I'm graduating from my university this month, and since my account will soon be disabled, I'm forwarding all the emails from my old account to a new one I created. (Exporting mail is disabled on my university account).

Question: Is there any way to retain the original labels I created for messages in my university account when they are sent to my new one?

Someone originally asked this question here, but the response provided did not actually seem to answer their question. Given the number of labels I created, manually recreating them in the new account and then setting up separate forwarding rules in the old account for each of them seems like it would be too time-consuming for me to realistically implement.

  • 1
    can you clarify what you mean by Exporting mail is disabled. The solution I provided requires you have the ability to access your account via IMAP. Do you have IMAP access to your account?
    – Blindspots
    Commented Jul 21, 2022 at 19:29
  • 1
    The best solution is going to be one where you do not forward your mail. I'm hoping that you have access via IMAP, as that will be the easiest for you. If you only have access via POP that is more complex but may also be workable with some effort on your part. In addition to the foregoing, more detailed info about the labels would be helpful. At a minimum the rough number and any logic you originally used to organize. Do they tend to be nested (i.e. in a hierarchy) ? Do messages typically share multiple labels, etc.
    – Blindspots
    Commented Jul 21, 2022 at 19:41
  • Yes, I have access via IMAP. The main thing I want to do is separate emails that Gmail has automatically classified as "Primary" from those classified as "Social" or "Promotions"
    – akm
    Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 20:30
  • Your question is about retaining labels you created. Your comment is unrelated to that.
    – Blindspots
    Commented Jul 28, 2022 at 5:09

1 Answer 1


Do Not Forward

Don't forward the messages if you are trying to preserve them as forwarding the emails does not move the email from one account to another but creates a brand new email message that is different. Different contents, different date/stamp, different recipient(s), sender, different headers, different label structure etc.

If archiving is the goal then the effort should be on moving the messages with as little change as possible.

Backup and Restore

To this end you can back up (archive) your messages from the first account, and then restore them to the second account with as little changed as possible. You might want to maintain all the existing labels but also add an extra label on restore.


You can use the following project to backup and restore emails between accounts including labels.

Got Your Back (GYB): https://github.com/GAM-team/got-your-back

From the author:
Got Your Back (GYB) is a command line tool for backing up your Gmail messages to your local computer. It uses Gmail's API over HTTPS.


GYB Documentation:

GYB Google Discussion Group:

Per the author: Please direct "how do I?" questions to Google Groups.

  • I think that your answer will be better if you provide a brief explanation regarding why you are using this tool instead of forwarding the email messages as the OP is doing. Commented Jul 18, 2022 at 20:41
  • Thanks. I should mention, my university has restrictions on exporting the messages so that’s why I’m forwarding them. As @Rubén noted, any clarification on using this tool would be helpful, though I appreciate your response!
    – akm
    Commented Jul 19, 2022 at 21:18
  • Per @Rubén I edited my answer yesterday to explain why I didn't recommend forwarding. Per your comment I have now added links to documentation and support.
    – Blindspots
    Commented Jul 20, 2022 at 21:04
  • If you detail the "restrictions" I can better understand if that changes my answer.
    – Blindspots
    Commented Jul 20, 2022 at 21:06

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