How to set up Apple mail to work with a Gmail account. (This is the original article from 2013)


Despite their differences, Apple and Google do work well together when it comes to email.  Gmail is free and it has great spam protection. But the Gmail web interface is a bit clunky. Apple mail is very nice to use and you can set it to use a Gmail account. Here’s how to use Gmail from Apple’s mail app and also how to set up Gmail on your iPhone or iPad.

There is a newer article about this topic here (2018) but I have kept this older article (2013)  for those who have an older version of OS X or an older version of Apple Mail.

1. Sign up for Gmail.

(If you already have a Google Gmail account you can skip this step – but you will need to know your and it’s password)

– Go to and click on “Sign Up”

– Fill in the details – you’ll need to pick a gmail email address ( and a password. (Write them down!)

– When you have finished you should get a verification page that says this at the bottom:

Gmail signup complete

Now it’s time to set up the Apple mail application on your computer.


2. Enter your Gmail details into Apple mail on your iMac, Mac Mini or Macbook.


– Open Apple mail, and go to the “Mail’ menubar at the top of the screen and  then select  ‘Preferences’  from the menu.

Select preferences from the mail menu




– Select the ‘Accounts’ tab. From here  you can manage your mail accounts.

Accounts tab



– Press the ‘+’ button – this means add a new account.

Add a new account


–  You will be prompted for some details:

Enter your Gmail settings into Apple mail

  • Where it says ‘full name’  enter your name,  this is not important but it will appear in the ‘ from’  field and can be anything.
  • Where it says ’email address’   put in your Gmail email address from step 1 above including the at the end.
  • Where it says ‘password’ enter your Gmail password from step 1 above.


It will then verify that the email address and password are correct and then display a confirmation screen. It should say that the Account type is “Gmail IMAP” as follows:

Gmail confirmation screen

– Press ‘Create’

– You will be taken back to the Apple Mail preferences screen. There are some settings you should change here.

1. Click on the mailbox behaviours tab

Mailbox behaviours tab


You pretty much need to set them to the opposite of the Apple default. Tick the ‘Junk’ and un-tick everything else like this:

Mailbox behaviour settings



You don’t want to tick “Drafts.”  Every few minutes Apple mail makes a backup copy of your email as you are typing it. If  you select this option all these draft emails get stored in your gmail Drafts folder and you end up with lots of clutter!

You don’t want to tick “Sent”  because Gmail automatically keeps a copy of your sent messages and puts them in its ‘send mail folder’ so Apple mail does not need to.  You only need this option checked if your email provider doesn’t keep a copy of your sent emails automatically.

The “Trash” option is  for email providers who don’t keep a copy of all your deleted emails. If checked it will save all your deleted items to a trash folder incase you want to undo the delete. Gmail automatically keeps a copy of every email that you delete so you don’t need to do this.

You  want the “junk”  option ticked  because Gmail automatically takes care of junk mail –  you don’t want the Apple mail program deleting it.


– That’s it.

– You can close the preferences window. (Click save if it prompts you to save the new settings).

– There should be some welcome messages from Gmail waiting for you in your Apple mail.



On the left-hand side of your mail app there should be a little folder called [Gmail]  that looks like this:

Gmail folders


The All Mail  folder contains every mail you have sent or received and even the emails you have deleted.  This is where you go if you want to find an old email that you have deleted.

The drafts folder will be empty all the time because you are not storing your draft emails on the gmail server.

Sent mail will contain all the emails you have sent.

Trash will be empty. All your deleted emails are kept in the All Mail folder –  you don’t need another copy in the trash.


– You can repeat all these instructions  to add more accounts to your Apple mail.

– If you want to set up your Gmail account on an iPhone or iPad read on.


3. Enter your Gmail details into your iPhone or iPad.


– Go to Settings, then “Mail, Contacts, Calendars”

– Select the ‘Add Account’ option.




– Select ‘Gmail’



– Enter your Gmail settings from Step 1 above. The ‘description’ can be any description to help you remember what the account is,  eg ‘My personal gmail account’



That’s it!

You can now access and edit your emails from your Computer and your iOS device.


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166 responses to “How to set up Apple mail to work with a Gmail account. (This is the original article from 2013)”

  1. Michael Knight

    I am trying to set up and get an error message after entering the “add account” details.

