Sunday, 6 December 2009

Bulk uploading email into Gmail

Recently I joined the hoards of people who use Gmail as their primary mail service.  It has all the bells and whistles and provides virtually unlimited space for storing email.  I won't go into all the cool features but let's just say, it rocks.

The question is, how do we get all our old email into our shiny new Gmail account?

The answer is fairly straight forward but my method requires a bit of know-how and a *NIX mail client.

First, the overview: Basically I used Alpine (the mail client formally known as 'Pine') and Gmail's IMAP abilities to bulk save the messages from the local folders to Gmail. Primarily I was concerned with my 'Sent' items from the past decade but this will work with any folder(s):

  1. Enable IMAP in Gmail.
  2. Install Alpine on your *NIX workstation or server.
  3. Configure Alpine to see to your existing email folders.
  4. Configure Alpine to talk via IMAP to Gmail:
    • Inbox: {imap.gmail.com/ssl/user=username@gmail.com}inbox
    • Collection List:
      • Server: imap.gmail.com/ssl/user=username@gmail.com
  5. Go to the folder you wish to bulk upload to Gmail.
  6. Select all messages (shortcut keys: ';' followed by 'A').
  7. Save all messages (shortcut keys: 'A' followed by 'S').
  8. Select the destination folder (shortcut keys: CTRL-T)
  9. Choose your Gmail collection and then the destination folder.
  10. Hit Enter to bulk save the messages into Gmail.
  11. Rinse and repeat for any other folders.

Using this method, I was able to bulk upload approx. 10,000 messages from the past decade of my Sent messages in approx. 1 hour (this will depend on your bandwidth, of course!).