Jason Ginsberg / 8.30.2022Home / guides

How to migrate to a new email account

Switching emails? Here's how to migrate to a new email account without losing any of your contacts, old inbox, or custom domain.
Migrating from an old account to a new private, secure email.
Migrating to a new email account is no easy feat. Email is a main form of identity on the web, used for professional communications, keeping in touch with family, and critical accounts - including bank accounts and insurance reports. In this blog, we’ll cover the considerations, processes, and constraints you may have when migrating to a completely fresh email account. This includes email migration tools that automate the process of transferring data, tutorials for enabling email forwarding, and new email service providers that make it easy to switch.
Four billion people use email today - and the average email user has almost two email accounts. As a result, millions of people consider switching, migrating, or simply opening new accounts every day. A decade ago, people typically sent mass emails to their contact list reminding contacts of their new mailing address; now, automated tools and checklists can make this process increasingly painless, regardless of your previous email provider.

What’s on your migration checklist?

Email forwardingEmail forwarding is perhaps the oldest and simplest way to begin your migration process. We’ll briefly walk through the process to set up email forwarding for Gmail and Outlook, but most major providers will have tutorials in their documentation as well. Email forwarding will automatically send all incoming mail from your old account to a new email address of your specification.Gmail
  1. After visiting gmail.com, in the top right, click Settings (gear icon) > See all settings.
  2. Click the Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab.
  3. Under "Forwarding", click Add a forwarding address.
  4. Enter your new email address and select Next.
  5. A verification message will be sent to your new email address. Click the verification link in the message.
  6. Go back to the Gmail settings page and refresh the page.
  7. Click the Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab.
  8. In the "Forwarding" section, select Forward a copy of incoming mail to.
  9. Click Save at the bottom of the page.
  1. In the top right, click Settings.
  2. Select View all Outlook settings at the bottom of the Settings pane.
  3. Click the Forwarding tab on the left sidebar.
  4. In the "Forwarding" section, select Enable forwarding.
  5. Enter your new email address in the "Forward my email to" field.
  6. Click Save at the bottom of the screen.
Email importEmail import provides greater simplicity, confidence, and peace of mind when switching accounts by transferring your entire old email inbox to your new email provider. Depending on your old and new account, you may be able to automate the transfer process, or you may have to export your inbox as files and import them again. However, there can be downsides to completely transferring an inbox from one provider to another. These include exhausting your storage space (depends on your provider’s storage space) and transferring any annoying spam, marketing, or promotional emails left in your old account (the worst outcome is to immediately transfer thousands of emails and regret your decision).Automated import: Some mail providers, such as Skiff for Outlook inboxes, allow you to log in and import email with one click. This process takes only a single step to transfer your entire inbox; after signing in and granting permissions to the new service, it will automatically transfer them to your new provider.File import/export: Otherwise, you may need to export your emails as MBOX or EML files. While Outlook exports emails as EML files, Gmail exports MBOX files that can be imported into another mail provider. Other email accounts, such as Hotmail or Yahoo, may provide export access via IMAP, which provides another automated method for transferring your inbox to a new provider.Domain namesSwitching to a new domain name is perhaps the most straightforward part of the email migration process. First, you’ll need to ensure you have access to your domain’s DNS management records, likely through a DNS provider (Google Domains, GoDaddy cPanel, Namecheap, etc.). Then, you’ll need to replace existing DNS records - namely MX and TXT records - with DNS records for your new email provider. Email providers offer different tutorials for migrating MX records; for example, Outlook’s guide is linked here.
Mobile, desktop, and IMAP accessBefore migration is complete, you’ll likely want to access your new account on a variety of platforms, including native desktop and mobile apps. Generally, all email providers offer native mobile applications, access via mobile webmail, and even purpose-built tablet apps. Depending on your communication needs, you may want to consider whether other access mechanisms are needed (such as API, IMAP, or automated access to your email account for automated email sending, filtering, or more).