    Logging in to the Gmail IMAP server “” failed. Make sure the user name and password you entered are correct, then click Continue. If the information isn’t correct, you cannot receive messages.

    Do you have any ideas, the account and password are correct.

    Thanks Mike.

  2. Karen

    Hi Wayne- I have a Mac email address that I want to continue to use to access mail on my iPad and Mac laptop, and from my android phone via the gmail app. Will the instructions you provided accomplish this?

    1. It’s pretty much the same idea. Leave your iPad and Mac as they are and put your Mac email details into gmail. Apple have their mail details here:

  3. Martello

    If I make Apple mail my “host” (or whatever the proper term) for my gmail account, does it store all my emails on my computer or in the cloud? I don’t want them on my computer, which already has insufficient storage space. Thanks!

    1. Yes it will download your entire inbox to your computer. You can turn off ‘download attachments’ to save some space, but it’s not like reading them in a web browser which takes no space.

  4. Alessandra

    Hi, how come I cannot see my Gmail profile pic on Mail? Everything else is working though!
    Thanks in advance for your help :)

  5. I am using macOS High Sierra and I have Zoho mail account, could you please help me to setup mail?

  6. Ed

    I purchased a new iPad for Christmas for my wife and setup her Gmail account as you described. All her many sub folders were created but every folder was empty. I checked her other devices including using the Gmail website and they are suddenly all empty. Any mail now is date stamped from the time the new iPad was configured. Where did they all go? More importantly how do I recover the old messages?

  7. Lisa

    I’m trying to set up gmail for my husband on a macbook air. These instructions are outdated. When I get to the point that the email has been added, then click on “mailbox behaviours” there are no checkboxes. There are drop down menus, but nothing in them! I can’t get the email to enable. Under Account Information, the checkbox for “Enable this account” is checked, but the Status says “checking” and nothing is happening.

  8. Catherine

    I am having the exact same issue as Lisa.

  9. Becky

    My husband is using gmail on a Mac thru the Apple protocol. He needs to add contacts and we can find no way to add contacts. Can someone please help with this?

    1. To add contacts you need to add them to the OSX ‘Contacts’ App. (Look under your ‘Applications’ folder or in your dock. (This Application used to be called ‘Address Book.’)

  10. Robert OHara

    Hi Wayne – after 5 years using one Gmail account on Mac App (High Sierra) without any real problems suddenly experiencing quite a few – e.g. sending,(goes to outbox and remains), after ‘sleep’ (overnight) receiving mail only when prompted to put in password, log-in permanently showing failed although am online (still receiving mail), suddenly receiving about 12 junk messages per day – previously none. My two question are: I have in Mail-Preferences-Accounts both Gmail IMAP and Gmail POP – IMAP account info ‘status’ is OFFLINE yet POP status in online. Do I need both of these? Because of continuous hassles with this account am considering removing my Gmail from Apple Mail and then setting up again (but this will mean losing my existing data unless backed up)- could this also be an over-reaction?

    1. Check out this article:

      In answer to your question.
      IMAP on and POP off is a better solution.
      If they are all sorted into folders on your local computer and you are on Pop mail that will all be lost. If you are on IMAP that will all be retained. To be sure, just ‘export’ your mailboxes from Apple Mail as a backup first. (Mailbox menu – export Mailbox, do this to all your mailboxes.)

  11. Terri

    I am using Apple Mail for accessing my gmail. Recently after returning from a trip I am not able to send emails. When I look at Apple Mail preferences the outgoing mail server is set to Gmail but it is offline. I tried to add a new gmail server address (still using Apple Mail accepted it but when I tried to send an email it still came back as the server wasn’t available.
    Any ideas?

    1. David Minehart

      I’ve just started having the same problem on my iPad but not my iPhone 6s. iPad has 11.2.5, iPhone has 11.2.6. I’m trying the upgrade . . .

  12. David

    My gmail acct. was working fine with iMac mail, but then disconnected from the gmail accout. It does not work to reenter the password and two-step authentication code, remaining unconnected. I then deleted the gmail account, attempting to add it back as a new account. It allows me to enter the email address, recongnizes me, allows password entry, and entry of the two-step authentication code. Then when I click to sync contacts, etc., it just hangs there and does not add the email account. Any suggestions?


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