Goodbye Google: Getting Out of Gmail

After removing some of the smaller portions of Google from my Internet life last time, I thought I’d take on something a bit more challenging this time around: Gmail

I knew that leaving Gmail was going to be really difficult. In fact, I’d say that it was going to be the hardest of the easiest aspects of Google to leave. By easiest I mean that I could very easily push my email through the domains I own, since email accounts are included with my hosting plan. By hardest I mean that I had to take a lot of trips to different places to even begin to make it happen.

And I decided I was going to use my main email as the guinea pig.

First off, I went to my Dreamhost account and removed this site as a Google-hosted site, so I no longer have Google powering anything on the domain. That not only removed Gmail from the equation, but also took care of Apps, Calendar, and the rest. Mind you, it only severed the connection — it didn’t outright delete what was already there.

Just to be safe I went in and checked to make sure nothing of import was in those areas (and downloaded the documents that were) and proceeded to establish my email account under my own domain.

I created my email (the same one used in Gmail) under my own domain, and then attempted to add it in Sparrow – my mail app of choice. First, I thought I could just change the password, but since it had Google preferences in there, that was a non-starter. Then I tried to add it as a new email, but Sparrow doesn’t allow duplicate email addresses.

That left me stuck with a task I really didn’t want to have to do: review all of my email in the existing mail account’s inbox.

So I didn’t.

Instead, I went in and created “” in my domain’s back end and added it to Sparrow. Then I decided to take all of my emails in’s main email and drag them into a folder on my desktop – just to make sure that none of my unarchived emails didn’t get tossed when I deleted it from Sparrow. (I’m not even sure if my archived ones are still around, but I’m not going to dig in too deeply to find out.)

Update: A sobering discovery — in order to use Sparrow I had to use Google’s outgoing mail server to send mail. I simply used the existing outgoing settings from Gmail alongside my new incoming settings from Dreamhost. I sure hope Sparrow takes care of this in a future update, because right now if I want to completely leave Gmail for self-hosted email options, I can’t use Sparrow.

I’ve set up as a backup as well, just so that I’m not losing anything in this whole process. Again….maybe I should have used an email of less importance for this experiment.1

The move from Gmail to plain old self-hosted email wasn’t too taxing, but it was a pain. Unravelling my email from Google is something I knew would be challenging, but when I did so I really did notice the features of Gmail’s web interface. That’s not lost on me, nor is the fact that if Dreamhost was to go down, then so would my email.

And just to be “extra-safe”, I’ve yet to actually delete my Google Apps (including Gmail) existence of’s stuff. It’s still there until I decide — or figure out a way — to delete it.

The bottom line? While I got it done on my main email account, leaving Gmail isn’t something anyone should take too lightly.

Next time: Ridding Myself of Reader

Photo credit: Anne Petersen (CC BY NC-ND 2.0)

1Oh, and I have 6 of these Gmail accounts to do this to. Good times.