How to Change Your Email Address Without Giving Yourself a Headache

Published on December 18, 2013

There comes a point in most people's online lives that you decide its time to change your email address over to a new one.  

Change your email address

Maybe it isn't professional enough, maybe you want to have your full name in your email address, or maybe your email suffix is giving your professional brand a bad name. Whatever the reason, changing your email address over can be a huge hassle, IF you don't know how to do it.

Luckily, there are pretty easy steps that you can follow to ensure the transition goes over smoothly.

1. Pick a name that you're going to use (REALLY going to use)

Now that you've decided to go through this process, pick a name that is going to stick.  Fluffybunny2013 may not be a name you want to filter work emails through (depending on your line of work.)  As a general rule of thumb, you will want to avoid a name that is a) too cute b) offensive or c) nonsensical.   Firstname.lastname is always a solid choice.  If your name is a commonly shared name, consider including a middle name or initial.

Are you creating a company email address?  Nothing kills professionalism like having an @aol.com or even an @gmail.com end tag (unless you work for AOL or Google, of course.)  It is much preferred to have a [email protected].  For help with accomplishing this, check out these instructions.

2. Move your old inbox to your new one

Now that you've established your new, sustainable name, it is time to migrate your old emails to your new email address.  Here are some step-by-step instructions courtesy of Lifehacker for how to transfer your emails to both Gmail and Outlook - two of our favorite free online accounts.

Gmail:

  1. Sign into your Gmail account and click the gear icon, then select "Settings"
  2. Open the "Accounts" tab
  3. In the "Check mail from other accounts" section, select the "Add a POP3 mail account you own" option
  4. Enter your old email address and select "Next Step" and then enter your password
  5. Select the options you want (label incoming messaging, archiving old messages, etc)
  6. Click "Add Account"

Outlook:

  1. Sign into your Outlook account
  2. Head here and select the options you want. Click "Okay" to open up your Gmail account page
  3. Sign into Gmail. This starts the migration process

3. Set up email forwarding

Now that you've set up your new account, you should be ready to set up forwarding from your old email account to your new one, that will ensure that emails sent to your old address still make it to you.  If you're moving to dump all the old Spam and Newsletter lists that come to your old account, you can just forward temporarily, and make sure you take our Step 4 advice below. 

Gmail: 

  1. Open Gmail and click the gear icon
  2. Select Settings
  3. Select the "Forwarding and POP/IMAP" tab
  4. Click on "Add a forwarding address"
  5. Enter your new email address
  6. You'll get a verification email at your new email address, click that verification link

Outlook

  1. Click the gear icon and select "More Email Settings"
  2. Select "Email Forwarding"
  3. Check the box "Forward your mail to another email account" and enter your new email address

4. Set up an "out of office" notification on your old account

Inform your friends and family that you've changed your email account by setting up a personalized out of office notification on your old account.  Every time someone emails you, you can have this notification automatically sent to them informing them of your new address.  Something like: "I've changed my email address. For now, your messages are forwarded to my new address, so don't worry, but change my email address in your address book before it's too late!"

5. Update your address on all of your accounts

You may discover these as you go, but make sure you are updating your accounts (like iTunes, Amazon, your bank account, your electric company, etc) with your new email address.

If you use a password manager, like LastPass, this process may be easier for you, as it will provide you a list of all locations where you use your email as a username.

You may want to still log into your old email address from time-to-time, especially once you turn off forwarding, to ensure you're not missing anything important.

6. Give your new email account the power to reply "from" your old account

Most email providers will allow you to "send from" an old email address.  If you move from AOL to Gmail, for example, you may want to add the ability to send out of your Gmail account with the message appearing to come from your old AOL account (maybe to unsubscribe from something.) Here's some instructions from Google on how to set up Aliases to accomplish just that. 

Questions about your email address?  Want to make your email more professional but are confused about the process?  Send us an email or give us a call and we'll be glad to help.