How to import archived Outlook email into Gmail

by mcastellon on March 10, 2006

There are a lot of reasons to want to move your Outlook email archives into a Gmail account. I find that many companies grant their employeees very little email space on the servers, creating a need to always have to backup and archive your email locally on your work computer.

On several occasions I’ve wanted to move my Outlook archives into Gmail so that they’re more accessible and searchable online and so I won’t have to worry about bounced emails if my work server is full.

If this is your situation and at work and you use a Gmail account at home, you likely dream of being able to store all your email on one Gmail account.

Following these steps it will be easy for you to move your Outlook archives into your Gmail account.

  1. Import your Outlook mailbox into Microsoft Outlook Express. Open Outlook, then open Outlook Express. In Outlook Express, select Tools > Import, and instruct it to import Mail from Outlook.
  2. Download and install Mozilla Thunderbird, an open source replacement for Outlook from the people who make Firefox. Be sure during the installation process to have Thunderbird import your mail from Outlook Express. Installing Thunderbird allows extraction of your old mail from Microsoft’s proprietary (and difficult) PST file format into a more open mBox file. While Thunderbird offers the option to import mail directly from Microsoft Outlook, the data is less likely to get corrupted if you add the intermediate step of importing to Outlook Express.
  3. Download and install the free, open source program Google GMail Loader (GML) by Mark Lyon.
  4. Open GML loader.
  5. Select the find button under Configure Your Email File, and browse your hard drive to locate the mail file for Thunderbird. To locate your Profile folder, follow these instructions from Mozilla. Note if the Application Data file does not appear where it is supposed to, open the folder it should be located in and instruct Windows to display hidden files. It should now appear.
  6. Select and highlight the individual folder of mail you wish to import into GMail.
  7. Open your GMail account and, if possible, clean out your inbox. All the archived mail you import will come into your inbox. Once it does, you will want to select it all and archive it. It will be much simpler to do this without archiving emails you don’t want archived if you clean out your email box. Alternatively, you can tag all current emails with a tag, so they can be easily located in the archives and returned to the inbox later.
  8. Choose the File Type in GML. There are two options for mBox files. If you try with the more strict option and GML finds 0 messages in your file, change to the Less Strict mBox option on File Type and try again.
  9. Choose the message type. Messages imported from your Sent Items folder can be sent to the Sent Items folder in GMail. However, they will also appear in your inbox, where you will then want to delete them. All other messages will be sent to the inbox, and from there you can select them and archive them.
  10. Enter your GMail address.
  11. Consider entering your SMTP server information. The program defaults with a google SMTP server, which for most people works fine. Consider changing it to your SMTP server only if it doesn’t work otherwise.
  12. Click the Send to GMail button in GML and monitor the send process. If you have thousands of emails, it could take hours to import.
  13. Open your GMail account and review the progress as GML imports your messages.
  14. As your messages are being imported, they can be archived from the inbox (or deleted from the inbox for Sent Mail only). To archive, click the All link in Gmail to select all, then press Y to Archive. (Keyboard shortcuts must be turned on from your Settings menu). This will archive the 50 most recent messages. Repeat until all messages have been archived. If you are processing sent mail, a copy has been placed directly into your Sent Mail folder, so you can select All and then click the Delete button to delete the most recent 50. (special thanks to wikihow for these steps).

Once you follow these steps, you may consider creating an alias and forwarding your work email directly to your Gmail account.

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