How to Consolidate Email Accounts

Category: Email

A reader asks: 'I have several email accounts, and it is a nuisance to check each one. I also have trouble keeping my address books in sync, and when I am looking for a certain message, I have to check in several inboxes. Is there an easy way to consolidate all my email accounts in one place?' Yes, here's my suggestion...

How to Move All Email and Contacts Into One Account

I understand your dilemma. For various reasons, people often end up with multiple email accounts on several hosts: Outlook (formerly called Hotmail), Yahoo, Gmail, AOL, etc. It gets confusing and hard to keep track of. It also takes a lot of time to check for new mail on all the services.

The good news is that it is possible to consolidate all those email accounts into one, without losing anything stored on the other services.

You'll probably want to keep all your email accounts active and receiving mail, at least for a while. Those addresses are out there and if people don't know your new address, they have no other way to reach you. But you want mail sent to those other inboxes to be forwarded to your "One Address". That way, you only need to log onto one place, saving lots of time. Simple is better.

consolidate email

I chose Google's Gmail for my One Address. It's reliable. The Gmail name is widely used by both personal and business users. Gmail is searchable in many useful ways, and its spam filter is highly effective. Best of all, Gmail lets you consolidate all your other email accounts very easily.

You could just logon to all your email accounts, and send a change of address message to everyone in your address books. And you should do that, but it won't really help you consolidate everything without a lot of extra effort.

Of course you want to import to your One Address all your email contacts from the other services, AND your old email saved on those services. Gmail lets you do all that with a few simple steps.

Using Gmail's Import Feature

After logging into Gmail, in the upper right corner, click on the gear icon, then Settings. Next, click the "Accounts and Import" tab. Then click on "Import Mail and Contacts" and just follow directions. One by one, you will enter the email address and password for each of your other accounts.

You'll be given the option to import contacts and old mail and to import new mail arriving at the old address for 30 days. Click "Start Import" and go do the same for your other email accounts. To check the status of your import, look under Settings > Accounts and Import. Your imported messages will show up with a Gmail label that matches the email address you're importing.

Google advises that the import process may take several hours, even up to two days, before you start seeing imported mail. In actual practice, I started receiving mail imported from my Yahoo account within minutes. Your experience may vary. But importing goes on without you, you don't even have to be logged on to Gmail.

Before importing from other accounts, it's a good idea to review and delete old mail you really don't need, and keep the keepers. Focus on the oldest and largest messages as candidates for dumping.

From here on, you have only one webmail site to manage, and just one username and password to remember. Email checking will go much faster with only one account to check. And you'll have all your contacts and messages in one place as well.

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Most recent comments on "How to Consolidate Email Accounts"

(See all 27 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

06 Apr 2020

I’ve had multiple addresses ported to my Gmail account for well over a decade. It works very well. I can select the “from” address from a drop down on both new and reply emails. I never need to log into the other email accounts. Since it is web-based, I don’t have the limitation inherent to using a desktop client for consolidation. It’s really quite seamless.

Posted by:

Wayne Werth
06 Apr 2020

What Laurie just said...

Posted by:

06 Apr 2020

Another way around it is to use the mail package on a tablet or phone (I use Apple's on my iPad) which allows you to consolidate the in boxes of all of the mail accounts into one logical in-box. You then see everything in the 1 place, though it's possible to get swamped if all of the accounts get piles of emails. I have 1 main account and a few 'occasional e-mail' accounts, so it works well for me. And on the PC I also think Thunderbird is great (though using IMAP they are all separate inboxes on here.)

Posted by:

06 Apr 2020

I also am a Thunderbird(er)and the forwarding is instant, not several days or hours with no limit for how long it will do it.

Actually you're not forwarding in Thunderbird. TBird fetches your email from all your other

Tbird's junk filter and message filters are dynamic and, IMO, can't be matched.

Another big selling point for me is that your messages are kept local. I wouldn't trust the cloud to keep anything personal.

Posted by:

06 Apr 2020

I maintain an account for those sign-ups where I may want them to be able to contact me in the future (disposable addresses for those where I won't) and a separate address for friends and family.

