May 13th, 2009 | Published in Gmail (Google Mail)
Gmail users can be a passionate bunch. Many of us have, at one time or another, encouraged or cajoled friends and family to join us @gmail.com. But switching email accounts can be pretty painful. It's like getting out of a relationship. You have so much baggage — years of emails and contacts, memories of past Christmases and Valentine's Days — so the easier your new email account can make it, the better. My wife flirted with the idea for two years before she finally took the plunge with Gmail. The reason she finally made the switch might also convince your friends that it's a good time to adopt a shiny new Gmail address.
Gmail now migrates email and contacts from other email providers, including Yahoo!, Hotmail, AOL, and many more. It's much easier to make the transition now that you can bring along all your old email and contacts. You can even have your messages forwarded from your old account for 30 days, giving you time to take Gmail for a test drive while you make up your mind.
This new feature is available in all newly-created Gmail accounts, and it is slowly being rolled out to all existing accounts. It'll take longer than the few hours or days that most Gmail features take to get out to everyone. You'll know it's on for your account when you see the Accounts and Import tab (formerly just called Accounts) under Settings. Sorry, businesses and schools using Google Apps won't see these new migration options.
Everyone can still use POP3 mail fetching and upload your contacts in a CSV file, but this new way is much simpler for basic imports. And we like it when you can access and move your data the way you want — it's been easy to auto-forward all your Gmail messages to any other service, and now it's a little easier to go the other direction too.