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Access multiple email accounts with Gmail in 3 easy steps

with 19 comments


It seems as though nearly everyone has at least two email addresses these days, and it’s not uncommon to have upwards of four that are used on a regular basis for separate purposes.

You may or may not have heard of Gmail’s multiple inboxes feature and how useful it is, so if you’d like to take advantage of this awesome way to manage your email, read on.

The multiple inbox feature can be enabled to access third party email accounts (hotmail, your ISP email, etc.) alongside your Gmail account and can even be used to display certain sections or labels within your Gmail account simultaneously, e.g. by creating a search filter for a labeled or starred email.

Though at first glance this may seem daunting, it’s not that bad to configure and will give you the advantage of never ever having to check 2+ separate email accounts again.

Step 1:
Login to your Gmail account and enable the “Multiple Inboxes” feature under the settings > labs tab.


Once you do that, an additional box next to your inbox pane will show containing search results for “is:starred” and “is:drafts”. If you have starred or draft emails, you’ll see them there. If you don’t want to have a pane dedicated to drafts or starred emails you can remove those panes by going to the multiple inboxes settings.

We will be adding our third-party email accounts next, so we can add those inboxes to separate panes in Gmail.


Step 2:
Head back into settings and take a look under the accounts tab for an option labeled “Get mail from other accounts: Add a mail account you own”.


Enter the email address, password and any other relevant information, then add the account. During this setup process you’ll be able to apply a label to the new incoming mail and if preferred, archive it as well (both recommended). You can also take advantage of the “custom from” feature which allows you to send emails from those addresses through Gmail.

Step 3:
After you’ve successfully added your external email accounts, jump over to the “multiple inboxes” tab in the settings.


If you haven’t touched these settings yet, by default you’ll see that pane 0 is occupied by “is:starred” and Pane 1 by “is:drafts” (I opted to remove those on my account). Simply enter the new email address or any other search criteria you might want displayed beside your Gmail inbox. Also note the additional settings, which provide the ability to increase or decrease the number of messages that will be displayed in the extra inbox panes as well as their position.


For adding additional email accounts simply repeat steps 2 and 3 to add more inboxes or labels as well as anything searchable that you want displayed in its own pane. And this is just one of the many advanced features found in the Gmail Labs tab which can take your webmail experience to the next level. Enjoy.

Written by Matthew DeCarlo

March 5th, 2009 at 5:26 am

19 Comments so far

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  1. Thanks for the tip. Adding a pop3 acct. to sylpheed is daunting. Don’t forget to enable the advanced imap settings (labs) so that stuff is actually deleted instead of archived.


    6 Mar 09 at 3:14 pm

  2. I was using this, but is there a way so that when I send an email from one of the inboxes, it uses that email rather than the default (which is my gmail account)? No matter which inbox I’m sending an email from (gmail or my ISP), it’s always using my gmail address.

    Ivan Samuelson

    10 Mar 09 at 7:37 am

  3. If I’m understanding you correctly, yes. You’re able to define “custom from” addresses during step 2. To set it up afterward, head to Settings > Accounts and the first option there is “Send mail as: Add another email address you own”. I hope that answers your question :).

    Matthew DeCarlo

    10 Mar 09 at 9:28 am

  4. Thanks, I have configured that. hoping that it works

    Saket .P. Gadkari

    23 Mar 09 at 7:49 am

  5. I have configured my 3 gmail accounts in Multiple Inbox feature, but I would still like to see them seperately in like 3 columns or is there any way using which I can at least have a single click or drop down choice to switch between the inboxes? In short, I want all the 3 inboxes together but yet seperate.

    Deepa Ahuja

    31 Mar 09 at 2:12 pm

  6. I just followed your steps and was able to link my Gmail work account to my Gmail personal account. Seems like everything is working fine so far. I will update on this blog if I run into any issues that I cannot figure out.

  7. Thank you so much for this!! So well explained in a simple manner. I have been looking for a way to consolidate 2 gmail accounts for a client, and now thanks to you I can even consolidate his hotmail account into gmail as well! Thank you!


    19 Nov 09 at 3:46 pm

  8. Dear Matthew,
    what you didn’t not say is I must download all my other email accounts (non-Gmail ones) to POP servers first. What if my other emails are still web mail. What if I don’t like using POP? I actually hate ‘OutLook’. I know there are other mail handling programs but I rather use web mails so I can go anywhere using anyones computer to access my mail. Thanks Yen


    23 Nov 09 at 11:37 pm

  9. You CAN use other webmail services as long as they offer way to port them, via POP, IMAP or other supported protocol. For example, I never login to my Hotmail account nowadays, instead I check it through Gmail’s speedier and smarter interface.

    Julio Franco

    23 Nov 09 at 11:53 pm

  10. i just use windows live mail with all my email a/c’s on it, google mail and hotmail.


    27 Nov 09 at 7:52 pm

  11. It’s really amazing………

    That’s why i just love Goooooooooooogle…..



    26 Mar 10 at 12:52 am

  12. nyc work !
    thanx guys i likd it v much!


    17 Jun 10 at 2:16 pm

  13. Thank you for this excellent write-up!!

    I don’t know if you can help me though with my issue, but here goes:
    I have mutiple email accounts for work, non gmail, and could link them as u mentioned to my gmail account.
    Now, i want to have access to my gmail account through my iphone, but want to be able to reply through my iphone using the original TO address, not my gmail address. I know it’s doable on gmail, but i can’t seem to be able to do it on my iphone.

    If anyone can help me, please hit me on

    Thanks alot!

    Muhammad El-Serganu

    5 Oct 10 at 6:41 pm


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