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Part I: My 3 step program for moving to Google Apps

Changing your email address can be a pain. You need to move your old emails, filters (rules), contacts and of course have to redirect new mails from your old account to your Apps account while you notify your contacts of your new address (in some cases, can be a lengthy task in itself!).. but fear not! I have, after many conversions, developed a 3 step program that aims to make this as painless as possible.

In Part I: My three step program for moving to Google Apps, I’ll cover the basics of moving from an existing Gmail account to Google Apps. In the future I’ll be writing for Hotmail accounts and Yahoo accounts.

Let’s begin!

Step one – Prepare your gmail account:

  • Log into your Gmail account and enable “pop from the beginning”. This will allow Apps to import all mail you’ve ever had. You can do this via Settings > Forwarding and Pop/Imap.

  • Optionally, a simple way of getting new mail from your old account sent straight to Apps is by setting a “mail forward” to the apps account via Settings > Forwarding and Pop/Imap*. I personally prefer this to POP once the conversion is complete. If you do to, once you’ve set the forwarding address, you’ll be required to confirm you have permission to forward mails to your apps account. Google will email your apps account for confirmation. Accept it and voila, auto-forward is activated for all new mail that comes through. If you’re 0nly wanting some mails to come through, you’re better off creating a filter.

  • Optionally set a “reply to” in your gmail account pointing to apps. On the off-chance you want to send a quick email from your gmail account it will look like you’re sending the mail from your Apps account. Do this via Settings > Accounts > Edit info.

  • Exporting your contacts is a good idea – regardless of whether you want to import them to Apps or not, you never know when you’ll need a backup. You can export your contacts by going to Contacts > More Actions > Export…

  • Finally, export your filters. To do this, you’ll need to enable a Gmail lab. You can enable the Filter Import/Export lab by going to Settings > Labs.

  • Once you’ve enabled the lab, you can see the new settings by going to Settings > Filters. NOTE – you’ll need to enable this in Apps to import the filters.

Gmail is ready.

Step two – Get your mail in and add a send from your old account:

  • Log into your apps account, go to Settings > Accounts and add Gmail as an account you own. Apps will then POP your mails across (no pun, honest!). It’ll take a while depending on how many mails you have (- taking into consideration that every email you’ve ever sent and received is coming though -) but they’ll all show up eventually! Note that you may have to re-label mails.

  • Optionally, add your gmail address as a “send from” – you never know – you may want to use it initially while you settle / keep people from knowing your apps address (it’s good for privacy – you can send business from mr.b@business.com and random rubbish from thisisspam@gmail.com

  • You will need to accept the “send mail as” request in gmail, then you can send mail from Apps as if you were writing from Gmail.

Step three – the finishing touches:


Below you can finish off the move by importing your contacts, filters and calendar. It’s a good idea to re-create your labels before you import filters, some may be relying on pre-existing labels and currently there’s no way to import/export labels.

  • Import your contacts to Apps. You can do this exactly as you did export, via Contacts > More Actions > Import, or Contacts > Import (top right link).

  • Import your filters to Apps. Once again, you can do this exactly as you did export, via first enabling the Filter Export lab. You can enable the Filter Import/Export lab by going to Settings > Labs. You can then go to Settings > Filters to import your filters file.

  • Compare your messages between gmail and apps (do this via “All Mail” as it shows every conversation you have) so you know you’ve got all your mails. If you haven’t, don’t worry – it can take a really long time.

  • If necessary, export and import your calendar. Do this by going to your Calendar > Settings > Calendar Settings > Calendars > Export. Re-import it in your apps account via Calendar > Settings > Calendar Settings > Calendars > Import, and voila.

* You can choose either to keep forwarding on, or keep pop running.. but it doesn’t make sense to have both running once you’ve brought in all your mails – I usually opt for the forwarder.

And that, my friends, is my three step guide for moving to Google Apps from Gmail. I had been lingering on this article for a while, but after a Buzz crossed my path with the exact request for this information I decided it would be a good idea to publish it for the world to view. This will be an evolving article – if you have better suggestions let me know! I’ll add them as they’re provided.

Do you use Outlook? You may be interested in a tool that should take all 3 steps and turn them into one quick, easy and integrated solution: Google Apps Outlook Migration Tool. Check it out!