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