Commons QA: Moving Email between Web Mail Services

imageFebruary 27th was our first Computer Q&A session at Third Place Commons. Though we had light attendance (something I expected for the first time), the event went well and was a good shakedown for how we should do things. While I over-prepared my short talk of passwords, those present appreciated it and the resources I shared on how to build good passwords and store them. My concerns about filling the rest of the time were unfounded thanks to the lively participation of those attending. It was a full 90 minutes of questions, discussion, and personal connection:

Migrating from Comcast to Frontier Email
Thanks to the lovely lady who provided a challenging question about migrating her mail and address book from Comcast webmail to Frontier. Everyone contributed to that the answer, especially since the changeover was happening in 24 hours. While we didn’t have a ready answer for transferring the mail itself, we did encourage her to use the export feature in Comcast to save her address book entries before her access to the service ended. Alas, she didn’t leave her name so we weren’t able to follow up on the next step, importing into Frontier’s email.

Answer: Export addresses through Comcast’s export and then use Frontier’s import option to bring them in. While you can get the details below on this, I also have a long-term solution (listed as Alternative #2) to avoid these kind of migration problems.

Exporting From Comcast WebMail


Watching the Net has a nice walk-through of the export process for Comcast’s Webmail. Use “MS Outlook Express CSV” as your format and save it to your desktop with a name that you will remember.

If you are using Comcast’s “SmartZone,” I am told it’s a little less straightforward:

  1. On the tool bar, choose “Preferences,” not Address Book.
  2. Scroll near the bottom page and locate “Import/Export.” Click on the Export button there.
  3. Under Export, click on “Comcast Contacts.”
  4. Click on Export.
  5. A dialog box will appear with export choices. Highlight “Contacts” and click OK
  6. You will get a new dialog opens permitting you to save Opening Contacts.csv. Save it to your desktop.

Note: Since I don’t use Comcast, I have not be able to confirm this procedure. If you are a Comcast user and can verify this, please let me know in the comments of this post.

imageAddress Book Import to Frontier Mail
Okay, you have used Comcast’s export (or some other provider) to produce a CSV file. CSV (Comma-Separated Variable) files are very simple text files that use commas to separate information for each address book entry. This files can been loaded into other programs (like Microsoft Excel) to view or modify.

To transfer the contents of this CSV file, we need to follow the steps outlined the Frontier FAQ item named “How can I import my Outlook Express Address Book into Frontier Mail?” We can skip the first eight steps in the item since we already have our CSV file. Step 9 of the FAQ item is our step 1 below:

  1. Browse to the Frontier Mail page and login to the account to which you wish to add your Outlook Express Address Book.
  2. Click Preferences, and then select the Import/Export option on the left-hand side of the window.
  3. Click the Browse button in the Import section of the page.
  4. Locate the CSV file that you saved to your desktop earlier, and click the file to select it. Click Open.
  5. Click Import.
  6. You should see a message indicating that your contacts have been successfully imported. Click your Address Book to view the new entries.

Alterative #1: Using an Email Client to Migrate your Address Book and Email.
Another way to do get both the address book and your email is to use a local email client and set up Comcast to pull your email into the email program using the POP3 protocol. That will give the email client access to both your address book and previous email.

Here’s the procedure from eHow using Outlook Express that comes with Windows XP. The process is similar for Windows Mail (in Windows Vista) and Windows Live Mail (available as a download).

Once Comcast is added, you also add Frontier to the email client (see Frontier’s FAQ for how to do this) and just transfer items over using the email client.

Alterative #2: How to Avoid Mail Migration Problems Completely
As you have seen, moving from one email address to another can be a complicated process especially if you store emails and your address book online.  I find that people who depend on the email addresses issued through their Internet provider face this challenge every time they switch to a new provider. While moving emails and address books behind the scenes are usually provided when providers change things themselves, you are largely on your own if you make the switch.

One way to break this cycle of dependency is to use one of the free email services. If you have a Yahoo Mail, Google Gmail or Windows Live Hotmail account, if doesn’t matter which Internet service provider is involved or whether you change from one provider to another.

Through it all your email remains untouched. ToMuse listed these and some lesser-known web email services in their listing of Top Ten Email Providers.

More to Come
Intriguing as it was, this was only one question from February’s Computer Q&A at the Commons.  There were other questions from the event…I will share them in subsequent postings.

Our next Commons Q&A session is March 27th.  Please join us if you can!  More details can be found at bostonlegacyworks.com.

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3 Comments on “Commons QA: Moving Email between Web Mail Services”

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  3. Sibyl says:

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