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Backup or archive all MIT email to Gmail


  • Could someone assist me in figuring out how to forward all of my old emails to my Gmail account.
  • I'd like to find out how to forward all of my folders from my MIT email to Gmail.
  • I'm trying to forward my MIT email to Gmail and it's not working. How do I do this?


IS&T can only provide limited support for these methods
Please note that IS&T does not support Gmail, cannot guarantee that these instructions will work, and may not be able to answer questions about the instructions.

There are three ways to do this. If you have your own computer, you can set up a desktop mail program to copy mail between MIT and GMail. If you do not have your own computer, you can run some commands on Athena to re-send your mail to GMail. Gmail can also download mail as a "POP" client. This method only works for the old mail servers (POX.MIT.EDU) and not for Exchange accounts.

Solution 1: IMAP copy

The easiest option is if you have your own Windows or Mac computer, you can use a mail program, to connect to both your MIT mail and to Gmail. Then you can simply open one of your MIT folders, and directly copy its messages across to a GMail folder.

The basic steps are:

  1. Set up your mail program to connect to your MIT email.
    See the "Configure Your Program " section of (or call the Computing Help Desk at 617-253-1101)
  2. Set up your mail program to connect to Gmail.
    For instructions on configuring a desktop mail program to read your Gmail mail via IMAP, see: (Which is from Gmail Help -> IMAP )
  3. Drag-and-drop messages from your MIT folders to your Gmail folders.
    We've heard some reports that Gmail puts limits on message transfers, so we recommend copying only a few hundred at a time, checking after each batch to verify that the copy worked.

Solution 2: Re-send each message

Not suitable for large quantities of messages
Do not use this method to try to transfer the entire contents of your MIT email account. They should only be used on small quantities of messages.
This command emails your mail to Gmail
This means that when the mail arrives, the date on the mail will be "today"! Some people cope with this by sending mail in batches, and then labeling each batch as it arrives.
The command used will send one message per second. If it were sent any faster, there is a risk that Google think you are a spammer, and Google could block your mail. At one message per second, it takes 20 minutes to send 1000 messages, and 3 hours to send 10,000.

To send your mail to Gmail, you follow a few main steps:

  1. Log in to an Athena workstation.
  2. Decide which folders to send to Gmail.
  3. For each folder, run a command that will send all that folder's messages to Gmail.

Details for each step follow:

Step 1: Log in to an Athena workstation.

If you are still on campus, it is simplest to go to an Athena cluster and log in at the keyboard of one of the Unix machines.
If you are not on campus, you can connect to an Athena workstation using SSH.

  • If you have a Macintosh, run the "Terminal" application, and type "ssh" at the command prompt.
  • If you have a Windows PC, you can download and install a program called "SecureCRT" from If you run SecureCRT and connect to the "Athena" profile, you will ssh to
  • Either platform can SSH into athena using MindTerm SSH at:

Note that one disadvantage of the Athena dialups is that the dialups log you out if you have not typed anything for a while. This can be a problem, because forwarding mail is slow, and the Athena dialup might log you out in the middle of the forwarding. (It takes about 20 minutes to forward 1000 messages.)

Step 2: Decide which folders to send to Gmail .

You can get a list of your folders ("mailboxes") by running the "mailusage" command at the athena% prompt. In addition to showing mailbox names, it also shows your how many messages are in each mailbox. It may look something like the following:

 athena% mailusage
 Size in KB   #Messages  Mailbox
         88           6  INBOX
     109875       14017  INBOX.Spamscreen

We suggest copying the list into a notepad or editor window, so that you can refer to the mailbox names in the next step.

Step 3: Send each folder's messages to Gmail

Finally, you can re-send your mail to Gmail by running a command from the "consult" locker. First you run "add consult", to make the commands in the "consult" locker available. Next, you run "imaptogmailbeta" and you give it the address of your Gmail account, and the name of the mailbox to re-send.

The double-quotation marks around the mailbox name is important if your mailbox names include characters like space (" "), ampersand ("&"), or other special characters.
  athena% add consult
  athena% imaptogmailbeta  --mailbox="INBOX"
  athena% imaptogmailbeta  --mailbox="INBOX.Spamscren"

When you are done sending mail, you should verify that all the messages arrived at GMail before you delete the mail from the MIT system.

IS&T Contributions

Documentation and information provided by IS&T staff members

Last Modified:

April 22, 2016

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