How to Consolidate Multiple Inboxes into One

By Glen Allsopp

July 14, 2009   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

clearing a massively crowded inbox. At the time, I had 5 email accounts and they all had thousands of emails into them. From the advice on that post, I showed how anyone in a similar situation can get the size of their inbox down, quickly and efficiently.

What I didn’t touch upon in that article is how I managed to merge all of my inboxes together. I went from 4 that I would check daily, and 1 that I would check weekly, to only using one now every single day. With more and more people moving online each day, there are new services coming out to handle our needs and multiple solutions that people use.

My first email account was with my school, and then I moved to Lycos, and then to Hotmail (which was purchased by Microsoft). These days, as a webmaster, I use Google Apps to give me an email address that not only includes my domain name, but gives me all the features of Gmail.

In this article I want to share my tips on consolidating your inboxes into just one in order to make life a little easier.

Organise Each Account Before You Move Anything
Before you forward all emails to the one account you have chosen or import them anywhere, tidy it up first. You can find most of my tips on this here, but as a summary:

  • Un-subscribe from email lists you no longer care about
  • Turn-off unnecessary communications from social networks, forums and the like
  • Search for phrases which you know will only show junk messages and remove them all at once
  • Make sure you save your password and registration type emails before removing anything

Once you have your inbox clear, you can then look at consolidation.

Import All Necessary Emails
Now that things are tidy, you will want to move all important emails from each account into their final home. The process on how to do this will vary greatly depending on what type of email set-up you are using.

Some great guides for some of the most common moves can be found on the following sites:

  • Moving from Hotmail to Gmail – Here
  • Moving from Outlook to Gmail – Here
  • Moving from Outlook to Thunderbird – Here

If you are using some other service or moving your emails in a different direction, a quick Google search will usually help you with your specific needs.

Forward Future Emails from Each Account
Now that all your emails are in one place, you still don’t want to go back to other services to check for new emails. Before ‘leaving’ each account for good, you need to make sure that future emails each receives will all go to the same account.

You can do this in Gmail by going to Settings; Forwarding; Then enter your email address

You are also given the option to choose whether you want to keep incoming emails in this newly redundant account or simply forward to your new account and then delete in the old.

To forward Outlook emails somewhere else you can go to Tools; Rules and Alerts; Then create a new forwarding rule

Update Friends & Websites With Your Email Address
The solution of forwarding isn’t very useful if you still have to open Outlook or Thunderbird everyday for emails to be forwarded to your final account. For this reason, make sure you tell your friends, co-workers and family about your change of address.

It might be best to do this by sending out a mass email.

Similarly, it’s a good idea to update your email address on websites you use or lists you subscribe to so that you can guarantee proper delivery of your emails. Examples of this include your Facebook, Twitter, MySpace or online forum accounts.

Choose Your Email Signature Carefully
Some people have multiple email accounts because one is for business and one is for personal use. If that is the case, I recommend you keep things that way unless otherwise necessary. In my situation, I had multiple personal accounts that didn’t really need to be separate.

I run a lot of websites and each have their own contact form, so I had to be especially careful about the email signature I choose. If people are emailing you about one thing and your signature is related to something completely different, it’s likely that they will be confused.

See if there is an option in whatever client you are using to be able to switch between multiple signatures either manually or based on certain words that the email contains. This way you won’t be sending out any confusing messages.

Have you had the pleasure of consolidating multiple inboxes? How did it go?

Glen Allsopp

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