How To Import & Manage Multiple Email Accounts In Gmail

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multiple email accounts gmailIt is not uncommon to have several email accounts, but checking multiple accounts in different places is tedious. Hence, many people revert to a desktop email client like Thunderbird or Outlook to manage all their mail from one place. In this article, I will tell you why Gmail is better and I will show you how you can easily and efficiently read all your email in a single Gmail account. For an in-depth look at more power-user tips, make sure to check out our Gmail Guide for advanced users.

Let Gmail become your one account to rule them all!

Why Give Up A Desktop Email Client?

For years I was using Thunderbird and it really is a great program that can do a lot of things. However, I found that Gmail can do the same and it can do it much better. Since I switched, I no longer have to worry about backing up or moving my profile, I save a bit of RAM as my browser is running anyway, I save several gigabytes of hard drive space, and no matter where I check my mail, it’s always the same familiar inbox and setup greeting me.

Besides, Gmail has an ingenious search feature, some fun and very useful Google Labs plugins, and with browser extensions you can get even more cool features. In other words, it’s bliss and I would like to share that with you.

Import Email Accounts Into Gmail

Much like a desktop client, Gmail can handle multiple email accounts. Moreover, it makes importing mail from POP3 accounts fairly easy, by automatically filling in the required POP server information for you.

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Let’s say you want to import email from an old Hotmail account, what would you need to do?

  • Open Google Mail, click the wheel icon in top right and select Settings from the drop-down menu.
  • In your Gmail settings, go to the Accounts and Import tab.
  • Under the header Check mail using POP3 click Add a POP3 mail account you own.
  • Fill in your email address and click Next Step.
  • In the next window, add your password, check the boxes that apply, and click Add Account.

multiple email accounts gmail

If you want to treat the imported account like a separate email account, I recommend to check the option that says Label incoming messages and then create a label for the respective account. In that case I also recommend to Archive incoming messages (Skip the Inbox). In the second part of this article, I will show you how you can create a second inbox for this email account based on its label.

If the account was added successfully, Gmail will ask you whether you want to use the email as an alias to send email through that account. Note that you will have to confirm this with a code sent to the respective email address. You can also skip this step and add the alias anytime later. The option can be found under the Send mail as: header in > Settings > Accounts and Import.

multiple email accounts gmail inbox

Note that Gmail can only import mail that is in the inbox of your old account. If you want to import mail from folders, you have to gradually move the messages to the inbox of your old account and – if you really need to – label them as they arrive in your Gmail account. With some planning and the right techniques, this can be done in bulk.

Manage Multiple Email Accounts In Gmail

You can solve this task in many different ways. For example, you could ignore the fact that emails come from different accounts and just deal with them as if they were all the same. By using an email alias, it will look as if you responded from your other account to everyone else. On the other hand, consequently responding from your new email account will help you contacts pick up the new email address and eventually switch.

However, you may have email accounts for work or different projects that you want to or have to keep strictly separate. In this case I recommend using a Gmail labs feature called Multiple Inboxes. This is how you can activate it:

  • In Google Mail click the wheel icon in the top right and select Settings from the drop-down menu.
  • In the settings page, go to the Labs tab.
  • Scroll down to the entry that says Multiple Inboxes and click the Enable radio button.
  • Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the Save Changes button.

enable multiple inboxes gmail labs feature

When you now return to your Gmail settings page, you will see a tab called Multiple inboxes.

The screenshot below shows my personal multiple inboxes setup. As you can see, I am using it to always view my starred email (Pane 0), my drafts (Pane 1) two different projects (Pane 2 and 3), and two email accounts I am importing (Pane 4). Each pane shows a maximum of 10 conversations and they are shown below my inbox.

gmail multiple inboxes setup

What makes the Multiple Inboxes feature so very useful, is that it works with GMail search operators. You can even combine several, as seen in my demonstration above. An overview of all GMail search operators is available here. If you chose to filter and archive email you are importing as recommended in the first part of this article, you can now enter the label you chose into one of panes. This will create a separate inbox for the imported email account.

Once you have successfully set up your multiple inboxes, it may look something like this:

multiple email accounts gmail

Now that you have united all your email accounts in one, you may need some help with processing your emails. The following articles should get you started:

How do you manage multiple email accounts and a flood of emails? Have you discovered any other useful Gmail features? Please share in the comments!

