Email Mapping for Fun and profit
I have been emailing habitually since 1995 and the creation of my first Hotmail account. Over the years I have accumulated new email address, let old ones die and woven an intricate system of forwards, pop fetching, labels and filing systems and filters.
Using gmail, my system was really effective…until I decided to move.
Inspired by some insightful feedback from a good friend, I decided to take my principle email identity over to a brand new hosted gmail account, casey[at]caseycapshaw[dot]com. I no sooner started the process when I realized this would be more complex than it appeared.
Fetching old Emails
I found a great tutorial for pulling emails into the hosted gmail account. Figured I would pull all 27k emails from my old email “hub” (using the “get mail from other accounts” feature in Gmail) into the new one in case i needed anything from the archives. At the time of writing this, it is actively pulling mails. We’ll see if they all make it.
The main problem with this is that I have a system of labels in my old gmail hub that neatly parse all the archive emails so I can find old things easier. I can find a way to preserve the labels through the transfer so I bit the bullet and will rebuild labels anew. The start of the new year is a good time to purge filing anyway right. If I really need to find an old thing, the labels will still be active at the old gmail hub and I can go login there to find them.
I had no idea where some of the mail I had forwarded to my old gmail account was originating or how to tie all this to my new email profile. This called for a map.
I mapped out all my accounts and the forwarding/pop/imap action happening in each. This wasn’t too hard as I had most of them forwarding to the gmail account anyway. It’s just a matter of pointing them to the new account. This web of forwarding seemed to be the most important job to tackle first. I would worry about organization later.
In my new account(we’ll call C-mail for now) under setting>accounts, I added all the email accounts and verified them so I would have the ability to “send from” those email addresses within C-mail. That’s how I had it set at my old gmail so as not to confuse when replying to an email that was forwarded in. I did this while all the accounts were still pointing to the old gmail to make the verification process a one stop affair.
One at a time, I logged in to all my email accounts and reset the forwarding to point to C-mail. It helped to use Safari for these accounts and leave C-mail open in Firefox.
For the accounts that are in gmail or hosted gmail, this can be found under settings>forwarding and pop/imap. I set mine to forward and ‘leave a copy in the inbox.” I then created a filter to “mark as read” all emails that come to that address (this is just a personal preference, you could just as easily leave them unread.)
Then came the labels. This got a little ugly.
I use a system for my labels in gmail. P/ projectname for active projects, OLD/ projectname for old projects. I also have an S/ Action and an S/ Reference for status. I am going to try out gmail’s new task feature with this transition so I may no longer need action and reference.
Finding no elegant way to make the transfer, I simply copied all my existing labels from the old gmail into a spreadsheet. I created new labels, one at a time, in C-mail corresponding to each of my P/ project labels.
I replicated my filter system, which automatically applies project labels based on the account the mail was sent to. Something sent to contac[at]thenewmanpodcast[dot]com get the handy label P/ The New Man right when it comes in the door, saving me a few cycles a week. I only had about 10 filters in use so I just replicated them manually.
Contacts and Calendars
Calendars were easy. I simply added the C-mail account to all the calendars I had access to “make changes and manage sharing.” I had to request an invite under my new C-mail account from two calendars that had been shared with my old account.
Contacts were easily exported from gmail and imported into the C-mail account. The one problem is that it did not preserve my “groups” so I will have to recreate these if I want them in C-mail. If anybody has any suggestions on this, please leave it in the comments.
Wow, that was geeky! But I feel so much better about my unified email system and updated personal brand. I updated my system map for my own reference and ended up with 11 email accounts, all integrated into a streamlined and efficient Google hosted mail account under this domain.
Branding is preserved across multiple projects and domains without any of the hassle of multiple logins. My personal brand feels more solid and professional with email under my own domain.
If you would like help setting up your own system, email me at casey[at]caseycapshaw[dot]com for an analysis.