Gmail simplifies e-mail better than just about anyone, and now PracticallyNetworked.com shows how to bring your old e-mail files into Gmail. That was easy.
There's a lot to like about Gmail: a simple and friendly UI, lots of useful features, ample free storage, good spam filtering, and of course, ubiquitous Web-based access.
What makes Gmail especially handy, though, is using it to access e-mail that you received long ago (maybe even before there was such a thing as Gmail), yet still need to consult regularly. It turns out that if you have e-mail software like Microsoft Outlook that's chock full of previously downloaded messages, you can upload it to Gmail preserving the original dates so access to the old mail will no longer be limited to a particular PC.
The first step in the process (aside from creating a Gmail account if you don't already have one) is to configure your existing e-mail software to access your Gmail account via IMAP. (See this link for instructions on how to do so for a variety of popular mail clients like Outlook/Outlook Express, Thunderbird, and others.)
Why IMAP? Unlike the more commonplace POP mail, in which a mail client generally downloads messages and then deletes them from the server, IMAP is a two-way link between client and server in which both provide mirror images of the mailbox. In a nutshell, by setting up Gmail in your existing mail software and using it to transferring your old mail to your Gmail account, you're simultaneously uploading it to Gmail's servers where it will be available whenever you use the Web-based client.
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