Type, monkey, type! Monkey Time! If you have been following my plight with Gmail as set down in my Getting Email out of Gmail article, you know I’ve been having a frustrating time trying to figure out how to get my Gmail out of one Gmail account and re-directed into another one in a simple, one-step, seamless merge.

I am disappointed to write there was no single-step solution.

I had to do it the old fashioned way with my monkey fingers on my monkey keyboard!

Here’s how I did it using Gmail and Apple Mail.

The solution was a mix of all the excellent advice I curried in my original article.

The first thing you need to do is log in to the Gmail account from which you wish to pull down your mail and then go to SETTINGS and then FORWARDING AND POP and ENABLE POP. That means you can download all your Gmail into a separate email program.

Monkey Time!

The next thing you need to do is set up your email client to download all your POP messages from Gmail. Monkey Time!I used Apple Mail and there are instructions how to set up your mail client right there on the Gmail page where you enable POP.

After you have downloaded all your email into your mail program — mine took over an hour because I had 10,000 messages and Gmail will only let you pull 300 messages at a time — make sure you go through all your downloaded email and delete the stuff you don’t want to re-direct like “Word of the Day” or outdated services notices or other junky email you didn’t mind keeping before but now need to prune to save re-directing time and your monkey fingers.

Now that all your email is downloaded and pruned, you need to start the long and awful process of re-directing your mail from your local mail program into your new Gmail account/Google Apps for your Domain account.

In Apple Mail you can do this by creating a Rule in your Preferences to re-direct selected messages in your Gmail account and I set mine up to look like this:

Monkey Time!

Once you have the rule enabled and saved, you go back to your message view in Apple Mail and select between 150 and 300 messages for re-directing and then choosing MESSAGE and then APPLY RULES from the pull down sticky menu.

That will start the invisible process of re-directing your mail into your new Gmail account. You can have your Gmail account open while the re-direct is happening and you will begin to see the email start pouring into your new account. If you use Google Notifier, turn it off or you’ll get tons of Growl messages telling you how much new email you already know you have.

You want to re-direct instead of forward in order to preserve the original sender for your messages. Your re-directed messages will not reflect the absolute day and time the original message was sent in the overall Gmail view – it will reflect the re-direct date and time — but when you open each message proper the original time and date are preserved. Date and time are not that important to me because when I search my old mail I search by people and key words and not dates and times.

WARNING: I have lots of email accounts with excellent SMTP servers. I pay for them. I have access to several SMTP servers and I switched between them as I re-directed my local Gmail into my new Gmail account. That meant I had to switch SMTP servers throughout the night. One of my best and fastest and most favorite SMTP servers sent me this note of warning you should heed as well:

Your usage of the service is approaching levels which will trigger automated disabling of your account or automatic blocking of your email address. This message is only for your information, and NO ACTION HAS BEEN TAKEN.We are sending you this to help you in ensuring that you do not experience any problems, and to give you an early warning in case you are unaware that your account is currently being heavily used. To understand the limit you have reached, please see our pricing table (click the ‘FAQ’ link on the web site) where you can find the limits of each account level. Email address/account: boles@xxxxxx Items: 2000 messages in one hour

This warning has been generated because you have received or sent many emails (or sent to many recipients) in a short time. We limit hourly quotas to protect users from email abuse, and to stop spammers using our service. If you need any help with avoiding this happening in the future, please let us know and we will help however we can. You may get this warning when you tell all your friends your new email address and send emails to many recipients in a short period of time. To avoid this, spread the emails out over a couple of hours, or upgrade your account to increase your hourly quota. Please email us if you have any questions regarding this issue.

I had no idea I had sent 2,000 messages in an hour! I’m surprised they didn’t cut me off and grateful they didn’t. I guess you get to 2,000 messages pretty quickly sending batches of 300 messages at a time. I then switched SMTP servers more regularly and took more breaks in re-directing my 10,000 messages. When the re-directed mail arrived at my hosted Gmail account, I would immediately MARK ALL READ and then ARCHIVE all the mail. That worked really well and Gmail handled the load pretty well.

I even used the Gmail SMTP server to get started. I redirected 330 emails that way and then stopped because I heard Gmail itself will shut you down for a day or three if you send 350-500 emails in a day. I never received any warnings from Gmail either sending or receiving. Verizon’s SMTP server did cut me off at one point, though. I didn’t realize what had happened until my last Verizon batch never showed up in my Gmail account. That was the only glitch of the night. It took six hours from start to finish to pull and re-direct all my email from one Gmail account into another one.

There must be a simpler way! You MUST NOT set up a Mail Rule to automatically redirect your Gmail from one account into another without your intervention because, if you have over 500 messages to process, Gmail will cut you off or your SMTP server will shut you down as a Spammer. You have to select and send messages with your own monkey hands and your own hairy ape fingers if you don’t want any trouble.

Once you have all your mail re-directed into your new Gmail account, use the search box to search your mail using these terms: “has:attachment” will give you a list of messages that have attachments so you can remove messages with big attachments that you don’t need any more to save storage space. You may also narrow down that search to “has:attachment from:me label:sent” that will show messages YOU sent with attachments.

