chapter : 2 Integrating Your Existing Mail

Gmail is probably not your first e-mail account, but its features may well make it your best. Certainly it’s likely to be the one with the biggest amount of storage available and such an exemplary search system.

chapter : 2 Integrating Your Existing Mail

Importing Your Mail into

The most important thing for me, when starting to use Gmail
properly, was getting all of my existing mail into the Gmail system. Alas, Gmail doesn’t have an import facility, so in this chapter
you have to make use of someone else’s hack to get your existing
mail into the system. There are a few applications available to do
this, but none are as good as the one concentrated on in the following section: Gmail Loader

Gmail Loader

Mark Lyon’s Gmail Loader (shown in Figure 2-1), which you can
find at, does the
trick very nicely indeed. It’s available in versions for Windows,
OS X, and Linux, and in a source-code version. To quote the
author, “The GMail Loader is a graphical, cross-platform,
Python-based utility that supports two mBox formats (Netscape,
Mozilla, Thunderbird, Most Other Clients), MailDir (Qmail,
others), MMDF (Mutt), MH (NMH), and Babyl (Emacs
RMAIL). Eventually, I plan to add support for direct sending of
IMAP accounts, and am working on a library that can read and
export Microsoft Outlook PST files.” (This was in December
2004. That addition may well have happened by now.)
˛ Importing your mail
˛ Using Pop3 with
˛ Imap for Gmail?
in this chapter
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12 Part I — Starting to Use Gmail
FIGURE 2-1: Gmail Loader on Windows
Mark Lyon’s own instructions (
are perfectly good, so you don’t need to walk through them here. There are some
general problems to point out, however, which are a result of the shortcomings of
the way the system has to work. Because there is no direct method to import mail
into the system, Gmail Loader (and its clones) rely on just forwarding the mail
from your existing account. This means that all date information is based on the
time the mail was received by Gmail, not on the time you originally received it
elsewhere. There’s no real way around this, although it can be worked around if
you want to find mail from, say, one particular month: Just use the search box to
look for it, or create a filter.

Setting Up Pop Access Inside Gmail

Log in to Gmail and click on the settings link at the top-right of the screen. Once
there, click on Forwarding and Pop. You should see a screen similar to Figure 2-2.
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Chapter 2 — Integrating Your Existing Mail 13
FIGURE 2-2: The Pop mail settings inside Gmail

Setting Up Pop Within an Application

Full instructions on setting up the Pop mail access within individual e-mail 
applications are available directly from Gmail at
For expert users, the settings, shown in Table 2-1, are very simple indeed.
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14 Part I — Starting to Use Gmail
Table 2-1 Pop Settings in Gmail
The Setting What You Set It To
Incoming Mail (POP3) Server requires SSL
Use SSL: Yes
Port: 995
Outgoing Mail (SMTP) Server requires TLS (use authentication)
Use Authentication: Yes
Use STARTTLS: Yes (some clients call this SSL)
Port: 465 or 587
Account Name Your Gmail username (including
E-mail Address Your full Gmail e-mail address ([email protected])
Password Your Gmail password

IMAP for Gmail

Gmail’s features, the labeling and stars specifically, do not have counterparts in the
standard e-mail world. There’s no facility within any e-mail format to apply labels,
for example, to your mail. It’s not surprising, therefore, that there is no existing
mail application that could understand or use them. Mail exported from Gmail
does not take its label with it.
Nor once the mail has been exported can the exported copy have any effect on the
original. Moving an exported mail into a different locally stored folder doesn’t
change anything on Gmail itself.
Both of these facts are, in my view, great disadvantages to the idea of offline working with Gmail. The first is a difficult problem, but the second can be solved by
replacing the Pop interface with one based on another standard: IMAP.
Gmail does not support IMAP at the time of this writing. No matter: The second
half of this book looks at building a Gmail-to-IMAP proxy server

And Now . . .

In this chapter, you have moved your existing mail over to Gmail, integrated
Gmail into your desktop, and looked at settings that will allow you to access
Gmail from other applications and devices. Altogether, this means that Gmail can
now be used as your primary e-mail application.
In the next chapter, you look at ways to improve how you use Gmail itself: power
tips and the tricks of the advanced user. Once you know those, you can move on
to reverse engineering Gmail and use it to power your own applications.

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