I don't trust Google with anything, but that's your choice.

The local client solution works for me. Thunderbird is fine, but I started with The Bat! years ago and stick with what I know.

Each to their own, but rather than just pushing Google, Bob, you might have mentioned Thunderbird as an option.

Posted by:

06 Apr 2020

I've used Yahoo Pro for 22 years. I used gmail as my backup address, some businesses/services require that, I've also got an iCloud address I sometimes use as a backup. I don't use Gmail for much because I don't trust Google and never will. I don't even use Chrome more than once a month, they try to track you everywhere, all the time. I do use Firefox, Vivaldi and recently Brave (which is an outstanding browser) plus Safari occasionally. All my mail is already in Yahoo, I don't need another place to look. I like being able to access it via any web interface, I always have. See no reason to change that.

Posted by:

06 Apr 2020

I have 3 email addresses (2 gmail and 1 I simply forward the gmail addresses to my email account. (I prefer outlook's user interface, like having actual folders instead of "labels"). But that's a discussion for a later date...

In I also set up a rule to move emails from my gmail accounts to a folder in outlook so I know where they came from by glancing at my folder list in This step is of course optional.

The benefit is that all email accounts are still receiving emails from time to time which are immediately forwarded to my main email account. So, all email accounts remain "active" without me having to do anything special!

Working very well for me for many years.

Posted by:

Gary R
06 Apr 2020

I have used a program called Chaos Intellect for many years. Collect mail from all your addresses and also includes a calendar, tasks, agenda, projects and contacts. Great program that has everything in one place. Not free, but worth the price. They offer a free trial if interested. Love the search feature the most. You can find anything in any of those areas with a single search.
Also like not using Google and information is on your computer although they offer cloud service for a price.

Posted by:

06 Apr 2020

Add my name to the list of Thunderbird fans. I have been using it for 15 years and I have yet to find anything better. Accounts are easy to add, sync and even delete. Google does not need even more of my info.

Posted by:

06 Apr 2020

Does this (Gmail, Thunderbird, etc.) work for multiple email accounts from the same source? I have around 20 email accounts that I still use (and several I haven't tried for years). The active ones include 6 Gmail accounts, 8 AOL ones, and all the others from single sources. Can ALL of these be combined? And is there a limit? I get approx. 800 emails daily at what I consider my MAIN new contacts/junk mail-(A LOT)/updates/etc. address.

Posted by:

06 Apr 2020

To answer Martin's question (and maybe Stephen's)...Thunderbird lets you easily choose which of your multiple email addresses to send a message from. The account that you were reading just beforehand will be the active folder shown on the navigation pane of the Thunderbird interface. So if you click "Write", the new message window for composing will open with that same account already filled in as the sender. If you actually intended to write from one of the other addresses instead, the "From:" field has an arrow at the end to drop down a list of other accounts to choose from. That change can be made any time before you actually send the completed message.

A related nice feature is that you can set an option to always delay the actual sending of a message, *after* you click "Send", by a fixed amount of your choice. (I use 5 seconds.) During that delay, you can cancel (i.e., temporarily hold off on the sending) for any reason. For example, after you finished the body and scrolled to the top to find and click the Send button, maybe you noticed that the "From" or "To" address is not the right one. Maybe you realize you should add a CC address for an additional recipient (or that a CC really ought to be a BCC instead). Or maybe, in the calmness of waiting those few moments, you have second thoughts and feel you don't want that angry email to go out after all - or at least not just yet.

Using an email client like Thunderbird is always better for me, if for no other reason, because I can search through and read all my old mail any time I want, regardless of whether I am online. It's also easy to copy and paste content between messages in different accounts if needed. Both the emails and the attachments are saved locally, yet also can be saved in the servers of the individual email services (an option you can set differently for different accounts). I use a mixture of POP and IMAP style email handling, depending on what each provider allows for free. Accounts that are webmail based can still be accessed via a web browser, if necessary, such as when you need to use a borrowed or public device for some reason. In that case, of course, you will need to actually know your login credentials to login, which your Thunderbird client normally would handle for you.

