A reader wants some advice on changing her primary email address:

“I want to change my email from CenturyLink to Gmail. Is there an easy way to do it. or do I have to do each name one at a time? I am not familiar with Gmail, I do have an account I don’t use much How would I do this. Thanks Looking forward to your tips and advice.”

It’s not a difficult process, but some of it can be time-consuming. If you already have a Gmail account, you’re part of the way there. If not, click here to learn how to create one.

First, you’ll want to notify all of your contacts that you’re switching your email address to Gmail.  You only need to create one message and sent it to everyone. Something along the lines of:

Please update my email address from janedoe@centurylink.net to janedoe@gmail.com. I’m going to stop using the CenturyLink address on Dec. 31st. 

This may be the only time I’d suggest using send all.  Send the first email to yourself at your Gmail address. Then make sure you use the Bcc line to send the message to everyone else. You don’t want every single one of your contacts to get a message when one of them replies.

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You’ll also want to set up an automatic or vacation response that lets everyone who emails you know that your email address has changed.

Then we’ll move on to websites, bank accounts, etc… For dealing with businesses, government agencies, and newsletters, just sending an email isn’t enough. You’ll want to go to the website for the account and look for the spot to change the email address on your account with them. Sometimes there will be a link at the bottom of a newsletter or statement. Make sure to list all of your important accounts that use your email address and go down that list, checking off that each of them has been changed.

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You can also forward emails from the address you’re leaving behind to your Gmail account. If your old address will still be active, the forwards will just continue indefinitely. If the account will be shutting down permanently (maybe you’re switching ISPs), you’ll receive the forwards as long as the old account is active.  Go to the inbox for your Gmail account. Click the icon for Settings and choose Settings from the drop-down menu.

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Choose the Forwarding and Accounts and Imports tab

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Choose Add a mail account.

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Enter the old email address. (in your case the Centurylink address).

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You’ll also have the option of importing the emails saved in your old account into Gmail.

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Then log into the account with your username and password. You’ll have to agree to let Gmail access the account info. As I don’t have a Centurylink account, my screenshot shows a Yahoo account.

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Messages from your previous account will now show up in your Gmail inbox.