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Use Thunderbird to Migrate Gmail Labels Across Google Accounts

Copy/Export Gmail Labels with Thunderbird

Gmail has plenty of features for combining multiple accounts, even if some of them are using Google Apps. However, if you’re a serious Gmailer you’ve probably set up plenty of labels, and there is no built-in option to export or share these labels to another account. To get around this we can use an IMAP email client, and Thunderbird is a free choice that works great for this. Thunderbird recognizes labels as folders, and Gmail recognizes Thunderbird folders as labels, so the two are interchangeable. Below I’ll show you the simple steps to use this for copying labels (and the emails attached to them) to a new account.

Requirements

Sign into both accounts over IMAP using Mozilla’s Thunderbird. This can be done from Settings >> Options >> Account Settings…

In order to connect to Gmail or Google Apps mail via IMAP, you’ll need to enable IMAP within the mail account settings.

thunderbird account settings optionnew account

Now that you have both accounts added to Thunderbird, wait for the email lists to populate. You should see all of the tags appear as folders underneath the account that has them.

Now just select the folders (labels) from the original email address, and then drag them into the other address and they will automatically copied.

drag labels from one account to another to copy them

Now you just have to wait for a while. Grab a snack, eat a Snickers, or patiently watch each copy message scroll across the bottom-left of the Thunderbird screen. It can seriously take a while to copy all of your labels and the emails attached to them between accounts in Thunderbird, especially if you have a large number of emails attached to each label.

copying message

Done! Your labels should be copied, just login to Gmail or Google Apps mail and check it out to be sure!

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