MSU Google Mail "Things To Know"

A Comprehensive Guide for Your Migration to MSU Google Mail

Information Technology (IT) is planning the migration of campus email services to MSU Google Mail. The following guide and FAQ provide important information and should answer most, if not all, of the questions you may encounter during this process.

Please carefully review this information at least once prior to the migration and use it as a guide after your account has been migrated.

Overview and Access
Important Information Regarding Google Mail's Web Interface Settings
If You Had Mail Forwarding or Auto-Reply/Vacation Message Enabled on the Campus Mail Server (via Webmail settings)
If you had the POP Protocol Enabled on the Campus Mail Server (via the NetID form)
Important Information If You Used Webmail
Important Information If You Used Thunderbird
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Overview and Access

Information Technology has been internally piloting the use of Google Mail (Gmail) for the past few months.  We are now prepared to begin scheduling the migration of all other employees to Gmail in logical groupings by departments and administrative offices in two phases:

  • Phase I (First week of June through November) will focus on Administrative areas, non-academic functional units, the Provost’s Office, Dean’s Offices and college-level support staff.

  • Phase II (October through early December)will encompass all faculty and academic areas.


  • Phase III (Mid-March through May) will encompass all generic accounts, Affiliates and Professor Emeriti


  1. Per the information above, your MSU Google Mail account will completely replace the functionality of your email account on the campus mail server.
    • No account activation or sign up process is required.
    • All of the existing email on the campus server will have been transferred to your MSU Google Mail account for you. The folder structure will be the same with the addition of some special Gmail folders (i.e. "Starred", "Important", "Spam") that provide a filtered view for messages with these labels.
    • All new email will be delivered directly to your MSU Google Mail account.
    • You will no longer be able to retrieve email from the campus mail server ( via Webmail, desktop email clients (Thunderbird, Outlook, etc.), or mobile device email apps.
      • See "Important Information If You Used Webmail" section below on how to export your Address Book from Webmail. 
    • You will also no longer be able to send email using the campus SMTP gateway (
  2. When your migration has been completed, you can login to MSU Google Mail directly at
    • Note as is the case with Google Calendar, your Google login name is <netid> (not <netid>
    • If you are already logged in to Google Calendar, you can also select Mail from the "waffle" menu (the "9 dots" icon that appears in the upper right hand corner of the web page next to your name).
  3. Google Mail's web interface is the official IT supported and recommended interface for MSU Google Mail.
    • If you want/need immediate access to your email after your migration, you should use the Google Mail web interface.
    • However, you may choose to continue to use Thunderbird or other IMAP compatible email clients. Configuration steps are required.
    • Please note, Thunderbird is the only IT supported email client. 
  4. For mobile devices Google's Gmail app, downloadable from the Apple (iOS) App Store or Google (Android) App Store, will work with MSU Google Mail.
  5. IMPORTANT: Please note that Information Technology will no longer be able to fulfill requests to restore lost (deleted) email messages as they will no longer be stored on University servers.
    • Google does not offer support for recovering deleted email for Apps for Education domain users.

Important Information Regarding Google Mail's Web Interface Settings

  1. The "From" address field setting in Google Mail's web interface has been set to <your netid> for you. Do not change this setting in your account settings. Doing so will cause problems with mailing lists that you are subscribed to (both MSU lists and external) and possibly other mail related services.
    • Note this is your "From" email address only, not your Google login name as noted above.

If You Had Mail Forwarding or Auto-Reply/Vacation Message Enabled on the Campus Mail Server (via Webmail settings)

  1. If you had mail forwarding enabled on your campus mail server account, it will be disabled. This includes the "forward only" and "forward and copy" options. If you wish to set mail forwarding for your new MSU Google Mail account, it must be done through the Google Mail's web interface settings.
  2. If you had set an Auto-reply/Vacation message in MSU Webmail, it will be disabled.

If you had the POP Protocol Enabled on the Campus Mail Server (via the NetID form)

  1. If you enabled POP access on your MSU email account, this no longer applies. 
    • Note: POP is an older mail client protocol that removes messages from your server account as they are downloaded to a client application. It is not commonly used anymore and not recommended.

