Original Poster
Google user

Import messages through IMAP - message date wrong in Inbox


I'm trying to import some old messages using IMAP. When I view these messages through IMAP, everything seems fine, but in the inbox in the web-interface the date is that of the moment I copied the message into Gmail. This should be the date and time from the message itself. When I click on a message and view the conversation, the dates on the individual message are correct. They are correct too when I use an IMAP-client to look at the messages.

I'd appreciate any help and thanks for your attention.
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All Replies (20)
It is a known problem.  The message list shows the time that the message arrived in Gmail.  For messages that arrive directly, this is the same as the time stamp on the last Received header.  When you open the message, you see the time the message was sent, from the Date header.

You IMAP client is probably showing you one of the timestamps from the email headers, so the Gmail "received time" is not a factor.

Hello, any news on solving this issue?
I reported this issue over year ago and it is still not resolved...
It makes it very difficult to import messages via IMAP - all messages have wrong date attached to them.
I would appreciate at least an option to change sorting date/time in Settings...
Any news on this issue?

Is there an API for Gmail. I believe it would be trivial to loop through all conversations and change the conversation date to the date the last message was received.

I noted that when importing mail with Thunderbird 3 it seemed to keep the dates but when importing with evolution it didn't.
Hmm, this is very annoying...and as the issue was 'updated 9/19/2008'...
So it doesn't look like they will fix it...

Come on Google!
I'm trying to migrate over after getting my Nexus, this just sours the deal...

Alex Fiennes
Alex Fiennes
While the conversation view does show the correct dates, it appears that it isn't possible to search for messages by date and have gmail utilise the sent date rather than the import date.  Does anyone know of a search term that will enable us to search for messages by sent date?
Alex Fiennes
Alex Fiennes
I have some good news:  we had originally set up our mail on a test domain to ensure that it was going to be fit for purpose.  Once we had validated this (aside from the irritation of the date problems), we created our official domain and started the configuration.  I utilised the gmail IMAP migration tool to move the data from the test domain (with the incorrect dates generated by uploading from my offline mail client over IMAP) to the destination domain, and the destination domain is now showing all of the mails with the correct dates.

I am not sure whether or not you need two domains to utilise this feature - it might be the case that setting up a second email address and then migrating all of the emails from one account to another via IMAP might be sufficient but this should definitely be something to look into for anyone that is having problems with the IMAP internal date being set to the upload date rather than the original received date.

I posted a while back that I had the same issue. However I found out that the issue only appered if i moved messages using the Evolution mail client under ubuntu. If I used Thunderbird the dates appared correclty. I ended up movin all the mail (7 Gb) four times because I it took a while to figure out that there must be a difference in the implementation of the IMAP protocol between Evolution and Thunderbird.

My suggestion is to use different mail-clients till you find one that works.
When uploading messages, the IMAP client is supposed to specify the "internal date" of the message as one of the arguments to the APPEND command. If the client omits this parameter, the server is supposed to use the current time. RFC 3501 section 6.3.11 states in part:

"If a date-time is specified, the internal date SHOULD be set in the resulting message; otherwise, the internal date of the resulting message is set to the current date and time by default."

If the client is specifying the date and Gmail is ignoring it, that's a bug in Gmail. If the client isn't specifying the date, it's a bug in the client.
Google user
Google user
I'm having the same problem in transferring my old (offline) mail into Gmail mailbox using Thunderbird, but I'm having this "mail data lost" problem ONLY in emails of year 2008 and older!
Here my situation:
I could load almost 95% of my old emails into Gmail by simply copying them into Gmail folders after configuring Thunderbird IMAP properly and it worked like a charm. This applies to all email sent / received in year 2009 and later.
about 5% of my email, that is ALL sent and received emails of year 2008 and older, were loaded but:
1) original dates are overwritten by the date and time of transferring into Gmail
2) email subjet goes lost (empty)
On the other hand, when selecting the single email for reading, I still can see the real data and subjet of the email in both Gmail page and IMAP client. This is really strange, because evidently the message data are kept INSIDE the loaded mail, but not shown correctly when the mail is listed. Gmail gets a non consistent state.
By the way, the exact same thing happened when loading emails into Gmail using Apple Mail for IMAP access instead of Thunderbird, so I wonder whether it is a Gmail problem...
Google user
Google user
well...I have to make two little corrections to my previous post:
1) actually there are 4 emails having dates before year 2009 that were loaded correctly (3 of year 2008 and one of year 2007). I don'have any idea why these 4 emails were loaded correctly, while all the others of 2008 and older didn't! Mistery...
Also, loading using Apple Mail seems to be able to preserve dates even for older mails (2008 and older) but loses subject for the same mail messages for whom Thunderbird loses message subject AND even dates. It's a mess...
Hello guys.

This thread has been REALLY helpful!

I am recent switcher to the mac and have gotten the idea a couple of weeks ago to archive my OLD emails to GMail.
My old emails were in Outlook Express.
I have initially decided to use Outlook 2011 as my local mail client to retrieve my mails in GMail.
Unfortunately, I also encountered the main problem of this thread which was the incorrect timestamp of the imported mails.

I followed most of the advice of mbirth with great success.

I will detail the steps for the benefit of future readers:

3. Create a folder under the Local folder section.
4. Create a sub-folder under your GMail folder, to represent the label of the email to be imported.
5. Open finder/explorer, and drag the email message files to the created folder under the local folder.
6. The old emails should now be listed with their correct timestamps.
7. You can then drag these imported emails from the local folder to the GMail sub-folder.
8. The local folder will become empty after all the messages have been moved.

And that's it!

Maybe the next reader to try this can try dragging the email files directly to the GMail sub-folder.
I am not sure if the timestamp would be affected that way.

Also, please note that coming from Outlook Express, I first had to convert my dbx files to individual eml message files before dragging them to the Thunderbird local folder. If anybody want to try doing a direct drag of the dbx file (I doubt it would work), kindly let us know of the results here.

Nice work guys!
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