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How to Switch Email Accounts Without Losing Emails

by on February 09, 2018
in Software & Games, Computers and Software, Productivity, Tips & How-Tos :: 15 comments

There are plenty of good reasons why you might want to change your email account. You want or need to change email providers, you hate your current email address or you’ve become inundated with spam.

However, switching email accounts can feel like a daunting task. Not only do you need to notify everybody of your new email address (including all of those sites where you’ve created accounts over the years), but there’s also the fear that you’ll miss an important email from a person or organization that you can’t afford to miss.

Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to make the change and not lose any emails in the process. Here’s how to do it.

1. Try to keep your old email address as long as possible

When switching accounts, you’ll want to hold onto your account for a little while to ensure the process has worked smoothly. If you’re switching jobs or leaving school, find out how long you’ll have access to your old email address before it’s deactivated and plan accordingly. Most organizations won’t let you access your account, but some may forward email for a length of time to your new account.

2. Create a new email address

Create an email address with a free provider like Gmail or Outlook.com. Do not use the email assigned by your internet service provider, company or school. When choosing your new email address, use your name or something that will age well over time. If you have a common name, try using your last name first or a combination of your initials and your last or first name.

Create Gmail account

3. Forward emails to your new email account

You can forward your messages while retaining a copy with your old mail service. Or, you can forward your messages and delete the copies on your old mail service.

Forward emails to Outlook.com

Go to Outlook.com and select the settings cog in the upper right corner. Select Connected Accounts and then select Add a connected account. You’ll fill out your name, email address and password and choose where your imported email will be stored: Create a new folder for imported email or Import into existing folders (like Sent Items, Drafts, Inbox etc.). Depending on your old email provider, you may have to enter your email settings manually. 

Outlook.com add account

Forward emails to Gmail

Go to Gmail and select the cog icon in the upper right corner. Select Accounts and Import then Add a mail account. Enter your email address and select either "Link accounts with Gmailify" (which will leave a copy of the emails on your old account) or "Import emails from my other account" (which will not leave a copy on your old account).

Add account to Gmail

For most email services, all of the fields will be pre-populated, if not, you can get the information from your email service provider. Then select Add Account.

Once you have connected your account, go back to Settings > Accounts and Import> and choose to "Always reply from the default address," which should be your new Gmail address.

4.  Import your contacts from your old email address

Chances are that you have an address book associated with your old email account and you’ll want to import them for use with your new account.

Importing to Outlook.com

If you’re switching to an Outlook.com account, you’ll need to select the People icon, choose Manage and then Import Contacts. You’ll see a list of services come up, which includes Gmail, Outlook (2010, 2013, or 2016), Yahoo Mail and Windows Live Mail. If your current provider isn’t listed, you should be able to export to a .cvs file. Search for "export contacts from (name of your old email provider)" for instructions. Once you have the file, choose Gmail (it exports to a .cvs file) and import your contacts.

Outlook.com import contacts

Importing to Gmail

If you’re switching from a Yahoo, Outlook, Hotmail, AOL or most internet service providers, go to Google Contacts, select More and then Import. Select the type of account you want to import from and click on "I Agree, Let’s Go!" Sign into your old email account and select "Agree." 

Import contacts to Gmail

If you’re switching from an Apple or iCloud account to a Gmail account, you’ll need to first generate an app password. To do that, go to Appleid.apple.com and log in with your Apple ID. Scroll down to "Security" and select "Generate Password" under "App-Specific Password." Label the password (something like Gmail Contacts) and copy the password. Then go to Google Contacts, select "More" and then "Import." Select the account you want to import from, click "I Agree, Let’s Go!". Sign into your account using the app-specific password you just created (not your usual password) and click on "Agree".

Apple ID app specific password

5. Tell people about your new email address

Once you have your new email up and running, it’s time to email everyone telling them about your new email address. Be sure to use the Bcc option (blind copy) in the address bar, so you don’t accidentally share other people’s email addresses with the whole group. You may also want to add a signature that calls out the fact that your email has changed. For Outlook.com go to Settings > Options > Mail > Layout > Email signature. For Gmail for to Settings > General and scroll all the way down to Signature.

Gmail BCC Message

[Image credit: hand holding phone with email via BigStockPhoto, screenshots via Techlicious/Google/Microsoft/Apple]



Discussion loading

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Hmm...

From Terkel Christensen on February 17, 2018 :: 1:13 pm

I was so happy to see your topic, Suzanne.

However it is completely useless!
I have traded all over the world, and is a “member” in hundreds of websites.
None of them will ever know, if I change my email-adress. Unless I tell them I did.

Therefore: Your ideas/advise is totally useless.

Sincerely,
Terkel Christensen
Denmark

Reply

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Subscriptions

From Tony on February 21, 2018 :: 1:00 am

Therefore Terkel, you’ll need to follow the part of the advice which relates to auto-forwarding, or mail fetching. You can let all those “member” mailings land in your old account and view them in the new, until you find the opportunity to update your profile info on each site.

Of course, getting mail from hundreds of sites is something you should review and cull periodically.

