2012-06-03

How to migrate your entire Google account to a new one

I've been using a Google account since years, but having a "more serious" one along. The time has come to make the switch and elect the other as main one.

Google has a lot of services, and I'm using several of them, so changing the main account requires to migrate data of those services to the new account, given it's not possible to merge two accounts. To know the full list of services your account is signed in, go to your Account Product page. Some migrations are easy, others hell no: so I'm writing this post to keep track of the migration as it's going on.

First of all, there's a really good post about this migration at LifeHacker: it contains a lot of info I'm using here, but not all the services I need. Additionally, Google has a list of services and methods to migrate from one account to another.

Just to be generic, I'll call AccountSRC the original account and AccountDST the one I want to migrate to.

Migrate GMail

GMail is probably the most important service I have, and also the most difficult one to migrate. I have a lot of filters, so the first step is to migrate them:
  1. Login into GMail for AccountSRC
  2. Gear icon > Settings > Labs
  3. Enable the "Filter import/export" plugin
  4. Reload GMail to enable the plugin (if not done automatically)
  5. Gear icon > Settings > Filters
  6. At the bottom of the page, Select all
  7. Export: this will download an XML file with the filters in it
  8. Login into GMail for AccountDST
  9. Enable "Filter import/export" plugin
  10. Load the file containing the saved filters
  11. Import all (or select which one) filters; this will also create automatically the labels defined in the filters.
I currently have a forward rule from AccountDST to AccountSRC: so let's revert the forward direction: from AccountSRC to AccountDST. This will allow the new account to receive the mails sent to the old one.
  1. Login into GMail for AccountDST
  2. Gear icon > Forwarding and POP/IMAP > Disable forwarding: this will stop redirecting mails from AccountDST to AccountSRC
  3. Login into GMail for AccountSRC
  4. Gear icon > Forwarding and POP/IMAP > add a forwarding address
  5. Enter AccountDST as the address to forward mails to
  6. A verification code is sent to AccountDST and you'll need to enter that code in AccountSRC to verify you have access to both mailboxes
  7. Once verified, select "Forward a copy of incoming mail to" to AccountDST and to delete the GMail copy on AccountSRC
There's no automatic way to migrate all your settings from the old GMail account to the new one, so you'll have to comparing settings pages to set what you had before to AccountDST. I suggest to first enable the labs you have on AccountSRC, and then go thru every page and report the configurations.

Did I forget something? yes, the hardest part: migrate mails! There are a lot of guides about migrating mails, the way I prefer is thru IMAP and Thunderbird (as described here): you'll move IMAP folders, and since they are equivalent to GMail labels, you'll automatically get your email with the correct labels (yes, the same mail appears in several folders, one for each label, and moving an email from one folder will not remove it from all the others).
  1. Enable IMAP access on both AccountSRC and AccountDST
  2. Open Thunderbird (or Icedove if you're on Debian like me) and register both accounts
  3. You can now start moving folders/emails from AccountSRC to AccountDST
    1. Copying a (missing) folder, will automatically create a label with the same name
    2. Moving a mail from the same folders on the two accounts will add the label called with the name of the folder to that email
  4. Be ready, it's a LOOOOONG process, but it's safe and it guarantees a perfect result
With the method above you have all the labels you had before, but not the label colors (and I have a lot :( ).

Another tool that's would be interesting to evaluate for this task is Gmvault.


Migrate Contacts

Contacts are available inside GMail:
  1. Login into GMail for AccountSRC
  2. On the combobox on top-left, select Contacts
  3. More > Export
  4. Export all the contacts in Google CSV, since it's specific to be re-imported
  5. Login into GMail for AccountDST
  6. Contacts > More > Import
  7. Select the previously saved file and import it

Migrate Reader

Migrating Reader subscriptions is easy:
  1. Login into Reader for AccountSRC
  2. Reader Settings -> Import/export
  3. Export your subscriptions in OPML format
  4. Now login into Reader for AccountDST
  5. Reader Settings -> Import/export
  6. And import the saved OPML file
Sadly, that doesn't migrate your starred items, but there's a (long & manual) solution here.


Migrate Blogger

Login to Blogger for AccountSRC; then, for each blog you have there do this dance:
  1. Select the blog
  2. Go into Settings > Permissions
  3. Add AccountDST as a new author: this will send an email to AccountDST GMail account
  4. Accept the invitation (this will ask you to create a new Blogger account for AccountDST if you don't already have one)
  5. Go back to to Blogger with AccountSRC
  6. Blog > Settings > Permissions
  7. Grand admin rights to AccountDST
At this point, both AccountSRC and AccountDST have admin rights; you can leave it as it is, or remove AccountSRC and so only AccountDST will be the admin (other shares should be kept unchanged). The same procedure is described in this Google support answer.