You may search for more specific attachments by using “filename:pdf” or “filename:xls” to bring up more specific attachment types. You may make them even more specific by using “filename:pdf label:sent” or “filename:xls label:sent”. Welp… it only took me six hours, but I did it! I redirected 10,000 messages from one Gmail account to another! Dance, monkey, dance!

Monkey Time!


  1. Hi David,
    Thanks for bringing up the point about having to possibily pay for SMTP email. For the free SMTP I have with my email accounts, I get 250 daily messages before I have to consider paying for some sort of package.
    Of course, I never send out more than a handful of email messages a day from my personal accounts, so it isn’t an issue. It would be, however, an issue if I had to move 10,000 old email messages via SMTP.
    If people wanted to save their information and have it available online without having to upgrade their SMTP service, they might want to check into a service that would provide a secure and encrypted place on the web where they could FTP their files for backup and remote access as an alternative.
    Of course, that wouldn’t provide the same functionality as having the mail already in Gmail, but it would be an easy way to park all of the files for remote access on the web.

  2. Another warning.
    I looked at the web and note that my 250 SMTP relays per day that come with my domain name registrations is a good deal. I have over 20 domain names registered for various purposes so I have the potential of being able to relay 5000 messages per day, if I wanted.
    Another service is charging $186.99 per year for up to 600 SMTP relays per day!
    Since my SMTP relay comes with my domain name registration, I realize that I have a pretty good deal as most of my registrations have been around $8/per year for each domain name.
    Having the capacity to relay tons of email could get expensive — check with your providers before trying to send out lots of mail.

  3. Hi Chris —
    There are excellent email-only providers like Fastmail.fm that will give you top-notch email service, including SMTP access for an affordable price even at their top-tier level. I also used a mixture of my .Mac accounts, Verizon, PoBox, Fastmail, Gmail and a couple other accounts to move all those messages.
    The key, I learned, was to send around 150 messages per shot and to wait a few minutes between sends and never more than 500 in one “session” with a single SMTP server. It was six hours of babysitting all those accounts on all sides.

  4. Chris —
    Yes, you are right that SMTP can quickly get expensive! The problem is you can never really pin down how many SMTP messages are allowed by an ISP or a hosting service because they don’t want you maxing out their servers so they prefer you not know. You only find out when it’s too late and they lock you down for three days.
    That’s why IMAP is so great. You don’t go through an SMTP server. You only worry about bandwidth use. You can select all messages to move or copy and go out for dinner and come back and find everything has been done for you.
    IMAP is server intense and most ISPs don’t want you storing all that mail on their servers so IMAP, the best mail protocol, is being phased out or severely limited on most mainstream accounts. That’s a sad thing.
    ISPs and hosting services love POP because all the messages are stored on your computer and not their servers.

  5. Oh, and the great thing about having all your mail in Gmail is the ability to search your mail using Google technology. You get really precise results immediately. It’s worth the effort to move the mail!

  6. I forgot to mention I set up my mail re-direct rule before I started to pull down my Gmail and that got ugly fast as I realized my 10,000 messages were being re-directed automatically in real time and I was using the Gmail SMTP server to do it! Ooof!
    I immediately took everything offline. I unchecked my Mail Rule for re-directing. I love it that Apple Mail allows re-directing of messages as part of the program. The only program on Windows that used to do that natively since its birth was Eudora Mail.
    I went back online and Apple Mail began to pull 300 messages from my Gmail account at a time without performing an auto-re-direct. Swhew!

  7. Maybe that’s why everything stays in beta. They’re too busy eating bananas and filling their cheeks with nuts.

  8. I think you’ve stumbled upon a universal truth, Barry! Now let’s hope the Google circus soon comes home to roost, starts charging us real treats for services, and then we can all get on the ark together!

  9. Thanks, Barry! I, too, wish I had a clear tutorial on how to do this. I spent several days looking for bits and pieces to stick together to get it all to work.

  10. Hi David
    Glad to hear you got everything transferred!
    Sounds like you found a good solution, since many others would have caused SMTP issues. The 6 hours is probably a small price to pay considering the volume you were talking about.
    By the way, Google Desktop can allow you to sort through your email even in Outlook, and also search files on your hard drive. I expect you’ve already tried it? I use it to search email at work, and it’s the only way I can find really old email!

  11. fruey —
    Yes, six hours was time well spent, I suppose. I wish Gmail allowed you to merge accounts. With their new Google Apps for Your Domain setup, I think they will be required to offer that option because people want their Google all in once place and not split between purposes.
    I was especially happy my Gmail account didn’t complain about *getting* 10,000 messages in 6 hours — that averages about 28 messages a minute! I’ve heard of people getting their Gmail account shut down because of heavy message inflow volume.
    If Google looked at my account, though, they would have seen I was online and marking and archiving messages as soon as they arrived — so they would have known I was aware of the flood and was cleaning it up quickly and that the flood was on purpose and done with my knowledge.
    Google Desktop is not available for Macs.

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