Moving back office services from one domain to another with Google Apps

Google has great tools to help you migrate *into* google mail. They support a number of sources, but they lack in the ability to move from one Googlemail (aka google for domains) to another Google for domains account.

For example, how do you safely, completely, accurately and quickly move from googlemail system on to

The sure and best way I found, despite searching high and low and inquiring with our mail admin was to simply do this manually. Obviously this doesn't help the admin that is trying to migrate 30 or more mailboxes by himself, in one night or weekend so that things are working when the users come in the next time.

There are the technical difficulties of actually redirecting mail from one domain to another. Assume those are taken care of. All I really care about here is NOT loosing any of my existing information. Including:

  • e-mail messages.
  • contacts
  • filters
  • labels
  • and last, but not least Documents.


Imagine we are moving from to

To move e-mail messages, I went with Thunderbird. The process is simple enough and unless necessary I won't describe it in detail (let me know in the comments if you'd like this clarified).

Install Thunderbird. Configure it to get e-mail from, depending on your mail system you need to give it enough time to finish downloading all messages (usually overnight) and you need to make sure your computer has enough space to hold the total amount of storage gmail reports, then double it for the new domain which we'll use later, it wouldn't hurt if you had an extra 2 - 3 gigs free just in case. This works with IMAP so make sure it is enabled in your gmail account(s).

I have a total of 902mb of mail on this particular account so I think its safe to assume that I'll need 2 - 2.5 Gigs of free space.

Follow the instructions on how to setup an imap account for gmail on Thunderbird. Make Thunderbird get ALL the messages. Let it rip and take a nap, go out and play, go to a movie or something. It will take a while.

After getting all your old mail, configure the new account for You'll do it the same way as the previous account and it must be an additional account in Thunderbird so you can see both at the same time.

Test both accounts (just for your sanity) to make sure they both work; they should be able to send and receive mail.

Move folders from one account to the other and as you move them, let it do its thing until its complete. It might take a few tries or a long time. But once  you finish moving your folders from your old account to the new account, all your mail should now exist in the new gmail account, and it should be visible from the web, or any other client like an iphone.


Export them from the web interface, save them somewhere and import them to the new account. this is easy.


Gmail labs now has a lab feature to export your filters and it should import them without a problem. I could not imagine having to recreate all the filters I have.


These are roughly equivalent to folders so if you got your mail moved over like I described above (move folders not individual messages) then your labels should exist as they did in the previous account.


This is the biggest sore for me, there isn't a bulk export, or save option. You can export one at a time and then re-import them. Another option is to configure your system for offline use of google docs, then extract those and then import them back into the new gdocs account. YMMV, but the lifehacker website has a lot of information on this kind of thing.
To be safe, I backed each document manually by exporting it in Open format. Then just to test it out, I shared all the documents, with full permissions to my new account. I tested that I could see the documents from the new account, and now even after weeks of having the old domain out of service, the documents remain in my new account so I didn't even have to re-import them from the backup.

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