Like Gmail, Mozilla';s Thunderbird is free, but it is also open source. And while Gmail may do well handling multiple accounts in some aspects, you need to be online to do anything with it. Finally, there is the fact that Google surely has too may tentacles into your life already. Your email communications are better off not being part of that as well.

Posted by:

07 Apr 2020

9 email accounts . . . Thunderbird!!!

Posted by:

07 Apr 2020

"WOW" - I had used "" for over 12 years on their dial-up service @ $12.50 a month and decided I needed a higher [faster] intercom server ,then Cox offered me 40 M ,rather than 40 G's per month. I jumped on it. . They walked me thru the Windows Address Book transfer ,but Cox could not help when I was not receiving my earthlink e-mails with my earthlink e mail addresses. All I have now is a windows icon with my earthlink "OK'D" addresses and a Link external acct address book that is not transferring.

Posted by:

07 Apr 2020

Yes! I see the value in consolidating accounts. Meanwhile, I do keep one account, which is for online purchases and it behaves as a "lightning rod" to direct spam away from my "genuine" accounts. Every couple of years I delete that account and set up a new "spam" account - and repeat that cycle. I receive almost NO spam on my good accounts!

Posted by:

07 Apr 2020

I am totally with Kevin - Google is too intrusive so I use Thunderbird.
Bob - you write that gmail spam filters work well - not in my experience, too many good emails from frequently used sources end up in spam (and thusly do not make it to Thunderbird) and Google delete them after thirty days, necessitating a visit (for each address)once a month to the gmail site to ensure something really important isn't in spam. No way to turn off the spam filter, neither. If you had to pay for gmail, you wouldn't stand for their poor performance.

Posted by:

07 Apr 2020

I have 9 different email accounts, genealogy takes up 3, then my wife has 2 and the rest are mine depending on whether it is my Church address or my American Legion address, or a private family address. All are in Thunderbird, I have not problem as I download my emails in the course of the day. It works well and I archive that which I want to keep and trash the rest. All in one account on my 1 terabyte disk drive. I backup every day, to the cloud and on a terabyte hard drive attached to my computer.

Posted by:

08 Apr 2020

Thank you, Kevin, and the answer to 'maybe Stephen's?' is no. Within Thunderbird, I have no problem selecting the correct from address. My question was aimed folks who wish to use any web-based email address such as gmail and how do they then send from a particular address if all their accounts are being auto-forwarded to their new main one. It was a question of curiosity, as I have no plans to move off of T-bird or the desktop Outlook program.

Posted by:

08 Apr 2020

I too would highly recommend Thunderbird. It's tremendously versatile and its folders viewing options are excellent. You can easily see all your unread messages in every account, favorite folders, recent folders etc.

Posted by:

10 Apr 2020

After about fifteen years, I've just stopped using (UK ISP) VirginMedia's webmail which collected from all my other email addresses too: like gMail, hotMail et alia. I recently left Virgin, so I had to edit many folders of saved emails and forward them to my new non-ISP address: an especially long and tedious job as Virgin only allows forwarding of six at a time. I've gone back to ThunderBird: which does a better job of collecting and sending from all my other email accounts - EXCEPT gMail. Google apparently thinks T'Bird is insecure, so it won't allow T'Bird to log into it to collect MY emails.
I had already long avoided that cash-distorted google search, and have recently been inadvertently mis-led by google's cross-device "syncing" which distorted and/or deleted many of my personal files on both phone and laptop. Thus I have increasing anxiety in the real motive behind Google's omnipresent and would-be omnipotent activities. Of course I've minimised use of my gMail address to logging into google for gMaps.
Long live collaborative non-profit programming: GO Mozilla! GO LibreOffice!
Please remember such wonderful free-to-user projects need a small donation from time to time.

Posted by:

20 Apr 2020

as if google needed more of (your) data to weed-whack thru; above and beyond (your) gmail account data... jeez, enuf already...

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