How to move from Gmail to Outlook.com

Ready to jump ship from Google's mail service? Here's how to make a smooth, painless move to Microsoft's new alternative.

So you've decided you like the cut of Outlook.com's jib, so much so that you're ready to ditch Gmail and move your mail into Microsoft's camp. Easier said than done, right?

Actually, it's less complicated than you might think. In fact, you can keep your Gmail address active while still managing all your messages in Outlook.com. Here's how to make your move.

Sign up for Outlook.com

It goes without saying that if you want to manage your mail in Outlook.com, you'll need an Outlook.com account. To get one, just head to the site and follow the prompts to sign up. However, if you already have a Hotmail, MSN, or Windows Live account, you can sign in using those credentials and you'll immediately get upgraded to Outlook.com.

Set up Gmail email forwarding

From now on you'll want all email messages that come to your Gmail account to get forwarded to your Outlook.com account. Easy enough:

1. Sign into your Gmail account and click Settings.

2. Click the Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab, then click Add a forwarding address.

3. Enter your Outlook.com email address, then click Next. Confirm the address by clicking Proceed.

4. Keep that Gmail tab or window open. In another tab or window, open your Outlook.com account and look for an email from Gmail with a verification code.

5. Back in the Gmail tab, type or paste that code into the "confirmation code" field, then click Verify.

6. Enable Forward a copy of incoming mail to [your Outlook.com address], then choose whether to keep, archive, delete, or simply mark-as-read the original Gmail copy of each message.

7. Scroll down to the bottom and click Save Changes.

Import old Gmail

Now that you've configured Gmail to forward all future messages to your Outlook.com account, you may want to import all your past and present messages as well.

Outlook.com doesn't offer a direct method for doing this, but a free service called TrueSwitch can copy all your mail quickly and easily. Note the word "copy": TrueSwitch doesn't remove any messages from your Gmail account, it merely copies them into your Outlook.com account so you can manage them there instead.

To use it, simply enter your Gmail address and password, then your Outlook.com address and password. (TrueSwitch was actually designed for use with Hotmail, and in fact still refers to that service, but it works just fine with Outlook.) As you'll note in the options section, TrueSwitch can also copy your address book and calendar, which might save you a step later on (see below).

Note that it can take a full day to import all your mail, which will arrive in a new folder (GMAIL_Mail). Thankfully, TrueSwitch preserves all your Gmail labels as well, mapping them to corresponding folders in Outlook.com.

Add your Gmail address to Outlook.com

Assuming you don't want to shut the door 100 percent on Gmail, you can configure Outlook.com to send new messages from your Gmail address -- only as needed, of course. Here's how:

1. In Outlook.com, click the Settings icon in the upper-right corner of the screen (it's represented by a small gear icon), then choose More mail settings.

2. Click Sending/receiving email from other accounts, then Add another account to send mail from.

3. Type your Gmail address, then click Send verification email.

4. Now it's back to your Gmail inbox, where you should have an e-mail from Outlook. Open it, then click the verification link.

You're done! Now, when you compose a new message in Outlook.com, you'll have the option of selecting your Gmail address from the drop-down "From" menu. Bear in mind that recipients will see a "sent on behalf of [your Gmail account]" header in those emails, but Microsoft promises to give you the option of modifying (or perhaps eliminating) that in a future update.

Import your Gmail contacts

Outlook.com wouldn't be very useful without your Gmail address book. Thankfully, it's a simple matter to import it:

1. Click the little down-arrow next to the Outlook logo, then choose People.

2. Where it says "Add people to your contact list," click Google contacts.

3. Follow the prompts to "connect" Outlook.com to your Google address book.

Depending on how many contacts you have, it may take a few minutes (or longer) for Outlook.com to fully populate its People list with those addresses. Alternately, you can use the aforementioned TrueSwitch, which can also import your Google calendar.

Want to migrate the other way, from Microsoft email to Gmail? That's even easier.

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Rick Broida

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