Gmail adds import functionality

May 15, 2009 | 12:46

Tags: #beta #gmail #google-mail #import

Companies: #google

It's not just the search engine team who are busy over at Google: the Gmail staffers are putting in the hours to add some snazzy new features as well.

As spotted by CNet yesterday, Gmail now supports – finally – the ability to easily import message and contacts from your existing webmail service, making it as easy as possible to give Google access to every e-mail you ever send or receive.

Users of the popular free web-based e-mail service may have spotted a change to the Settings function, which has changed the “Accounts[i]” tab to read “[i]Accounts and Import.” By filling in the relevant details in the new tab, users are able to import both messages and address book entries from a fairly impressive selection of mail providers.

The supported providers list reads like a roll-call of webmail services including Microsoft's Hotmail, MSN, and Live.com services along with a selection of ISPs including Orange, Freeserve, and Tiscali. If your particular service isn't included, Google will be adding to the list over the coming months as the service rolls out across all Gmail users.

The importation technology – which is powered by TrueSwitch from Esaya – even allows for a soft crossover period, whereby messages sent to the old account for the next thirty days will be automatically forwarded to your Gmail account. Google does mention, however, a 24-48 hour delay both for the initial import and any subsequent messages received – so you may want to ensure that the more important contacts change your e-mail address sooner rather than later.

The new functionality, which Google describes as “currently available to only a small subset of Gmail users” comes as the company starts to feel the competition from rival webmail services including Microsoft's Hotmail. With other webmail services matching Gmail's impressive storage offering byte-for-byte, it's clear that Google needs to make life as easy as possible if they're going to convince people it's worth making the switch.

Will the new functionality convince you to make the move and join the Gmail masses, or do you think that there's something still missing from Google's offering? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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