What can't be migrated as easily are all the profile settings you've done on AccountSRC. So profile information, blogs followed and so on have to be migrated by hand: boring but they are just few things, doable in a bunch of minutes.


Migrate Android phone

Android phones require a primary Google account to work, and of course my phone uses AccountSRC. Several sources say the only way to change primary account is to factory reset the phone. But since new market app supports multiple accounts and Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) not longer needs a primary account, I just waited for the update to ICS to come.

What you really need to do is to add a new account, AccountDST, to Settings > Account & Sync, and all the Google apps on the phone will be able to use the new account (you might need to select what to sync, and the new account from inside each app).


Migrate Calendar

Even with Calendar the settings will have to be migrated by hand: they are just in one page, so just keep two windows opened and keep switching to sync them. The calendars are easy to move over: for the main calendar:
  1. Login into Calendars for AccountSRC
  2. Go into Settings > Calendars tab
  3. Select export calendars: this will download an archive of your calendars in a zip file; you will need to extract all the ics files from that zip archive so you'll have the main calendar readily available
  4. Login into Calendars for AccountDST
  5. Settings > Calendars tab
  6. Import the main calendar
for the other calendars you can do this way:
  1. Login into Calendars for AccountSRC
  2. Settings > Calendars tab
  3. Share the calendar with AccountDST and give it "Make changes AND manage sharing" right - the new account will have full control over that calendar

Migrate Docs

The procedure to migrate documents in Google Docs (now Google Drive) is described here, and it boils down to:
  1. Login into Docs for AccountSRC
  2. Select all the documents
  3. Share them with AccountDST
  4. In the same window select AccountDST as "is owner"
and you've got all the docs as owned by the new account.


Migrate Groups

There's no way to migrate all your Groups subscriptions from one account to another (if not playing with alternate email address, but it was too risky to try it), so you'll have to migrate all of them by hand.

On the other hand, if you've created some groups, that's possible to move them to the new account:
  1. Login into Groups for AccountSRC
  2. Enter in the "manage" area for the groups you've created
  3. Manage members > Invite members
  4. Invite AccountDST
  5. Accept the invitation, clicking on the email sent to AccountDST account
  6. Go back into AccountSRC manage area
  7. Select the AccountDST account
  8. Edit the subscription and set "Membership type" to "owner": now AccountDST is the owner of the list

Migrate Analytics

The process to migrate the account on Google Analytics is similar to Groups:
  1. Login into Analytics for AccountSRC
  2. Select Admin on top-right, then for each account you have
  3. Select the account, select "Users" tab, click on "+ New User"
  4. Enter AccountDST into the "Email Address" field and give that account the "Administrator" role
  5. Save
  6. Now AccountDST is able to access the same data on Analytics as AccountSRC

Migrate Picasa

To transfer your whole Picasa account follow these steps (as also described in this support post):
  1. Login into Picasa for AccountSRC
  2. Click on the gear on top-right > Photo Settings > Privacy and permissions
  3. On the "Migrate account" line click on "Migrate my photos"
  4. Insert AccountDST into the box for destination address
  5. In case you're using picasa to store blogger photos, also select the tick below
  6. At this point, AccountSRC will receive an email: copy the link in a session where you've logged in as AccountDST and then visit the page: that will start the process
  7. Wait until the transfer is completed: you'll receive an email to AccountDST when it's done

Migrate Google+

I'm not exactly a heavy user of G+ but I have some circles I'd like to move over (also because Reader sharing now works with G+ and it's a feature I user a lot), this is a process to move circles and contacts; as stated there, there's no way to move shared items and stuff (sad!).


Migrate AdSense

It's not possible to migrate the current AdSense account: you have to register a new one. When you do, it's possible that Google notice the new account is for the same person of the first one, and will ask to close the old account on AdSense in favor of the new one.


Migrate Alert

Alerts allows to export the list of alerts you've created but it's not possible to import that list in another Google account, so you'll have to recreate them from scratch (I had just a few so it was a matter of 1 minute or so).


