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When I switched to Gmail more than a year ago, I still had a significant amount of old email stored with my old address. Because I keep messages for a long time and like to frequently search them, I wanted to move my old email to Gmail so it would all be in one place and I could access it on any device, including my mobile phone.

In the end, the move went smoothly, but I picked up a couple of tips along the way that I thought were worth sharing.

Setup
First, you need to tell Gmail how to retrieve your mail from old accounts using POP. Go to Settings > Accounts > Get mail from other accounts > Add another mail account. A new window will pop-up asking you for the email address you're going to import mail from. Fill this in and click on "Next Step."

I found it useful to label incoming messages with "Imported" (use any thoughtful label you can think of), so I could easily identify imported mail later on.




Then, validate with "Add Account" and finally, select "Yes, I want to be able to send mail as yourname@gmail.com." I'm a big fan of using the "from:me" search in Gmail that lets me look for email I sent using any name or address by simply searching "from:me." I wanted to make sure I could continue to find everything I’ve sent under all my old addresses and aliases, and this last step makes that work.

Sending mail from your old address
If you would still like to have the option of sending mail from Gmail that appears to recipients as if it were sent from your old email address, you can set up a custom "From:" by going to Settings > Accounts > Send mail as: > Add another email address.

Click on "Next Step" and then "Send Verification." You'll receive an email with instructions on how to validate your old address. Once it's set up, you can select this address in the "From" field when replying or forwarding.

It might take a while for Gmail to fetch everything from your old account, but the end result was definitely worth it for me.

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Since Google's applications are "in the cloud," we can act on feedback and release new features very rapidly. Sometimes, though, we like to listen and learn from users before launching updates to businesses, schools and organizations that use Google Apps.

Gmail's revamped codebase was one such case, and we're happy to mention this update is now rolling out to Google Apps users who haven't already opted in to get the latest improvements. Employees, students and other Google Apps users will soon start seeing useful features like these: And if you want to stay up to date on the latest Google Apps improvements, our new RSS feed can help you learn about changes to Google Apps as they happen. To subscribe to this feed, click this "Add to Google" button:



If you're a Google Apps administrator and you'd rather start getting new features right away instead of waiting, you can change a setting in the control panel to automatically get future features as they're released.

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Yesterday, we launched Google Calendar Sync, a tool that lets users sync Google Calendar with Microsoft Outlook calendar. Using it, you can access your Google Calendar information offline, access your Outlook calendar information online from any computer, and sync your Outlook calendars across multiple computers. Check out Shirin's post on the Google Blog for more information.

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I recently discovered some little-known ways to use your Gmail address that can give you greater control over your inbox and save you some time and headache. When you choose a Gmail address, you actually get more than just "yourusername@gmail.com." Here are two different ways you can modify your Gmail address and still get your mail:
  • Append a plus ("+") sign and any combination of words or numbers after your email address. For example, if your name was hikingfan@gmail.com, you could send mail to hikingfan+friends@gmail.com or hikingfan+mailinglists@gmail.com.
  • Insert one or several dots (".") anywhere in your email address. Gmail doesn't recognize periods as characters in addresses -- we just ignore them. For example, you could tell people your address was hikingfan@gmail.com, hiking.fan@gmail.com or hi.kin.g.fan@gmail.com. (We understand that there has been some confusion about this in the past, but to settle it once and for all, you can indeed receive mail at all the variations with dots.)
For me, the real value in being able to manipulate your email address is that it makes it really easy to filter on those variants. For example you could use hikingfan+bank@gmail.com when you sign up for online banking and then set up a filter to automatically star, archive or label emails addressed to hikingfan+bank. You can also use this when you register for a service and think they might share your information. For example, I added "+donation" when I gave money to a political organization once, and now when I see emails from other groups to that address, I know how they got it. Solution: filtered to auto-delete.

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A few months ago I wrote about how using colored labels with filters can provide an entirely new way to visualize your inbox. I just started using a feature that further helps me quickly prioritize my email. When enabled, "personal level indicators" put arrows next to messages in your inbox so you can tell if an email was addressed to you, a group, or a mailing list that you're on.

A single arrow ("›") is automatically placed next to emails sent to you and others, and double arrows ("»") next to emails that are sent just to you.



I personally get a ton of email from lists (mostly from my college days when I subscribed to student group lists after a campus activity fair), so it's helpful to see my inbox annotated with arrows that tell me which emails are likely to warrant replies. If I get a bunch of emails with no arrows at all, I know they are probably from mailing lists. Give it a try for yourself by switching the "Personal level indicators" option to "Show indicators" under Settings.