Do you still have an old prodigy.net or aol.com email address that you are finally giving up? Or maybe you’ve been using a college or university email address for a few years now and want to switch to a permanent email address before graduation? Or maybe when you signed up for an internet service, you ended up using an email address from a provider like cox.net or comcast.net?
Whatever the situation, it’s not trivial to switch to a new email address, especially if you have thousands of emails that you want to keep with your new email provider.
If you don’t have time to do it yourself, you can use a service I wrote about earlier called YippieMove, which charges $ 15 but will transfer all of your email from one service provider to another, like Hotmail to Gmail or Yahoo Mail to Gmail, etc.
While I think this method is worth it for some people, most people can do it themselves and customize everything the way they want. In this article, I’m going to talk about switching from any email provider to Gmail or Outlook as they are probably the best ones currently.
Here’s a general outline of what to do to move from one email service to another:
- Set up a new email using Gmail or Outlook.
- Import old email to new email service
- Forward email from old to new provider
- Set up a rule to automatically reply to old email
- Send all contacts an email with a new email address
- Update all online accounts that used an old email address
Set up a new email account
When setting up a new email account, you need to make sure that you choose two things correctly: your email provider and your email address. Don’t choose an email provider that might disappear after 5 years or make you leave. This means do not use college / university email, your ISP, or corporate email.
I suggest Gmail and Outlook because they have great features that other service providers can’t match. For example, with a Gmail account, you also have a Google account and therefore you can video chat directly from Gmail. Google also has Google Now, which can automatically scan your Gmail emails and provide you with information about flights, packages, and more. With Outlook.com, you can use Skype right from the web interface.
The second aspect to consider carefully is the name you choose for your email address. It is best these days to use your name, if possible, as your email address. Don’t use horrible names like email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Once you switch to a new email address, you probably want to keep it for a very long time, so choose a good name.
Import old email
The next step is to import all your old emails into Gmail or Outlook. This requires POP3 access, which is currently supported by most email providers, but otherwise, you probably won’t be able to migrate all your old email. You can manually enter and forward emails, but probably only important things.
If all your email is in the desktop version of Outlook, you can import the entire PST file to Gmail by adding your Gmail account to Outlook using IMAP, and then simply dragging and dropping local folders into the Gmail folders in Outlook. Step-by-step instructions can be found in this detailed guide
Now, if your email provider supports POP3 access, migrating email to Gmail is very easy. I have already written a detailed tutorial explaining how to import emails into Gmail from different providers.
If you’re using Outlook.com, the process is very simple too. Sign in, click the gear icon in the upper right corner, and then click Options. Go ahead and click on “Import Email Accounts”.
You can choose from Google, Yahoo, or another email service provider. Basically, all you have to do is enter your email address and password to connect to your account. You can also click Advanced Options to manually enter your mail server information if your ISP uses non-standard ports, etc.
That’s it for importing old emails into Gmail and Outlook. Please note that it may take several days for old emails to display if you have thousands of emails to import.
Old email forwarding
Note that when you set up email imports in Gmail and Outlook.com, new emails arriving at your old email address will likely be imported automatically, so you don’t need to set up forwarding. In the case of Gmail, it will only import new emails for 30 days, after which you will have to manually turn on auto-forwarding for the old email.
If you leave Gmail, you can easily enable forwarding by going to Settings and then clicking the Forwarding & POP / IMAP tab.
Click the Add Forwarding Address button and enter your new email address. If you don’t want everything to be redirected, click on the create filter link under the button.
If you are leaving Outlook.com, go to Options and click Forwarding Email to enter a forwarding address.
Again, you only need to do this in your old email provider unless you see the new emails being imported into the new email service.
Set up auto reply
Then you want to go ahead and set up an automatic or vacation reply to your old email address that will let everyone know that this email address will soon be deactivated.
In Gmail, you can do this by going to Settings and then scrolling down the General tab. There you will see the “Vacation” section.
Turn it on, select First Day, don’t check anything for Last Day, and then enter the subject and body of your email message. You can also check the box at the bottom if you want the message sent to your contacts to be saved on Google.
In Outlook.com, go to Settings and click Send Automatic Vacation Replies under Account Management. Note that this setting will not be present or disabled if you do not use your Outlook.com account on a daily basis.
On the next screen, you can enter your message just like in Gmail. I would just leave the answering machine on until you decide to completely close the account.
Update all accounts online
This is probably the hardest part of switching to a new email address. Almost everything we do on the Internet requires an email address as a starting point, which means you’ll have to manually update many accounts.
Unfortunately, there is no easy way. You will have to spend several hours or several days browsing each site one by one and updating your email address.
If you’re using a password manager like LastPass or 1Password, you can quickly view each saved site and update the URL. If you don’t have a system to keep track of your accounts, the next best option is to browse your email and see which sites are sending emails.
Hopefully with a little planning and organization, you can switch to a new email address and not mess up anything! If you have any questions, do not hesitate to leave comments. Enjoy!