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broken link

From Stacey Dunleavy on April 19, 2018 :: 4:36 pm

I followed the link from the email about Yahoo’s new policy that has less privacy.  I just want to find out how to not Agree to it…

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Not use the service

From Josh Kirschner on April 19, 2018 :: 4:57 pm

Sorry that wasn’t clearer in our newsletter. If you don’t agree to Yahoo’s terms (or any other provider’ s terms) your only option is not to use the service. In which case, you can switch to another email provider with more consumer-friendly terms using the steps above.

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Advertising is becoming Predatory

From Ruth Kenrick-Smith on April 19, 2018 :: 6:44 pm

If people we know behaved like advertising companies, we would sue them for stalking. How long as a society can we allow this to continue? I really feel like going back to pen and paper sometimes.

Reply

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Leaving Yahoo

From Susan on May 07, 2018 :: 10:56 am

I’ve imported my contacts and messages from Yahoo to Gmail which seemed easy enough.
Now, if close my Yahoo account will the messages automatically go to Gmail? Or, does Gmail need the Yahoo account to pull from?
Thank you for your help!

Reply

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No, you need to keep your Yahoo account

From Josh Kirschner on May 07, 2018 :: 11:57 am

If you want to continue to forward (or pull) messages from your Yahoo account, you will need to keep it open. Eventually, everyone will have your new Gmail info and you Yahoo account will be less useful, but since there’s no cost to keeping it, you might as well keep it open until you get nothing there except spam.

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Please clarify

From Susan on May 07, 2018 :: 5:25 pm

Thank you for your response!
The reply wording makes it sound as if I am forwarding my email from Yahoo to Gmail, which is not the case.
Since I planned to close my Yahoo account due to their recent changes,
I used my new Gmail account to “pull” or import to Gmail from Yahoo.
So my question is a little different: Do I have to have Yahoo receive my emails before Gmail can retrieve them?
Yes, I plan to notify my contacts.
Again, thank you for your help.
Susan

Reply

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Yes, you need to keep Yahoo

From Josh Kirschner on May 07, 2018 :: 5:34 pm

Sorry I wasn’t clear. If by “pull” you mean access your Yahoo email through Gmail via Pop or IMAP, then, yes, you still need to keep your Yahoo account to do this. If that’s not what you mean, you’ll need to give me more info on what you’re trying to do.

Once you cancel your Yahoo account, any emails sent to your old Yahoo email address will simply be dumped by Yahoo and the sender will likely get a “user not found” message. Gmail will not be able to access these emails.

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Multiple emails in Yahoo

From Susan on May 08, 2018 :: 11:19 am

I just realized that my “recovery or alternate” emails are “linked” to my Yahoo account. Let me clarify… I knew they were there in the background, but I didn’t know they were a “click” away.
Just now, I discovered I can click into either of my two alternate gmail email accounts or my yahoo within my yahoo email account. No sign in necessary. I always sign out of every account, and keep them separate on purpose.
I am getting flashbacks on some past experiences when I thought I lost an email, or sent an email and then not be able to find it. It’s pretty clear to me that I was accidentally in one of the other accounts. Ugh. When and how did this setting happen? And how can I isolate each account from the other?

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Forwarding or Fetching Mail

From Tony on May 16, 2018 :: 11:54 am

Susan,

The big three - Yahoo, Gmail, and Hotmail (otherwise known as msn.com, live.com, or outlook.com) all have various ways of sending or receiving mail as or on behalf of other email services. You’d have to take a look at your Settings page to see exactly what is configured, then seek help to undo or alter your set up.

Reply

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Moving from AT&T (Yahoo) to Gmail

From Beth Kennedy on May 16, 2018 :: 4:40 pm

Because of the problems AT&T is currently having, one of my email accounts with them has totally disappeared.  None of their “chat” or phone people have been able to help me (after 4 hours with them this week).  My question is this:  if I set up a gmail account, will those emails in the lost account be gone forever, or are they out there somewhere and retrievable through gmail?  More information:  I had a main account and a sub-account with AT&T.  When I sign in with the main account username/password, I am getting the sub-account emails! &$(^$_)_(  I’ve given up on AT&T.
Thanks!

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Not sure

From Josh Kirschner on May 17, 2018 :: 9:23 am

It depends why those emails are “lost”, but the answer is that they are probably gone for good. Setting up a Gmail account to pull from your AT&T account will bring in new emails, but not older ones that are missing.

I assume you’ve tried looking in your Archive and Trash folders for those old emails? Your “AT&T” email is now Yahoo email, correct?

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transfer emails from closed account

From Nicole on July 09, 2018 :: 12:11 am

Hi there
Is there anyway to retrieve emails from a closed account? My husbands business email account closed and i didnt have time to transfer to my new gmail account!!

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Maybe

From Josh Kirschner on July 09, 2018 :: 11:32 am

It depends on where the email was being hosted and whether you can reactivate those accounts. Do you or your husband control the server where your email was hosted or the third-party service that hosted it on your behalf (e.g., G Suite)? If so, you may be able to reactivate and the old emails may not have been purged, yet. If you don’t control it, then you would have to work through the company/party that does to see if they can help you.

Reply

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