Important Information If You Used Webmail

  1. If you had setup mail filters in MSU Webmail, they will not carry over to your MSU Google Mail account. If you wish to filter your mail in MSU Google Mail, you can create new filters through the Google Mail's web interface settings.
  2. If you had address book entries in MSU Webmail, they will not carry over to MSU Google Mail automatically.

Important Information If You Used Thunderbird 

  1. Thunderbird may be used with MSU Google Mail. 
  2. Mail filters in Thunderbird are associated with a particular email account. If you had mail filters in Thunderbird for your account, and you add a Google Mail account for MSU Google Mail to your profile, you will need to recreate or copy your original filters.
  3. Address Books in Thunderbird are global across accounts.
    • Your existing address book should remain in your Thunderbird profile and work with all accounts.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

Q1: Will my email address change?

A1: No. After the migration, you will continue to be able to send and receive email at your current <your netid> address or <yournetid> and associated aliases. However, as is the case with Google Calendar, your Google login name is <netid> only.

Q2: Will I have a larger email quota?

A2: Yes. Google is providing Apps for Education customers with unlimited email quotas. 

Q3: What is the difference between MSU Webmail and Thunderbird?

A3: Thunderbird is an email client that resides on your desktop/laptop. Webmail is a web interface for the campus mail server that is accessible through a browser (i.e. Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari). Both the Thunderbird client and Webmail web intereface provide access to your email on the campus mail server, they just work in different ways. Your email content will be the same on both with the exception that if you use Thunderbird, you may have archived (moved) email from the campus server to local folder(s).

After your account is migrated, MSU Google Mail and Thunderbird (if you choose to use it) work in a similar way.

Q4: What is the difference between Gmail and MSU Google Mail?

A4: Gmail is a common name for Google's public mail service for personal accounts. While very similar, to differentiate the two we refer to our campus instance as MSU Google Mail.

Q5: Will there be ads in my MSU Google Mail account?

A5: No.

Q6: Does Google provide SPAM protection for my account?

Q6: Yes. As one of the largest email handlers in the world, Google has some of the best SPAM heurisitics in the industry. 

  • Note you must use Google Mail's web interface to interact with their SPAM controls.

Q7: Can I still use Thunderbird's Junk Mail controls if I have Thunderbird configured for my MSU Google Mail account?

A7: Yes. However, note that Thunderbird's junk mail features are local to Thunderbird. Google's default SPAM folder is called Spam and Thunderbird's default Junk folder is called Junk. So you may end up with filtered messages in both locations.

Q8: Some of my emails contain confidential material. How will you maintain email privacy?

A8: Google maintains Privacy Policies for each of its applications. For a complete list and access to each of these policies, please visit Google's Privacy Center. However, per the University's Data Classification & Handling Policy, sensitive information should NEVER be sent through (unencrypted) email.

Q9: What if I already have a personal Gmail account?

A9: You can continue to use your personal Gmail account and this will not affect your MSU account at all. The advantage of your MSU Google Mail account is unlimited storage in an ad-free environment.

Q10: What if I want to use another IMAP email client like Outlook? Or a mobile client other than Google's?

A10: Refer to Google's online documentation for the proper IMAP and SMTP settings to use with desktop email clients or non-Google (3rd party) mobile email apps.

  • Note: Only IT approved IMAP clients may be installed on the IT Secure/Managed client image.

Q11: Will I be able to keep my MSU Google Mail account if I separate from the University?

A11: No. Only Emeritus Faculty approved by the Provost are permitted to keep email accounts at this time.

Q12: Are there training resources available for Google Apps for Education?

A12: The Division of Information Technology provides complimentary training on Google Apps for Education for Google Calendar and Google Drive. To register, please visit our Training and Registration page.

Q13: Where can I get more help with using Google Mail?

A13: Please visit our Google Apps documentation page, and look for the Google Mail section at the bottom of the page. Google also provides a Gmail Help Center. IT supported users may also contact the University Service Desk x7971 for additional assistance.