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25 Comments - Write a Comment



Thanks Tina. Multiple inboxes is nice. I am now thinking of dispatching Thunderbird. There’s only one advantage left on using Thunderbird over Gmail for me: offline viewing.


That indeed is a major advantage if internet connection is a challenge.


Shawn Chester

Thanks I am going to try this out at work and see if I like it.


Great Shawn! I’m curious to hear what you think.



Thank you such great trick.
I have four accounts managed through Outlook 2007. Now I am thinking to do this. Its would be very easy for me to maintain and speed boost for PC form outlook load.


If you do try this, Pradosh, let us know how it worked for you.



I use the gmail pop capture tool to backup my main mail account (Google apps) to a secondary gmail account. I posted how to do it on my blog here:





Ravi Lamontagne

I didnt know u could do that with gmail but the truth is i like the fact that i don have to check my mail in a browser so in the event that the browser crashes or is running really slow i could still go ahead and check my mail in the mean time. Though i always have mozilla and chrome running at the same time. Oh, does it offer the possibility of having private and public keys like thunderbird 


As for security, Gmail uses https per default. If you want more than that, there are browser addons that offer encryption for Gmail. However, we have not covered any recently.


I have a couple of questions. First do you know the name of the browser extension that would provide encryption? Second, what did you do to backup your profile in Thunderbird? I also think adding 2 factor authentication to your Google account helps make this much more secure.



As I said, we haven’t recently reviewed any such add-ons, so I wouldn’t feel confident recommending one. That said, if you earch for email encryption on, you will find several and they come with ratings and reviews. Maybe one is for you.

Back when I used Thunderbird, I used MozBackup to back up my profile. Works for all Mozilla products, i.e. also for Firefox.



after a trial attempt on one account (inbox only), i tried to transfer other accounts over to gmail for management yesterday. and i regret it. today is my 40th birthday and i’ll be spending much of it attempting to return my external accounts to some sort of peaceful existence. gmail scanned through all of my emails and tagged them as having been read, but doesn’t list them in the gmail interface. used the pop3 fetch and the (somewhat ineffective) email uploader for osx. been hanging on to some of this stuff for years in the imap cloud with very few issues. now, the pretty gmail interface promise has turned my head enough that i thought any harm would be easily reversible. nope. i’ve got some time to invest here apparently. maybe this will work if people haven’t got long-established accounts with years-worth of information in them. but an established email account with a reasonably-sized directory structure covering over a decade’s-worth of information isn’t going to have a good experience as they try to transfer it to gmail. i’d love it if i could make it happen, but i’m just an end-user trying to find a quick, easy, painless way to make things better. maybe if i were a programmer i could whip something together, but looks like i’m stuck


Sorry you are having such a bad experience!

Not sure how you imported and sorted your external accounts, but if you selected the skip inbox and archive option for importing, then yes, GMail will mark them as unread and they will not go into your inbox. You will see them in the All Mail folder, however. Hope that info helps.



this makes my day



Wow..great post overall … never knew gmail could do that




i’m using this and it works perfect….



No need of any other email clients like postbox… ;)



i didnt know that this service was available because im not that good in computers yet.



I Didnt Know That This Service Was Available Beacause Im Not That Good In Computers Yet I started Using Computers Because Of The Web Page I Have For A Natural Product From A Company Called BIOLIFE Were Im A Independent Distribuitor



I am trying to do this and it has been a challenge, though I do think that it is user error.
I have set up 2 accounts on to a main account. Lets call these 1, 2 and Master. Account 1 I have had for years and since the transfer I have been getting old emails resent to that account (1) marked as unread, over 300 of these is the past 2 days. Not a huge deal, but did I do something wrong?
My main issue right now is that I am not getting emails sent from account 1 to the Master. I don’t know if this is because it is still loading all all the past emails.
Any help would be great.
I loved all the information and I can’t wait to see it all in action!!!!



Is there a way to change the order of your added accounts, so that the 2 most popular are at the top when selecting?



Hi there. An update to this very useful article is due I think! :)

Alan Gurling

Hi Tina, thanks for replying! :)

I totally agree, still valid information. I mentioned an update on retards to the design changes, more G+ integration, and the account switch feature that Google now uses.

There’s also that new Gmail Mailbox app.

Hope this helps!

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