So I got tired of Yahoo! Mail and wanted to move to GMail. However, to get your mail out of Yahoo you’ve go to use POP3… and for that feature you pay $20/yr. Right. Sure. I’m going to pay $20 to leave Yahoo… Wrong.
I had read many schemes for trying to get out of Yahoo’s clutches for free. I tried a few that were so clunky I was about to pay the $20. And then I put together a few of ideas strung together from the various options I had found, and I introduced free IMAP at GMail to Mozilla Thunderbird.
Thunderbird has a nifty feature called WebMail. It basically screen scrapes to read your mail in Yahoo — no POP3, no $20. That’s right Jerry, you better start laying off a few more people. WebMail has Thunderbird extensions which will grab your mail from Yahoo, Hotmail, Lycos, mail.com, GMail, Libero or AOL. The intention is to permit you to use Thunderbird as your mail interface to these Web-based mail systems and to store your mail locally. However, I realized it can also be used as a conduit between POP-less Yahoo and IMAP-full GMail.
So, I setup a WebMail account within Thunderbird that accesses my Yahoo mail (follow the above link for those details). Tweak the connection timeouts in the Yahoo extension before reaping your mail. I set mine to 300 seconds. Assuming you’ve already created your GMail account, log on to that account in your browser and set your account options to activate IMAP access. Then setup a regular IMAP account in Thunderbird to access your GMail account. You could set up the screenscraper for both the Yahoo and GMail account, but the IMAP transfer is far, far faster, so since you have the free option of IMAP in GMail be sure to use it.
Now you’re set to move mail. Pull down your whole Yahoo! Inbox by clicking “Get Mail”. Once its transfered, select all items in the Yahoo Inbox and drag them to the GMail Inbox. Easy peasy. Doing Yahoo folders other than Inbox is a bit more complicated. Go into the Thunderbird ‘Tools > Add-ons’ menu and open the preferences for the Yahoo extension. Choose the ‘POP’ tab and add a folder you want to transfer. Its a bit laborious, but you should do this one at a time. The reason for this is the extension drops your Yahoo screen scraped mail, no matter the source folder, into your Thunderbid Yahoo Inbox. If you do more than one folder at a time or do not clean your Inbox between transfers, all the new mail from one Yahoo folder will get mushed in with existing mail in the Thunderbird Inbox. Even so, I find it amazing that this is the only tedious part of the process. I had about a dozen folders, and it wasn’t too painful. In fact, this process helped me to clean stuff out as I saw a lot wasn’t worth transfering and deleted it.
- At the WebMail site, the FAQ is short but helpful, so are the screenshots. “Component” generally refers to the specific extension for the Web e-mail system you are trying to connect to (e.g. the Yahoo! Mail component/extension). You access the options for it in the Tools > Add-ons menu, just like a FireFox extention/addon.
- The instructions for setting up the Webmail account suggestion that you to use a POP account for your screenscraper. The screenshots are a bit old, and I used a ‘WebMail’ account… honestly I think there’s no difference, its just less confusing.