How to Switch Email from PC to Mac

So you finally did it. Made the big move and jumped from PC to Mac. Only problem is you have switched computers and all of your stuff is still on your PC…  Including your beloved email: your saved forwards, the love letters you’re saving so you can impress your wife the next time you do something really bad, and let’s not forget the immortal argument you won against your film-geek friend that George Lucas did indeed steal your childhood. So how can you move it, make the switch, and get all of your emails over to your Mac? Let’s take a look.

Delete Them – Before we start, ask yourself, and be honest, do you really need your old emails? Are they really THAT important? When was the last time you went back to an old email? For a lot of us the answer is never.  In fact the only reason a lot of us HAVE archived email is because we’re simply too lazy to delete any of it. If your email isn’t that important then save yourself the hassle and don’t bother transferring it. If you’re holding onto your old PC then you have an even better reason to not bother. If you need an old email you can just boot up your old PC and find it.

The Cloud – The cloud is your friend. What is the cloud? It’s a doofy marketing term. Here, I’ll explain. Back when computers were new, a large office would have only one central computer. The screens and keyboards you’d see on everyone’s desk were actually only terminals connecting into that central computer.  Files, programs, everything was stored on that central machine.  History goes in circles and it’s in the process of coming around again. This time though “the central machine” is the internet (“the cloud”) and your full fledge computers we have are the “terminals”. Why do I bring this up? If your email is stored in the cloud (ie, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo) then you don’t have to ever bother moving your mail as it’s already available to you from any computer (including your phone) that has an internet connection. Apple’s own cloud program is known as MobileMe and can be found at:

Alright, with those two suggestions out of the way, let’s move on to actually transferring your mail. There are a few popular methods.

IMAP – “Internet Message Access Protocol” Alright, so what the heck does that mean? Basically, IMAP mail accounts act as your own personal cloud.  Depending on your internet service provider, any of your email accounts/addresses could be changed to an IMAP account, which means your emails are now stored on your internet service providers server instead of your computer. Cloud email services like Gmail can also use IMAP, but I don’t want to confuse you. Too late? Oh well. has a great article on transferring your files over with IMAP that you can find here:

AOL – If you have AOL then your best option is to set up your AOL software to store the AOL mail messages on AOL’s servers instead of your own PC.  Then it’s just a matter of downloading AOL’s software on your Mac (or just viewing it through a web browser).

Thunderbird – If you already use Thunderbird, great! If not, it can be used as a handy bridge between getting your emails off of Outlook and onto your Mac. Unfortunately for Mac users, Outlook doesn’t let you just export a file over to your Mac. With Thunderbird though, you CAN; thus all you need to do is export your Outlook files to Thunderbird, then over to your Mac. Mahalo has a great guide on how to do this; check out step 3:

Flash Drive/Burned CD –There is a middle ground between deleting your emails and transferring them. In a lot of cases, you know all of your emails are safe to delete, yet you still have that little voice in the back of your head whispering that there might be something you forgot.  What I suggest then is using Thunderbird to create an export file, then saving that file on either flash drive or CD. Just in case.No matter how “easy” people claim changing computers may be, there’s still going to be a learning curve. With these tips in tow though, you might be able to keep the hassle down to a minimum.

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