Import old email archives into Gmail using these open source tools from Google

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I'm a Gmail user. You are probably a Gmail user. Hell, I bet your dog uses Gmail. Here's the thing though -- unless you are really young, you probably didn't use Gmail as your first-ever email account, right? Right.

If you are like me, you probably pre-date web-based email, and got your messages from an email client. In fact, many people -- especially in businesses -- still do, using such software as Thunderbird, Outlook or Evolution. The unfortunate thing, you see, is that those old emails aren't available and searchable in your Gmail account. But what if they were? What if you could import your archaic email archives (if you were smart enough to save them), saved on zip disks in a closet, into Gmail? That would be neat, right? Well, with the power of open source, you actually can -- maybe.


"Do you have an old Thunderbird mail archive that you downloaded from an old email account? Do you want to move those old messages to Gmail so that you can use the Gmail app on your phone and still have access to everything? Then maybe mail-importer is for you! The project aims to make it easy for users to import mailbox files from their computer to Gmail. The project is in early development and only has command-line support right now", says Google.

The search giant further explains, "or maybe you are a Google Apps administrator trying to import all of your users' old mbox files into Google Apps for Work? Then import-mailbox-to-gmail is probably what you’re looking for. It is a Python script that will do bulk imports of multiple mailboxes into multiple accounts in a domain. It's admin-managed, so your users won't have to individually import their archives".

If you want to try these open source tools yourself, you can download them at Github (mail-importer and import-mailbox-to-gmail). Unfortunately, mail-importer appears to only support Thunderbird at this time. If you used a different client, you will need to wait for a future update. If you are savvy enough, maybe you can tweak the source to make it work. I have a large Lotus Notes archive saved -- I won't hold my breath on that one being anyone's priority.

Do you have a Thunderbird-based archive that you will try importing into Gmail? Tell me how it goes in the comments below.

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