Talking tech since 2003

Anyone who has ever changed email accounts knows how difficult it can be to transition emails over.  This being, I know a lot of people that save all of their emails, making a transition between email providers seemingly impossible.  Even people who delete unimportant emails on a regular basis usually have a certain number of emails of high importance.  So what is one supposed to do with these emails in order to move them to their new accounts?  Many people opt to simple forward them to their new account; a process that can take a lot of time depending on the number of emails to be transferred.

One of the best ways that I have found to move emails from one email account to another is to use an email client to download the emails from the old email account, and re-upload them to the new one.  While you can use any standard email client for this task, this tutorial will cover using the Mozilla Thunderbird email client, as it is open source and available for Windows, Mac OS, and Linux.

Firstly, you will need to add both accounts to Thunderbird if you have yet to do so already.  This process can be achieved by selecting “Edit” from the main window and opening “Account Settings”.  From there, you will see a pull-down at the bottom left-hand corner.  Simply click on the “Add Mail Account” option to begin setting up your account.  I won’t get into this process too much, Thunderbird makes it super easy to add email accounts.  However, if your email providers support it, I would recommend using the IMAP protocol as apposed to POP.

Once you have both accounts set up, you will want to move to the traditional folder layout in Thunderbird.  To do this, select the “View” menu from the main window, and change the “Folders” option to “All”.

From here, the process of moving old emails to your new account is as simple as dragging and dropping.  Simply navigate to your old inbox from the folders on the left-hand side of your screen, select any or all of the messages in it, and drag them to your new inbox.  While the screenshot below doesn’t show it, dragging and dropping in Tunderbird should put an envelope icon on the cursor to signify that you are moving things.  This process can be repeated as necessary to move over your “Sent” folder, “Drafts” folder, etc.  Be sure to realize that depending on the amount of content you are moving and the speed of your Internet connection, this can take a bit of time and you will need to be patient.

That’s it.  It’s really that simple.  If you are going to continue using Thunderbird as your email client, I would highly recommend that you keep your old account set up so that you are able to receive messages sent to it by anyone who was not informed of your email address change.

If you are going to be using webmail to access your new account, I would check to see if your old provider supports email forwarding to automatically forward emails sent to your old account to your new one.  This is a topic I have covered in a previous how-to on using Gmail as a universal email inbox.

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