How to choose a new email provider

Choosing an email provider can be a daunting task: What account will store future years of your life? We encourage considering a new email provider on these usability and quality factors:
  • Ease of use: If you’re a frequent email user, you may check your email hundreds of times every day. Having a product that functions reliably, performs responsively, and works on all of your devices is a critical necessity. We highly recommend testing out your preferred provider’s iPhone, Android, and desktop apps, and, if needed, iPad or tablet applications as well.
  • Privacy: Email providers maintain vastly different privacy policies and terms of service. While some providers maintain the right to show you advertisements in your inbox, or based on the emails you view, others (such as privacy-first email providers) show no targeted advertising or can never read the content of your inbox. Legacy email providers - such as Hotmail and Yahoo - generally have the weakest privacy protections. At Skiff, we highly encourage focusing on privacy protections as one of the most important factors in choosing your next email provider, particularly when you may store medical information, family communications, and financial documentation inside your email account. After using an inbox for years, you will want to remain confident that you trust the company and organization behind it.
  • Integrations: Integrating email into other products and apps is also a critical need in signing up for a new account. For larger email providers - namely Microsoft and Google - email is integrated into a suite of products for collaboration and communication. Other providers also offer robust product suites, such as Skiff - with Skiff Pages and Drive - for file storage and real-time writing and collaboration. In many contexts, integrating email with real-time collaboration and file storage may be useful for sharing contacts, sending links, or uploading files.

Create your new email address

At this point in your migration process, you’ll want to have a new email provider ready to go. Ideally, in following the migration checklist above, your new email address will have domain names set up, email apps downloaded onto your mobile devices, important old emails imported into a new inbox, and forwarding working seamlessly from your old account to new. Now, you simply have to make a final choice on email service provider.Given the enormous number of global email users, the largest providers, including Gmail, Microsoft Outlook, and Yahoo, have become exceedingly popular. However, a new ecosystem of privacy-first email providers - such as Skiff, Proton, and Tutanota - are becoming popular for hundreds of millions of users.Above, we advised making a decision based on usability, privacy, and integration with other products. But, this decision need not be final - and you can always try multiple providers for free and choose the one that best suits your needs.

Recommendations, tips, and tricks for a painless switch

Beyond the checklists above, we have a few tips that might make the transfer process easier:
  • Test email forwarding: Once you’ve set up forwarding (see instructions above), we recommend testing with some sample emails to ensure that mail is properly delivered to your new address.
  • Add an auto-reply: Most major mail providers, including Gmail and Outlook, allow users to set up an auto-reply email that will automatically respond to incoming messages. So, when an important contact sends you a note, you’ll be able to automatically respond with a message about your email address.
  • Keep your old email address around, at least for some time: You may want to search for old emails, contacts, attachments or more. Furthermore, if you chose not to transfer emails from your old account to your new account, you may need access to this data.
  • Consider a custom domain: If you purchase and set up a custom email domain (as in, not the default @outlook.com or @gmail.com addresses), switching email providers becomes significantly simpler. Instead of migrating to a completely new address, you’ll be able to keep your old address but migrate to a new provider, new mobile apps, and more.

Finally, native mail products can make the process of transitioning to a new email address simpler. The mail applications built into many desktop clients, such as Thunderbird, Apple Mail, or the mail applications on iOS and Android, enable users to log into multiple email accounts on the same device. For a time, you may consider logging into both your old and new email addresses on the same device and switching between them. Eventually, once you’ve imported mail, set up apps properly, and informed your contacts, you’ll be ready to fully make the switch.


In this blog, we covered many critical steps to consider when transitioning to a new email address. Although moving so much important information - messages, attachments, contacts, and more - to a new platform can be intimidating, incremental steps such as forwarding, email import, and using your own domain can make this process easier. With constant innovation in email privacy, providers, and apps, we recommend continuing to try new email services until you find one that best suits your communication needs.

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