Using Thunderbird with Gmail: Keeping old emails in Gmail, but off your hard drive

  • Thomas Owens

    I'm currently using Gmail through Thunderbird with IMAP so that I can digitally sign and encrypt my emails as well as work with emails that are digitally signed and encrypted. I like how, with IMAP, labeling can be done through the email client. I want to make some emails available locally (I honestly haven't decided on a policy yet, but I would like to be able to select certain emails, either individually or by tags) while having others only reside on the server (and if that means I have to go into Gmail to get them, I'm fine with that).

    Can this be done? If so, how?

  • Answers
  • JNK

    I don't think it can be done with IMAP, unless Tbird allows you to only synch certain tags. The nature of IMAP is that it keeps your client in synch with the server in real time, which precludes having some emails on the server but not on the client.

    You could do this with POP and the setting to "keep copy on the server" then delete the local copy, but you would lose your encryption and labeling functionality.

  • Wollen Muts

    I believe there is an option that you can only download e-mail to your hard drive if they have a certain label. You might wanna look into that.

    That does mean however that those e-mails must have the label attached already.

  • Related Question

    email - Import folders from Thunderbird to gmail?
  • davr

    I've been using Thunderbird for a while to manage my email, with a POP server, where all the messages are downloaded to my local machine, and then I sort them into folders.

    Now I want to migrate to gmail, but it is essential that I can keep my folder structure...I have about 100 folders in Thunderbird, many of them nested folders.

    How can I import all these folders into gmail, so that I can access them from anywhere? I want the folders converted into labels I guess, I've seen that greasemonkey script that lets you "nest" labels, like "parent/child" becomes a nested label.

    I tried with IMAP, but Thunderbird only lets me drag a single folder at a time, and it seems like half the time it doesn't even import the folder after dragging it. I want an easier way that I can just set it to run, and it will import anything.

    Thanks for any tips.

  • Related Answers
  • 8088

    Actually, I was able to successfully create a folder and a subfolder on some random account using Mail on Snow Leopard, populate them with a few messages and then export the hole structure on my Gmail account by just drag & drop.

    The result is the expected messages with labels:

    enter image description here

    You first need to find someone with a mac and Mail, and then you can use Eudora Mailbox Cleaner to import from Thunderbird into Mail. I know this isn't quite straightforward, but it seems to work at least.

  • davr

    Perhaps I could export from Thunderbird to Outlook first, and then use Outlook's IMAP support to upload to gmail? I've seen some posts saying that it works well, hopefully better than my experience with uploading from Thunderbird to gmail via IMAP.

  • 8088

    Check this (only for Windows):

  • ridogi

    I've had success using as an upload vehicle to IMAP accounts in the past. I haven't used it, but google has a tool for Windows users if you import to Outlook first: It does require a google apps account though, not a regular gmail account.