How to Import Emails from Gmail to Google Apps Using Outlook or Thunderbird

Transer Email from Gmail to Google Apps via Outlook ro Thunderbird Have you just bought a domain and want to upgrade from standard Gmail to Google Apps for Domains, or Google Apps for Business? Great choice. The only downside here is you’re going to lose all of your archived emails.  If you’re like me and search your archived emails daily for reference, this is going to be somewhat of a pain.  Luckily, there’s a quick, easy and free way to transfer emails from one Gmail account to another.

This works for importing Gmail to Google Apps, Google apps to Gmail, standard Gmail to standard Gmail and Google Apps to Google Apps.  Let’s take a look at how to do it.

Article Map:

Instructions for Outlook
Instructions for Thunderbird

Importing Archived Gmail Messages with Outlook

The basic premise is this: first, you download all of your messages from Gmail to your Outlook account, then you copy them over to your Google Apps account. It’s not as cumbersome as it seems.

Step 1

Add both your standard Gmail account and your Google Apps Gmail account to your Outlook setup.

For a refresher on how to do this, check out our previous tutorial on .

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Step 2

Expand the Gmail folder beneath your account to reveal the All Mail folder.

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Step 3

Drag and drop the All Mail folder into the Gmail or Google Apps account where you’d like to import your messages.

You can just drag it into the main account, or you can stick it into a subfolder, such as “Imported Gmail.”  You can also drag it into the All Mail folder to keep things consistent.

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Step 4

Now we play the waiting game… This could take a long time depending on how many messages you have archived.

I recommend walking away. Grab a sandwich. Or two. Better yet, bake some bread from scratch and then use that for a sandwich. It could take that long.

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Step 5

Now, when you log in to Gmail, you’ll notice a new folder, usually with the word IMAP in it somewhere. You can change this folder name later. But inside, you’ll find all your imported Gmail messages with the headers, to/from and received dates all intact.

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That covers Outlook, now let’s see how it is done in Thunderbird.


Migrating Gmail Messages to Google Apps with Thunderbird

If you don’t have Outlook, you can migrate your Gmail messages to/from Google Apps using Thunderbird using pretty much the exact same method.

Step 1

Add both your Gmail and Google Apps Gmail accounts to Thunderbird. Setting up Thunderbird with Gmail is even easier than with Outlook—it should auto-detect the settings. If this isn’t your first time running Thunderbird, Click Tools > Account Settings  and then at the bottom, Click Account Actions > Add Mail Account…

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Step 2

Expand the folders to reveal the All Mail folder. Select it.

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Step 3

Move over to the message browsing pane and Select one message. Next, press CTRL + A to select all of the messages.

backing up thunderbird and google apps mail

Step 4

Right-click your selected messages and choose Copy To and then select the destination in your other Gmail account.

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Step 5

Wait… and then be ready to wait some more.  My advice? Walk away. Go watch a movie. If you have over 1,000 messages, make it the Lord of the Rings trilogy: extended edition. This will take awhile.

copying gmail to google apps mailbox

But once you’re done, you’ll have all of your Gmail messages nicely consolidated and ready to search.



  1. Jason Graham

    July 7, 2011 at 7:28 am

    When I migrate outlook mail to Gmail, my read messages show as unread in Gmail after migration. Anyway to have them come over as ‘read’ in my Gmail inbox? Im guessing no with IMAP but just asking!

  2. Nurhusien

    February 9, 2012 at 7:29 am

    Find public gmail serves

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