How to Consolidate Email Accounts Into Gmail

Gmail envelope logo

There was a wondrous time when most of us only had one email address and getting a second seemed insane. Today it’s more common to have two, three, even 10 email addresses that you use on a regular basis.

This makes for a confusing workflow that can leave you running in circles. Instead of shying away from the Gmail Web interface to use desktop apps for email, why not just sync all of your email, including from non-Gmail addresses, into one Gmail account?

Sound complicated? It’s actually not that hard to do if you follow the instructions closely. The best part is that once you’ve set it up, this takes no management and will run itself.

Here are the steps to consolidate email accounts into Gmail.

Step 1: Checking Mail From Other Accounts

First, you need to start receiving emails from the addresses you want consolidated in your main account. This way when someone sends an email to one of your consolidated accounts you’ll see it in your main account, no additional logins required.

To do this you use the POP3 system of receiving email. Basically this means that all messages will come to your main account and will not appear in your old account any longer, even though your old account still exists.

You must make sure you have POP3 email turned on for the consolidated account. This varies from one email provider to another, but in Gmail just go to Settings, click the Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab and turn POP on.

You get two options when checking mail from other accounts in Gmail. First, you can use the Mail Fetcher, which imports all old emails as well as forwarding all future emails. Or you can just start forwarding from this point forward. For the sake of this post we’ll use the Mail Fetcher and import all old emails, too.

1. In the Gmail account you’re using as your main account, click the gear icon in the top right corner and select Settings.
2. Click on the Accounts and Import tab and then click Add a POP3 mail account you own.

Add a POP3 mail account you own link in Gmail Settings
3. Enter the email address you wish to bring over to this account and then click Next Step.

Entering email address in Add a Mail Account You Own box in Gmail

4. You’ll be prompted to enter your username and password for the account. Then you get a few options.

  • If you want the imported messages to stay with the old account, then check the first box, but note that this isn’t supported with Gmail accounts.
  • Leave the box for Always use a secure connection checked.
  • You can apply a label to all messages coming from the old account to differentiate them after the import. This is recommended, so check this box, too.
  • To keep all the messages you’re importing out of your Gmail inbox, check the final box on this screen. This will make sure all the old messages being imported are archived.

Optional settings with checkboxes in Add a Mail Account You Own box in Gmail

5. Click Add Account and the process will get moving.

If you run into an issue with the process where your Gmail username and password aren’t accepted, check this help documentation from Google, as you may need to change security settings to make this work.

You should now see your old email address listed on your Gmail page, and it should start checking your mail. While this is going on, you can move on to Step 2.

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Step 2: Send Mail As…

Now that your old and new emails are coming to your main account, it’s time to be able to send and reply correctly from your consolidated account.

1. Stay on the Accounts and Import tab in Settings, and make sure you’re still in the account you want to use as your main account. Under the Send mail as section, click Add another email address you own.

Link for Add another email address you own in Gmail Settings

2. A window will appear asking for your name and email address. Type out your name as you want it to appear when you send an email, and enter the full email address you’re consolidating.
3. Uncheck the Treat as an alias box. This one is a little tricky, but if you want to look like you’re sending from your old account, make sure this box is NOT checked. If it’s checked, users will see your primary email address along with the consolidated one.
4. When ready, click Next Step.

Entering name and email address in box for Add another email address you own

5. Gmail will now prompt you to send a verification email to the address you just entered. If you do indeed own this other address, click Send Verification. You should receive this email at the old email account. Open it up and either copy and paste the code into the window or click the link.

Email verification notification in Gmail

6. Head back over to Settings for your main account and you should see your old account listed in the Accounts and Import tab under Send mail as.

7. The last step here is to change the reply method so that when you reply to an email sent to the consolidated email address it comes from that address and not your primary. Just select the radio button next to Reply from the same address… and you’re all set. There’s no Save button to click; the change is immediate.

Step 3: Using the New Email Address

Now that everything is set up, let’s see how it works.

First, to send a new email as your consolidated account, just open a Compose window in Gmail and click the From field. You should see both your main email address and your consolidated one. This means you can send new emails from either account.

Next, when you receive a new email it will be addressed to your consolidated account, and you can reply to it from that one. In other words, you just eliminated the need to log in to your other account ever again.

Wrap-Up

This is a great way to manage multiple email addresses by using a single interface, but it’s worth noting that you’re using POP3 access to get to your emails. This means there will be some delay in their arrival in your main inbox. If 5 to 10 minutes’ delay for an email isn’t a big deal for you, then you’re good to go.

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