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.

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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  1. Dawn
    November 24, 2017 at 12:46 pm

    I am trying to add another gmail account to my android. I have a personal gmail address and my new company also uses gmail.
    I cannot get passed "Verify account. I've entered both my personal gmail password and my new company gmail password.
    I've verified both passwords for each account.
    Color me stumped. Thanks in advance for responses.

    • Tina Sieber
      December 11, 2017 at 11:54 pm

      Not sure why this isn't working. I just recently did this myself with a new phone and had no problems. Do you use two-factor authentication on your company account?

      Hope you've figured this out in the meantime, Dawn. Please let us know! Thank you in advance.

  2. M
    October 20, 2017 at 12:32 am

    This thread may be closed but I would love a response. I followed the steps outlined above to connect my non google work email through Gmail. The problem is I cannot get notifications for any of the work emails. I assume this is because the work emails "Skip the inbox" and so cannot have notifications. It does me little good to only get notified for personal emails. Is there a way to fix this so I get the notifications back? If not I will probably scrape Gmail as an email client.

  3. Digvijay
    August 9, 2017 at 2:20 am

    Hi,
    I want to connect my company mail with multiple gmail accounts, as 3 people will require the access to mail. Currently I have added as per the given procedure but it is having a sync issue. Many times few mails gets received in one email id but not in another and vice versa.
    Is there any solution for this?

    • Tina Sieber
      August 9, 2017 at 7:13 pm

      From what I understand, you're importing one company email account to three different Gmail accounts. Is that correct?

      How did you set it up? Did you use IMAP or POP3?

      Note that POP3 downloads the messages from the server. And it sounds like that's how it's set up. When one person downloads the emails, they're gone from the server and the next person can't download them.

      With IMAP, you're giving the "downloading" account a mirrored version of what's on the server, so everyone should see exactly the same emails (and folders/labels).

      • Digvijay
        August 10, 2017 at 1:50 pm

        Hi,
        I have done the setup through POP3, let me try the IMAP settings.

        Thanks!

        • Tina Sieber
          August 10, 2017 at 7:25 pm

          That should do it. Goog luck!

  4. Scott
    March 2, 2017 at 12:57 am

    My second email in Thunderbird is a sub account (identity) of my first email address. I want to set up gmail on my desk top computer now. But I have one big problem. My second email address has no separate password of its own. I was able to set it up a long time ago on a tablet. But I don't remember how I set up the account.

    • Tina Sieber
      March 2, 2017 at 9:32 am

      Did you try the password of your first / main email address?

  5. Seancbkk
    September 16, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    I use Gmail for my primary email accounts but what I don't understand is why it's possible to setup Gmail up to send from lots of accounts but you can only check (receive) mail from a maximum of 5 POP accounts.

    I have to look after a lot more than 5 other email accounts (roughly 60 at the moment and I'm adding new ones all the time).

    I wish Google would increase the number of POP accounts that can be checked.

    • Tina Sieber
      September 16, 2016 at 4:31 pm

      Could you stack your accounts? Forward 5 accounts to account A, 5 to account B etc. and then forward accounts A through E to account F. It's a workaround, but it could work.

      • Mike Whitlatch
        July 15, 2017 at 8:29 pm

        I just ran into this unfortunate issue myself. The thread is a bit old but hopefully still being watched.

        I was poking around and seeing how I can forward accounts under another main account but retain the original forwarding address. I want to keep it so when replying to it, it keeps the original email to address.
        I was hoping you might be able to guide me in how to "organize" them to give the appearance they appear as separate accounts.

        • Tina Sieber
          July 29, 2017 at 6:58 pm

          Hey Mike, this isn't trivial.

          You can add "Reply to" and "From" addresses to Gmail. And when you respond to an email, you can manually change the "From" address, choosing from a list of your options. Or you can change your default. Click here for more details.

          However, I've found that it doesn't always work. On the sender's end, they may see the real "From" address. Also, if you're dealing with different accounts, you have to remember to change the "From" address every time.

  6. Dave
    August 30, 2016 at 5:50 am

    How do you make the "from" show as the different email address? Or is this just labeling?

    • Tina Sieber
      August 30, 2016 at 7:54 am

      You can add "send mail as" accounts under Settings > Accounts and Import.

  7. Kate
    July 1, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    Hello,

    I have changed password for my imported account and find the place where I can change it. Drama!

    • Tina Sieber
      July 1, 2016 at 6:53 pm

      Are you wondering how to reset the password for one of your accounts? You'll have to try and log into that account. Go to the Google account login, enter the respective email address, click Next, then click Forgot password?. The system will guide you through the password recovery. Good luck!

    • Tina Sieber
      July 1, 2016 at 6:57 pm

      If you know your password, but would like to change it for downloading emails, go to your Inbox (where you download emails to), click the cogwheel in the top right, select Settings, head to Accounts and Import, click edit info next to the respective email address you "check mail from", and enter the new password there. Good luck!

