Ah, the eternal quest to save some extra coin. Inflation, am I right? So, the latest target on my budget hit list? Google Workspace.

I’ve been a loyal user of Google Workspace for years. Back when it was called G Suite, those were the days, weren’t they?

But now, for me, there’s hardly any difference between Workspace and free Gmail. So, it’s time to migrate from Google Workspace to a personal Gmail account.

Before You Dive In

Hold your horses, partner. Before you make the leap, make sure you’ve got your ducks in a row:

  • Your old Google Workspace Account
  • Your shiny new Google Personal Account

But before you even think about migrating, back everything up. Here’s a quick checklist for you:

  • Google Drive
  • Drive > Storage
  • Google Photos
  • Google Mail
  • Google Calendar
  • Other Google Apps/Features like Meet

Download everything locally and sift through it. Delete the clutter and manually upload what you need to your new account.

A word of caution:

  • Once you’ve migrated your emails, they might lose their organization. Say goodbye to those neat labels and folders.
  • Take your time. Rushing through backing up your data could lead to regrets. Once you delete your Google Workspace account, there’s no turning back.
  • Don’t miss a thing! Triple-check Google Drive Storage to ensure you haven’t left any important data behind.

Okay, let’s get this party started!

The Migration Conundrum

Your initial search might lead you to ask, “How do I migrate Google Workspace email to personal Gmail?” and you’ll find yourself on a Google Workspace page, which unfortunately, isn’t as helpful as you’d hoped.

“The short answer is: no. Takeout is useless for most Google services because you can only export data and can’t import anything back.” says a helpful Redditor from Reddit.

Even the all-knowing Google Gemini AI is vague.

Takeout Troubles - Google Mail

After painstakingly downloading your Google Drive data, head over to Google Takeout. Select mail and opt to have it sent to your email.

For me, after years of emails, it was only a ~700MB download.

So what do you get?

A zip folder with an mbox file and some other configs.

Now, dear migrator, you have two paths:

  1. Utilize a trusted CLI tool called Got Your Back (BYG).
  2. Or, opt for a trusted email client with a random plugin.

The choice is yours.

If you choose path one, there’s a helpful video and wiki.

After dabbling with both, option two worked for me. Mostly.

Take note of the number of emails and their total size.

Thunderbird Takes Flight

It’s fairly straightforward, but here are the steps:

  1. Download Thunderbird.
  2. Log in to your new personal Gmail Account.
  3. Add the random import plugin.
  4. Right-click ‘Local Folders’ and select Import.
  5. Choose the ‘Import… subfolder’ option and locate the exported Google Takeout data.
  6. Drag and drop the backed-up email data from Local to Gmail.

Thunderbird upload

  1. Sit back, relax and grab a drink.

As of writing this post, my ~700MB is still uploading.

It’s stalled around ~40%, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it continues.

But the emails uploaded so far are all there. Confirmed on other devices.

[UPDATE] Thunderbird repeatedly times out and stops uploading. After 8+ tries, it’s at ~60% complete… this process feels dodge. But it’s slowly working.

[UPDATE] More timing out, more dragging and dropping. But it’s working.

So, here’s hoping it works finishes!

Thanks to this video.

Check All Is Good

Check the file size usage.

Checking the file size usage

Ding ding ding! Looks like all my emails are now uploaded.

Keeping Email Functional

If you’re like me, you want to migrate off Google Workspace but still want to maintain a professional-looking email.

Enter Cloudflare Email Routing.

  1. Sign up for Cloudflare if you haven’t already.
  2. Head over to the domain from your old Google Workspace.
  3. Enable Cloudflare Email Routing.
  4. Ensure the old email is forwarding to your new personal Gmail.
  5. Remove any MX records.

MX Records

  1. Add new MX records and save.

Add new MX records

Wrapping Up

Let’s be real, this process is annoying. In the era of modern advancements, it’s moments like these that make you question technology a little.

But looking back, it’s not as painful as it felt during the process.

I say that now… but I’ll be doing it all over again for my wife’s workspace account soon.

So, maybe a video walkthrough is in order?

Stay tuned on YouTube for that!