Migrate Zoho Notebook

If you still miss Google Notebook (why big-G you let it die? couldn't you open-sourced it? it was so awesome! anyway...), you probably know that there are two main alternatives to it: Evernote and Zoho Notebook. I decided to go with Zoho (I'm not entirely happy with it, but it's running for now), and given it allows to login with Google account, it was currently using AccountSRC, so I need to migrate that too:
  1. Login into Zoho Notebook for AccountSRC
  2. My Account > Profile > Email address
  3. "Add new email" and add AccountDST, it will send a confirmation email
  4. Then "Make Primary" on AccountDST, so now the new account can login into Zoho notebook with the Google info and have all the notes there.

Migrate Bookmarks

Google provides a guide to migrate Bookmarks from one account to another that basically is:
  1. Login into Bookmarks for AccountSRC
  2. Click on Export bookmarks and it will save an HTML file with the bookmarks in it
  3. Import the file in a browser
  4. Use the Google toolbar to import in into AccountDST
That's kinda ugly way, but it seems to work.


Re-enable Web History

If you used History, then you need to re-enable it on the new account:
  1. Login into History for AccountDST
  2. Click on "Turn Web History on" to enable Web History on the new account
but it seems to be impossible to export/import or migrate the history from one account to another, that's a shame: years and years of stats lost.


Migrate Books

Books doesn't allow to migrate the contents between accounts, so you'll have to do it by hand:
  1. Select one book from AccountSRC, copying its link
  2. Go to AccountDST and navigate to the copied link
  3. Add the book to the right category, as it was before.

Migrate Webmaster Tools

Google released a document that describes how to migrate to another account; it's similar to Analytics and Groups migration.

In addition to that, you might also want to become an owner, that will give full control on the sites.


Did I forget some services? Let me know!

Everyone has a different experience with Google products, so in case you want me to let know how you migrated from one account to another for a product I didn't mentioned, just leave a comment and I'll edit the post (to be as complete as possible).

16 comments:

Grant Phillips-Sewell said...

Thank you for such an in depth guide. I have managed to move over some of my stuff from one account to another already but I will definitely be using this as a guide for moving over the rest of my things (when I finally get an internet connection again... using my phone at the moment and it's painful).

Grant Phillips-Sewell said...

Thank you for such an in depth guide. I have managed to move over some of my stuff from one account to another already but I will definitely be using this as a guide for moving over the rest of my things (when I finally get an internet connection again... using my phone at the moment and it's painful).

avsidknaxta said...

There is an error in your text: Android phones do not at all require you to have a Google account. I have an Android phone and I do never entered my Google account data into my phone. I do not use the Google market, however, but F-Droid.

Sandro Tosi said...

@avsidknaxta: what phone do you have? what version of android?

crystal brown-hartman said...

youtube

Nithin Chillal said...

Thanks a lot for the guide!

Brennagee said...

I changed my gmail address and wanted to move all accounts to the new more professional email account address. Your guide was very helpful. Thank you.

Mark Isero said...

Wow, thank you for this very helpful and informative post. I found the Lifehacker one, too, but yours made me calm and ready to take on this challenge.

Yes, I would add YouTube and Voice. I'm a little stressed out about Voice, even though Google offers a method to migrate.

Thank you again.

Unknown said...

Google Talk too (and YouTube as mentioned earlier)

NocturnalEruptions said...

In the meantime, Google made a small wizard for Youtube at least: https://www.google.com/dashboard/migration/?srcAccount=source@gmail.com&dstAccount=destination@gmail.com

Emmanuel Dreux said...

For migration of the Google Drive:
http://www.cloudiway.com/products/cloudiway-files-migration/

For migration of the mails:
http://www.cloudiway.com/products/cloudiway-emails-migration/

alex said...

Great idea, thank you for sharing another strategy!! keep it up.. visit- Youtube Support

Tamiran said...

What I want to migrate is Google Play Store and my paid apps. I have bought quite a few apps and now I still don't know how to migrate to another Gmail account.

marian dumanayos said...

Some services have their own tools for migrating data from one account to another and others just use a simple export and import process. Let's take a look at the specific first, and then go over how you can migrate everything else with a tool called Google Takeout.

buy soundcloud plays

Aeldra Robinson said...

Great idea, thank you for sharing another strategy!! keep it up

google migration

Tim Wolpert said...

Great article!

By far the easiest way for me though is g-transfer.com because it does pretty much everything (the entire Drive, folders, Gmail with labels, Contacts, Calendars, etc.

BUT if you're looking to migrate stuff like your youtube videos and picasa you might want to use takeout--but it won't export shared files.

For people looking to migrate Google Play, it can't be done, sorry!