  8. Puneet
    July 1, 2016 at 4:46 am

    Hey Tina, great article and quite helpful for dealing with multiple email accounts.

    I am planning to import my yahoo email account to gmail. I am a little bit unclear on how the messages will be handled in gmail. When you delete imported emails of other accounts (like Yahoo) in gmail, are they deleted permanently from the Yahoo server too or gmail deletes just its own copy of the email?

    • Tina Sieber
      July 1, 2016 at 6:50 pm

      Thank you for the feedback, Puneet.

      If you forward emails or use POP, a copy of the emails is kept in the Yahoo account. If you delete an email forwarded or downloaded to Gmail, it won't be deleted on the Yahoo account. This is different if you can use IMAP; in that case you see a 1:1 copy of the other account, folder structure and everything, and changes are applied equally on both sides. Hope this helps.

  9. Jerry Suppan
    June 30, 2016 at 3:43 am

    I've been forwarding other email accounts to Gmail for years already. It's really a convenience as a one stop shop to review all one's email in one's centralized location. On replies, I can just select whichever email account I want to use to reply.

    • Tina Sieber
      June 30, 2016 at 6:32 pm

      Yes, Gmail made it really easy to integrate multiple accounts. Thank you for your feedback, Jerry!

  10. Richard Kershaw
    March 19, 2015 at 11:42 pm

    I'm definitely going to try this. I've just got a new laptop with windows 8.1. I continually get Thunderbird not responding messages and it is so so so slow. Also similar with Firefox browser. Internet explorer much better with windows 8.1.

    • Tina Sieber
      June 30, 2016 at 6:31 pm

      How did it work out for you, Richard?

  11. Alan Brain
    March 14, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    Hi,

    Thanks for the comment. Im not that good at computers, at least, not in this area and I would like to know if the Multiple Inbox Lab allows you to reply from one of your extra accounts. Som if I lets say have main account alanbrain@gmail.com and extra is alanbrain@test.com as multiple inbox and I reply to a mail that arrived to alanbrain@test.com through multiple inbox, the receiver will see the mail coming from alanbrain@test.com or from alanbrain@gmail.com?

    Thanks i advance

    Alan

  12. Jay
    March 11, 2015 at 5:51 am

    That was helpful but I want to know that how can I just find my one mail which I've forgotten in which gmail account I received among all the three gmail accounts I own at one time.

  13. Alan
    March 3, 2015 at 9:51 am

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

    • Tina
      March 3, 2015 at 4:17 pm

      What makes you say that, Alan? The strategies I mention in this article still work. Which other tips would you add?

      I have written an update specifically for Android users:
      How To Manage Multiple Google Or Gmail Accounts On Android

    • Alan Gurling
      March 3, 2015 at 11:34 pm

      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!

    • Alan Gurling
      March 3, 2015 at 11:35 pm

      *regards!!!

      Damn autocorrect!

    • Tina
      March 5, 2015 at 1:09 pm

      Good points! I'm using the new account switch feature every day and totally forgot about it. Haven't tried the Mailbox app, yet. Guess I should pitch an article. Thanks, Alan!

  14. Matt
    August 21, 2012 at 3:09 pm

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

  15. kelly
    July 19, 2012 at 3:07 am

    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!!!!
    Kelly

  16. GUADALUPE RAYGOZA
    July 18, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    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

  17. GUADALUPE RAYGOZA
    July 18, 2012 at 3:31 pm

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

  18. venkatp16
    June 28, 2012 at 2:10 am

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

  19. venkatp16
    June 28, 2012 at 2:09 am

    i'm using this and it works perfect....

  20. Zmaji
    June 27, 2012 at 11:04 pm

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

    -http://linkz-it.co.nr/

  21. thuya8
    June 26, 2012 at 2:54 am

    thank
    this makes my day

  22. cj
    June 19, 2012 at 10:20 am

    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

    • Tina
      June 19, 2012 at 1:35 pm

      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.

  23. Ravi Lamontagne
    March 1, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    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 

    • Tina
      March 2, 2012 at 8:33 pm

      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.

      • Steve
        June 5, 2012 at 5:18 pm

        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.

        • Tina
          June 6, 2012 at 6:12 pm

          Steve,

          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 addons.mozilla.org, 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.

  24. Guest
    March 1, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    sorry

  25. Jingaling
    March 1, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    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:

    http://blog.jingaling.co.uk/2011/08/are-your-emails-backed-up.html

  26. Pradosh
    March 1, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    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.

    • Tina
      March 1, 2012 at 9:19 pm

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

  27. Shawn Chester
    March 1, 2012 at 1:15 pm

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

    • Tina
      March 1, 2012 at 9:18 pm

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

  28. Ed
    March 1, 2012 at 5:50 am

    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.

    • Tina
      March 1, 2012 at 9:18 pm

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