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How to Switch Email Accounts Without Losing Emails

by Suzanne Kantra on June 28, 2024

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. (If you need help setting up a new email address, read my tips on How to Change Your Email Address.)

Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to make the change and not lose any emails in the process. I successfully transitioned my parents and mother-in-law to Gmail addresses, so it's easier than you may think. Here’s how to do it.

Google account creation screen on laptop on wood surface with a person sitting in front seen in shadow from behind.

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 Gmail

  1. Go to Gmail and select the cog icon in the upper right corner and select "Settings."
  2. Select "See all settings," "Accounts and Import" and then "Add a mail account."
  3. Enter your email address and leave the box "Treat as an alias" checked so when you reply to email it will come from your new Gmail account. Keep the option to "Send through Gmail" selected. You'll then need to "Send Verification" to show that you own your old email account.
    Screenshot of Gmail Accounts and Import settings page. Shows the Accounts and Import tab highlight, the settings cog in the upper right circled, and Add a mail account circled in the Check email from other accounts section.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Forward emails to Outlook.com

Unless your old email is a Gmail account and you subscribe to Microsoft 365 ($69.99 per year), you can't set up Outlook.com to pull in your old email. If you are a Microsoft 365 subscriber, you can add your Gmail account to Outlook.com.

  1. Go to Outlook.com and select Settings (cog in the upper right corner).
  2. Select "Premium" and in the "Additional mailboxes" section, click on "Add account." Sign into your Gmail account and it will sync with Outlook.com. You can only add one additional mailbox.

Note that your Gmail email will remain in a Gmail tab and you can't set a default "From" address.

Outlook.com Gmail tab showing the email inbox. The Gmail icon is pointed out.

If you have more than one Outlook.com account, can choose the option to "Set default From address."

  1. Go to Outlook.com and select the settings cog in the upper right corner.
  2. Select "Mail" and in the "Sync email" section choose an email address from the pulldown menu under "Set default From address."

Outlook.com screenshot of Mail Settings showing the Sync email options of Set default From address (the carat circled), Email alianses and POP and IMAP settings.

Forward emails to Outlook

  1. Open Outlook and select File from the top menu bar.
  2. Select "Add Account" and then input your old email address. Depending on your old email provider, you may have to enter your email settings manually.
    Screenshot of Microsoft Outlook Account Information screen showing the Account Settings button highlighted and the dropdown menu with Account Settings, Account Name and Sync Settings, Sever Settings, Change Profile and Manage Profiles.

As you move to your new account, you'll also want to change your default email address.

  1. Go to File > Account Settings > Account Settings.
  2. In the email tab, select the email address you want to use as your default address and then click on "Set as Default."
    Screenshot of Microsoft Outlook showing the option to set an email address as the default. The option Set as Default is pointed out.

Forward emails to New Outlook

  1. Open New Outlook app and select Settings (cog in the upper right corner).
  2. Select Accounts from the left navigation bar and then "Add account." Follow the prompts to add your account. New Outlook works with Microsoft 365 accounts, Gmail, Yahoo, iCloud, IMAP, and POP

As you move to your new account, you'll also want to change your default email address.

  1. Open New Outlook app and select Settings (cog in the upper right corner).
  2. Select "Mail" from the left navigation bar and then "Sync email."
  3. You'll see "Email aliases." There you can choose your default "From" address. You can only choose an Outlook account or Outlook email alias. 

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. Before importing contacts, you'll need to export your contacts from your current provider to a CSV file or, for Google Contacts, a CSV or vCard file. Search for "export contacts from (name of your old email provider)" for instructions.

Importing to Google Contacts

  1. Go to Google Contacts.
  2. Select "Import."
  3. Upload your *.csv or *.vcf file.

Screenshot of Google Contacts Settings. Import is pointed out in the left nav bar and at the bottom of the screen.

Importing to Outlook.com

If your old email is a Gmail account and you've added it to Outlook.com, your contacts will appear in the Gmail tab. You can also import them into your Outlook.com email account.

  1. Select the People icon.
  2. Select "Manage contacts" from the ribbon menu.
  3. Choose "Import Contacts."

Outlook.com Mail screenshot with the People icon pointed out and the Manage contacts menu dropdown showing Import contacts (pointed out) and Export contacts.

Importing to Outlook

  1. Go to File > Open & Export > Import/Export.
  2. Select "Import for another program or file" and then click on "Next."
  3. Choose "Comma Separated Values" and click on "Next."
  4. Select your CSV file and choose from import options – "Replace duplicates with items imported,” "Allow duplicates to be created," or "Do not import duplicate items."

Once imported, you'll find all of your contacts under the contacts icon in the lower left corner.

Importing to New Outlook

  1. Select the People icon.
  2. Select "Manage contacts" from the ribbon menu.
  3. Choose "Import Contacts."
  4. Select your CSV file and select "Import."

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 Gmail for to Settings > See all settings > General and scroll all the way down to Signature.
  • For Outlook.com and New Outlook, go to Settings > Mail > Compose and reply.
  • For Outlook, go to File > Options (at the bottom of the left nav) > Mail > Signatures to create or modify and existing signature.

Updated on 6/28/2024 with instructions for New Outlook and new screenshots

[Image credit: Google account creation screen on laptop via SmartMockups, screenshots via Techlicious/Google/Microsoft]

For the past 20+ years, Techlicious founder Suzanne Kantra has been exploring and writing about the world’s most exciting and important science and technology issues. Prior to Techlicious, Suzanne was the Technology Editor for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and the Senior Technology Editor for Popular Science. Suzanne has been featured on CNN, CBS, and NBC.


