Danie Roux

People person, change agent. Journeyer through problem and solution space. Interested in being interested.

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Getting all your mail out of Gmail

December 22nd, 2006 · 2 Comments · general

Google Apps launched a few weeks ago. This week I wanted to transfer my email from the old email account (the one that ends with @gmail.com) to the new one. I thought it would be as easy as POP’ing1 all the email from the old account with mutt and then bounce it straight onto the new email address.

That worked. But only if I wanted to transfer only a third of the email. Or more correctly, all the email after 17 December 2005. I enabled POP in Gmail and got this irritating message:

”POP is enabled for all mail that has arrived since 12/17/05”

Now, I’ve had this Gmail account since April 2005 and there is a lot of email there that I do not want to lose. But Google only gives me access to one third of that! I submitted a request via the Gmail Help Center and all I got was a generic message stating that “my request will be forwarded to the teams”. Not helpful.

I have to stress this again: Gmail does not give you POP access to all your mail. Beware.

So I went in search of alternative solutions to get to all my mail. I found libgmail, a Python library that “provide access to Google’s Gmail web-mail service”. It also ships with “one demonstration utility to archive messages from an Gmail account into mbox files”.

I needed to hack archive.py1, the demonstration utility, a bit to make it more robust to network failures. I also added the ability to resume2 after a total breakdown.

After all that, I am now in the possesion of all of my own mail.

So why does Google make it so difficult? I thought that my data will be my data and accessible when I wanted it? I will have to be a lot more on my guard about Google from now on.

1 archive.py is part of the libgmail-docs package.

2 Necessary feature for the unreliable bandwidth I have access to.

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2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Phil // Feb 25, 2007 at 05:53

    It’s a bit late now, but I believe you can reset the date for the POP downloads from the “Settings” >> “Forwarding and POP” >> “Enable POP for all mail (even mail that’s already been downloaded” or some combination of the options.

  • 2 Danie // Feb 25, 2007 at 08:25

    That does not seem to work. I tried that, and retried it 3 weeks later. Using both my @gmail account and my @acolyte account.

    No matter how many times I tried, I could still download only part of my email. Usually the last 30%.

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