Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Great Email Adventure, Pt. 1

You may have heard that Google has enabled IMAP for all users on their free Gmail web-based email application. What does that mean? I turn to for an excellent summation:
Why does IMAP matter again? Because unlike POP, IMAP supports back and forth communication between your offline email client and Gmail. If you set up your iPhone, Outlook, or Thunderbird client to read your Gmail using IMAP, every time you read a message it will be marked as read on the web interface. If you delete a message on your desktop, it will be deleted from the web. If you use POP, you'll have to repeat all of those actions twice.

Naturally, since it's a cool new technology, and my personal emails have been web-based (as opposed to a local application like Thunderbird or Outlook Express) for years now, this interested me.

And I must admit, ever since I saw the cool features that are in the new OSX Leopard mail client, I've been thinking about how nice it would be to have all of my email accessible and synchronized from both my laptop AND via the web.

After careful thought this week, I decided to plunge in and get everything up to my primary Gmail account. Unfortunately, this is where I hit the big snag. My primary personal email account has been on Yahoo! for years and years, but ever since 2002, Yahoo! has not allowed you to get to your web email from a local client, unless you paid a premium. I never cared that much, so I never paid the cash. Now, however, I'm tired of Yahoo and their old, outdated email interface (don't even get me started on their new, bloated email interface), so I was willing to pony up the dough to get off. But when I tried to actually go and pay for the premium service, I was greeted with this error from Yahoo!:

We Apologize
The service you are requesting is not currently for sale.
We apologize for the inconvenience.

User experience -- Google: 1, Yahoo!: 0

My next step was to track down a method to run through getting Yahoo! emails down from the server. Sure enough, lots of folks have solutions, the most popular being a program called YPOPs!
which installs a little mail server on your system that can interact with Yahoo! mail server and retrieve the messages in your account. This does require a local client to download the messages, so I fired up my old Thunderbird email client and followed these easy setup instructions.

Once the account was configured, I ran a "Get Mail" on that account, and sure enough, the email from my Yahoo! Inbox came pouring down into my client! Success!

Unfortunately, YPOPs! won't delve into my Yahoo! mail folders (where I've archived lots of stuff) to get old mails, so after I moved my "Inbox" contents to a "temp" folder in Thunderbird, I had to go through this laborious process:

  1. Move the contents of a Yahoo! folder to the empty Yahoo! inbox, but no more than 40 at a time (the limit for downloading seems to be 40 -- I don't know if that's caused by Yahoo! or YPOPs!).
  2. Rename the Yahoo! folder (so I knew which ones were done, usually by appending an "_" character to the front of the name)
  3. Run "Get Mail" in Thunderbird to get these messages from the Yahoo! inbox.
  4. Create a new folder in Thunderbird, and move the messages from my Thunderbird inbox to this folder.
  5. Move the emails from the Yahoo! inbox back into the (renamed) Yahoo! folder.
  6. Repeat, rinse and lather.

As you can imagine, with 1000's of emails, and Yahoo!'s 25-at-a-time viewing and 40-at-a-time download limit, this took a bit of time. But finally, all the emails were down onto my local Thunderbird client, properly organized in folders with the senders and dates intact.

Next time, I'll go over how to upload all these from the local client application, into Gmail!


Anonymous said...

ironically i am doing the same thing you are, with 7000+ emails yahoo and thunderbird is very frustrating


Anonymous said...

Aramiskane here again, i just found out thanks to reading your post that it is a ypops email download limit, and you can expand it, i have successfully increased the limit to 500 and i dont think there is a limit

yes all shall hate me, for mentioning it

bubba said...

I've been wanting to move to gmail too. I can't wait to try this out.

Anonymous said...

your template displayed incorrectly in my browser(chrome)

Ian H said...

Hmm...seems to render OK in my Chrome browser (3.0.195) on Windows. What version/OS of Chrome are you running?