to refer to. What in the WORLD is going on?

    • Thomas says:

      Sorry to hear that catdetector. As long as you’re using iMAP, there is no reason Google or Thunderbird should delete anything. I’m just as baffled as you and I’m really sorry to hear that.

      Try finding the Thunderbird folder on your local machine and see how big it is. If all the messages are in there, it should be pretty large.

  50. Bob S says:

    How does it handle emails with multiple labels? I’m mid process and wondering if I am creating a load of duplicates in various folders?

    Otherwise so easy I can’t believe it an be true!

  51. Ale says:

    If you only want to move a few messages and have an iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch it is very easy to just select the messages and move them from one account to another. Both accounts must be setup in the Mail app in order to be able to move them. Cheers

  52. LM says:

    I do not see the step-by-step instructions for utilizing Thunderbird to transfer folders from my former Gmail account to my new Gmail account. I have successfully downloaded the Thunderbird application but am not sure how to use to import my folders/labels and all included email messages into my new Gmail account. Help!!

  53. JohnParryJones says:

    Finally a rock solid method. Thanks, author.

  54. VJones says:

    Thank you! This is the first technique I could find that would allow me to only transfer some of my email, not all of them to a new email account. So far it is working well for me. My labels/folders transferred over although it nested some of my folders. That is an easy fix in gmail though to just transfer the contents of one folder into another folder and then delete the duplicated nested folder. Now I am just waiting for nearly 20,000 emails to transfer over but it is progressing well so far. Thanks again.

  55. Ian Self says:

    Hi Twistermc:

    I’ve followed the details you offer to migrate my old gmail files into my new primary gmail email and get this error message when I click to set that up:

    There was a problem connecting to

    Any ways to get this to work? I want to avoid sending each one by one and refiling if possible.
    Thanks for your time and consideration!


  56. dave says:

    great. thanks for this. i just finished copying all my mail to my new account using thunderbird. i tried first just selecting all mail in my old account and copying it to all mail in my new account but it kept failed after a few hours. so i tried copying 700 at a time and that seemed to work better!

  57. theveiledpearl says:

    I love the IT Magic! Thank you so much! =D
    I’ve been desperately looking for so many websites and each response could not get me through the final step until I followed your steps! Thunderbird is amazing!

  58. Holly says:

    I got married recently and have to change gmail accounts. I’m a bit of a techie and have still been SO frustrated by the lack of flexibility that gmail provides for migrating accounts. I tried to go the Pop3 route and it was like pulling teeth with error messages galore. I’m mid migration right now and it’s working like a dream. God bless you.

  59. Ivan says:

    I want to thank you for your directions for transferring from one gmail ( account to a new gmail account. I did a lot of searching and most of them did not give detailed enough information on how to do it.

    Your’s is straight forward and I’m still in the process of moving folders from one to another. I know it will take awhile but I feel more confident in what I’m doing.

    Thanks again for your help.


  60. BD says:

    Four years later and this was still the best way to do this. I only wanted to move a “folder” (label) or two from one gmail account to another and this method worked great for that.

    One problem I ran into is that I have 2FA one of my gmail accounts and so my password was not working in Thunderbird. I had to create a temporary password (application specific password is what Google calls it). Found out how to do that here:

    Regardless, thank you for this guide.

  61. cmagouirk says:

    I was skeptical because the instructions seemed so vague, but slap me silly if it didn’t work perfectly.

    Right click on the folder you want to transfer, go to properties then the synchronization tab, click the download button and wait a few minutes depending on the size of the folder, click okay when done and drag that sucker to another account.


  62. zamber8 says:

    When I move just one email by dragging in dropping from one account to another in Thunderbird it does move the email to the new folder however it also creates a copy of the message in the original account’s trash folder. So it isn’t actually moving the email but instead only copying it so now when I search I have 2 of the same email.

    In addition, when I view the trash folder of the original I see emails that are important but don’t feel comfortable permanently deleting until I go back and confirm they were indeed moved to the new folder. I’ve never had this problem as it has always truly “moved” the email however recently had to re-install and since it only copies. How can I get my old settings back?

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