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Discussion loading

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From Mohamed Aden Mohamed on December 09, 2022 :: 10:16 am


Salam all group iam greeting iwant my email address change

Reply

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From Mark Antony on February 14, 2023 :: 6:36 am


What are some of the best email providers available? Are there any particular features that I should consider when choosing a Buy old Gmail Accounts?

Reply

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From Kathy Roberts on March 27, 2023 :: 6:13 pm


I will be changing my email account because I’m going to close down my current account.  I have a choice of a google account or an iCloud account.  Is there a benefit to one over the other?

Reply

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From Gary on June 06, 2023 :: 10:17 am


I am feeling lucky today. Switching emails to get away from trackers, viruses and spam. Selected a provider then started mapping a migration. One google and your very helpful article popped up first. I will make adjustments as required but yours gave me a good path to work with. Thanks Susan.

Reply

gravatar

From Kathy Hall on July 24, 2023 :: 4:43 pm


I have an old suddenlink email account that I’ve had for years and use for all my business and personal dealings.  Suddenlink was bought out by Optimum about a year ago and they no longer support the email account, so I have no way of logging into my email on Optimum or Suddenlink’s server.  I need to change my email passsword due to a possible email breach but I have no way of doing that.  Is there a way to access the old server, and if not, what do you suggest I do?

Reply

gravatar

From Josh Kirschner on July 24, 2023 :: 5:38 pm


Have you tried contacting Optimum directly? I would be surprised that they are not providing a means of access email from a company they only bought a year ago. According to these instructions from Optimum, you should be able to log in to their server using your prior Suddenlink credentials.

Reply

gravatar

From Vladimir on August 12, 2023 :: 3:01 am


Tinfoil hats are cheap. However, they won’t stop you being pummelled by reality, even though that might offend “thin skinned Putin lovin’ Trump babies”.

Try switching off and getting rebooted.

Reply

gravatar

From Kia Foster on August 12, 2023 :: 5:40 am


If you want 100% control of your Emails then best way is this. Register yourself a domain name, like
say myname2023.com   . Then sign up with any number of different “Web Hosting” companies available.  Maybe cost you $25-$50 a year .

You then can set up an Email address within your account such as “me@myname2023.com”. The point to
not is. Your domain name will be registered at a
“Domain Registrar” . You need to renew it each year for maybe $10 a year .

YOU control the “Name Servers” of that domain name, so IF you ever want to Change your Web Hosting provider you
simply change the “Nameservers” to the ones which your
WebHosting company tells you to use. It really is easy
and gives YOU 100% control . You can THEN set up a program like Thunderbird email on your PC/Desktop
and you will have inbox,sent,deleted,archive and all
other folders .  Click “Get Mail” and all your emails
will appear in your “Inbox”  Bingo 100% control.

Reply

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From Gary Hatton on August 12, 2023 :: 7:50 am


Last time I did email migration into a new GMail account the direct import method did not preserve the timestamps, ie. original date/time sent. The only way round this was to install the Thunderbird email client on the user’s computer then setup 2 accounts within Thundrbird - one for the old email account and another for the new GMail account. Once all the old emails had been downloaded I had to manually copy batches of emails between the 2 Thunderbird accounts in batches of a couple of hundred at most.

Reply

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From tina on October 17, 2023 :: 2:50 pm


I need to set up a new email my outlook is getting slammed with 100’s of junk mail .  If i get a new email address and forward my old emails wont’ all those junk emails follow as well? I just want a normal account that doesn’t have 100s of junk mail I’ve had the same account for 15 years but done with the junk

Reply

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From Josh Kirschner on October 18, 2023 :: 12:57 pm


If you are getting a significant amount of junk now, it would be better to use a “rule” in Outlook to forward your mail instead of the global forwarding feature. The rule will only forward email from your Inbox, not Junk. This article from Microsoft will walk you through setting it up the rule.

If the junk mail is making it into your mailbox, you won’t be worse off switching and forwarding. And long term, you can shut off the forwarding and that old junk mail will no longer be an issue.

Reply

gravatar

From charliemoore on January 31, 2024 :: 3:28 am


Thank you so much. Great work all around, keep sharing more informative content with us. 
WiFi range extender is a networking device that expand WiFi signals and increase the internet speed in your home or apartment <a >  Wireless-N WiFi repeater setup </a>

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From neha on June 29, 2024 :: 5:18 am


https://www.certvalue.com/iso-41001-certification-in-zimbabwe/

Certvalue is the top ISO 41001 Consultants in Zimbabwe for providing ISO 41001 Certification in Zimbabwe,Harare,Mutare, Bulawayo and other major Cities in Zimbabwe with services of implementation.

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From anthony anderson on July 12, 2024 :: 6:22 am


Hello everyone 👋 so I recently had my Facebook account hacked, which was frustrating and disappointing. Unfortunately, Meta doesn’t have a dedicated support team, despite many accounts being compromised daily. Fortunately, I managed to contact a member of the Meta recovery department, @ Rothsteincode, through X formally known as Twitter, and Gmail.  .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
They helped me regain access to my account. I’m grateful for their assistance, but I believe Meta needs to improve their security measures and provide better support for users.

Reply

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