There’s dozens of reasons why you might want to switch to a different email provider. Whether its worries about insecurity (such as with Yahoo these days), Gmail’s disconcerting habit of ‘reading’ every email you type, or just the fact that you plain don’t like the features your current email provides, there’s always a better alternative.
One of the things stopping most people from doing so is that they’re too afraid they’ll be missing out on important emails, or that they’ll lose all their contacts in the process. If that sounds like you, don’t worry. You’re not the only one to find the whole switching email thing a little bit daunting, but there’s good news – it really isn’t that much of an ordeal.
In fact, you can easily switch to a new email account with Gmail, Outlook.com or just about any other service that takes your fancy, without missing any emails sent to your old address. You can even carry on using your old address to send mail if you want, as you’ll find out in this useful guide.
Depending on your old email service and the one you want to switch to, the process of setting everything up will differ. For the purposes of this guide, we’ll stick to the three most popular services around – Gmail, Outlook.com and Yahoo Mail (note that Yahoo is mainly included so I can show you how to leave them, I would definitely not recommend switching to it!)
Importing Contacts & Old Emails
Once you’ve signed up for your new email account, the first thing to do is to import your existing contacts and emails so they can be accessed without going back to the old account.
Gmail used to have a straightforward ‘import contacts’ feature but it’s since done away with it. Nevertheless, it is possible to do so by exporting your address book from your old provider. The instructions differ from service to service, and it’s probably easier if I let Google explain things from here on in. In any case, it shouldn’t take more than five minutes to set up.
With Outlook.com, the process is even easier – simply use the TrueSwitch wizard and enter the login details of your old account – that’s all you need to do.
Yahoo Mail is also fairly simple, just click on the “Contacts” tab in the top left corner, select “import contacts” then choose the service you wish to import from.
Chances are that when you switch accounts, most people are going to keep sending communications to your old email address, even if you tell them not to. Luckily, we don’t have to miss out on anything as your new email can be set up to ‘drop by’ your old account and ‘fetch’ those emails for you at regular intervals.
To be able to do this, you’ll need to configure your old account for POP3 access. Most services provide this, but Yahoo Mail quite outrageously asks you to pay for the privilege ($19.99 a month), although there’s a workaround for this as I’ll describe in the “Email Forwarding” section below.
Setting up email fetching in Gmail is dead simple. Simply click on the ‘machine cog’ icon in the top right corner, click Settings > Accounts > Add a POP3 mail account you own. From there, just follow the instructions to add your old account. You’ll need to go back to your old email once to click on the verification link Google sends. Once done, Gmail will periodically grab all new mails from your old account.
With Outlook.com, click on Settings (another cog icon), followed by More Settings > Your email accounts, then scroll down and click “Add a send and receive account”.
With Yahoo Mail, click on Options > Mail Accounts > Add. You’ll then be prompted to add your old email account.
One of the (few) advantages of Yahoo Mail is that it can also import older emails from your old account (rather than just the new ones as with Gmail and Outlook.com). To do so, you’ll need to configure things from your old account first. If you’re moving from Gmail to Yahoo Mail for example, you’ll need to go to Settings > Forwarding and POP/IMAP, then select ‘Enable POP for all mail. Once your account is added, Yahoo Mail will start grabbing all of your older messages from Gmail.
The alternative to email fetching is email forwarding. The difference is that rather than using your new email account to ‘fetch’ your messages, you set up your old account to automatically ‘forward’ everything to your new address. Email forwarding needs to be set up in your old account, and can be done so with considerable ease.
If Gmail is your old account, go to the Settings menu > Forwarding and POP/IMAP > Add a forwarding address and follow the instructions on screen.
When Outlook.com is your old account, go to Settings > More Mail Settings > Email forwarding, and then follow the instructions to add your new account.
Once again, Yahoo Mail rather annoyingly only allows this feature if you pay for it. However, thanks to Microsoft and its TrueSwitch wizard, Yahoo’s ‘controls’ can be circumvented. Yahoo Mail doesn’t allow POP access, but for some reason Outlook.com is able to grab mails from it anyway using TrueSwitch.
The only difficulty is if you’re moving from Yahoo Mail to Gmail – you’ll need to set up an Outlook.com account as well, grab the Yahoo mails, then either set up fetching or forwarding to your new Gmail account, depending on your preference.
Send Mail As
Aside from missing out on emails, a lot of people would actually like to continue using their old email address without being ‘trapped’ with their old provider. Thankfully, most services allow us to add alternative sending addresses.
In Gmail, go to Settings > Accounts > Add another email address you own. Follow the instructions to add your old email address, verify it in your old email, and then you’re good to go. From here on out, whenever you compose an email you’ll be able to click on the ‘from’ address and select your old ID from the drop down menu.
Outlook.com is much the same. Simply go to settings > more email settings > your email accounts > add a send only account, and then you’ll be able to send emails from multiple addresses.
With Yahoo, you can add new sending accounts by going to Settings > mail options > mail accounts > and then click “Add”.
Other Email Providers
Bear in mind that you’re certainly not limited to just these three services. There’s a whole bunch of alternatives that are just as good – two that I’d recommend include Hushmail for its iron-clad security (all emails are encrypted), and Yandex Mail for its built-in functionality (maps, search, cloud storage etc).
Both of these services, and many others, offer similar functionality that allows you to import contacts, set up forwarding/fetching and sending addresses. After all, they all want your business, and so they strive to make it as easy as possible to do the switch.