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. Rahul

    Hi there,

    when i am deleting my emails from my gmail server,it is deleting emails from my Apple mail box which is already downloaded on my mac Book pro?

    pls advise solution.

    1. I would like to know does this app only work on macintosh ,imac,mac would it work with gmail account on apple browser or crome browser?

  2. Raymond

    That’s because the author is wrong about unchecking everything. That means they will live on you Mac, which might as well make it a POP account.

  3. Yes Raymond you are correct – I like them to live on my mac… so that I can search old emails in Apple mail and access them if the internet is down. But it is not exactly like pop – this is better for syncing across multiple devices so that if I read or move to a folder or delete an email on one computer or iPhone it is read or moved or deleted across them all.

  4. Boon

    Thanks Wayne,

    This is very helpful.
    I had repeat messages on my gmail account so I am resetting up my account. Problem now is that my account does not show up on Mac Mail’s Sent Mailbox. How do I solve this please?

    Much appreciated!

  5. Tammy

    Your info has been helpful as I learn the new functionalities of Mail in Mtn Lion (transitioning from Snow Leopard). I too like emails to “live on my Mac.”

    One thing I haven’t been able to determine…historically, once my email has been downloaded into Mail, I’ve deleted non-essential emails directly in a Gmail browser window…now I see that doing so also deletes them in Mail (or moves them to “All Mail” which to me is useless).

    Is there any way to prevent Mail from auto-deleting? If I move an email in Mail to another folder before deleting in a Gmail browser window, will Mail still delete?

    Many thanks.

  6. Jason

    I just set up a 2-step verification for my gmail account and my Apple mail no longer gets connected to gmail.
    How do I input the new verification code to connect again ?

    1. Mi

      How it was resolved (if it was…)

  7. Ohms

    I’ve used a mac for years but this new mail is confusing me, I just upgraded to a new mac and the mail is a little different.

    Currently I have one folder titled Inbox where I assumed I’d have ALL my emails. Currently I only have one email account setup with gmail. However below that I have another email box that says “gmail” this has more than the inbox. I’m going through the inbox deleting messages and they still appear in the “gmail” folder. Does anyone know how to get rid of this?

    1. Dee

      Ohms – YES

      This is a particularly obnoxious thing that happens on the Gmail end and drove me crazy as well. Here’s how to get rid of it! Log into your Gmail account online and go up to the gear icon and pull down to your settings. Choose the Labels tab in Gmail settings and you will see all these boxes to show or hide in IMAP. Uncheck “Show in IMAP” under the choice “All Mail” – and any other you don’t want to see. But the “All Mail” one is the one causing the duplication in your MacMail.

      Good luck!

      Now if someone could PLEASE tell me how to get the Gmail account to QUIT repositioning itself at the top of my MacMail inbox list I’d be most grateful. I have numerous email accounts and Gmail is the least I care about and no matter what I do to move it in the list of accounts, it puts itself back at the top. Beyond annoying!

  8. Sophie

    How can I set my Mac Mail to mark the emails that I read in gmail on my browser as read? Delete if I delete on gmail etc etc Its currently set up as a POP account.

    1. Change to IMAP and this will happen. That’s why IMAP is better than POP.

      1. marc

        You sound savvy, Wayne, so could you tell me how to simply update my Gmail address book with my current Mac Mail address book?

      2. Klaus

        Wayne, I enabled IMAP in my gmail account. Do I need to disable POP in gmail?

        And what do I need to change in my Mac mail preferences to change Gmail from POP to IMAP? It still shows gmail as POP account.

      3. 1. No you don’t need to disable pop.
        2. You can’t change AN Apple mail ACCOUNT frOm POP to IMAP – you need to make a new IMAP account in mail preferences then disable or delete the POP account.

  9. I just had a case where it wouldn’t find, but restarting the machine sorted out. DNS was on the wonk.

  10. Daniel Paulus

    Brilliant. I followed your advice. and its all working now! Thank you !

  11. Rob

    I have read extensively on setting up Mac Mail and IOS Mail with Gmail and you have one of the best articles. I would like some advice.

    1: Many articles suggest using Exchange to connect IOS to gmail so you get contacts and calendars to synch. opinion?

    2: Can you address how to synch sent mail and deleted mail so all sent mail is accessible from IOS (ipad usage scenario) or Apple Mail. it is very frustrating to try and find a deleted item on these platforms, it appears to be device dependent. Unless you go log into gmail via a browser.


    1. 1. I’ve not used Exchange.
      2. I log into gmail to get deleted and messages I’ve sent from other computers. A pain I know. But seems to be better than the other options (e.g. having ‘all mail’ folder accessible) that result in duplicate messages hanging round.

  12. Mary

    My company recently switched from an Exchange email system to GMail, keeping our original email addresses in tact, not using However, when I try to set up my google mail account in Apple Mail, it only finds the exchange account and not the gmail account. If I select add Gmail from the System Preferences menu, it starts the sync but spins and spins and never finishes.
    Any idea’s of what I need to do?

  13. Tomas

    Hi there. I am facing problem, that even when I delete email on my mac, in few minutes it comes back to inbox, as it is not deleted from the gmail in browser. I do not understand. any help please?

  14. Kim

    I am working on my mac but not in my gmail and my updates about my receiving an email (gmail) are annoying and threatening my privacy as i’m working with someone. How do i turn off this feature?

  15. radman

    My inbox won’t automatically refresh even though I check mail automatically every 5 minutes. Even when I click the little envelope, it doesn’t show new emails even though it retrieves them.

    I have to click on another mailbox and then back on inbox to see new emails. Why is this?

  16. Rene


    I have troubles with receiving gmail mails on my macbook, while I receive all emails on my iphone.

    In general I receive gmail mails on my macbook and my iphone, but for some reason, some but relevant mails only arrive on my phone.

    My gmail account runs on my mac as a IMAP, which I couldn’t select actually, rather were selected automatically.

    Could you please help me with this problem?

  17. Thomas Murphy

    Perhaps this doesn’t answer anyone’s question, but I need some suggestions as to getting a Mail account on my MacBook. I have gmail on it, just like I on my old desktop (I sold it), and now figuring out how the hell to start a Mail Account on this MacBook is complicated as hell. I’m asked to create a gmail account: I ALREADY HAVE ONE! I’m afraid that creating another one will mess up the one I’ve already got. There are some mags that I read on line that won’t let me forward articles except with Mail, and I don’t know how to create (or destroy) Mail. Any ideas? THANK YOU.

    1. Go straight to step 2 in my instructions here – skip step one.
      Step 1 is CREATING a gmail account with google.
      Step 2 is ENTERING that gmail account into apple mail.

      1. Shaun

        Hi, I have an imac, I’ve only just updated the OS to mountain lion, it then stopped sending any outgoing emails. I deleted the account and tried to do step 2 as you explained, but it keeps saying that either the user name or password is incorrect???? I know that they are not as these still work on my phone and ipad? Please, any help would be great…..

      2. You could try this:
        Remove the email account from you Mac System Preferences, restart the mac, and create a new Google Account in Mac Preferences.

  18. sid


    I am setting up my hotmail a/c on macbook air, but it seems to be downloading ALL my old mails first dating back to 2007.. can i get it to download only the most recent ones

  19. Cyndi

    Thank you. This also seems to have stopped the error messages that I would get about entering a password!

  20. June

    I cannot make Apple Mail download gmail messages which I’ve read online at Google Mail. I use imap. Can anyone help?

  21. I have thousands of emails in my gmail. How do I delete them in Mail (downloaded as IMAP), while saving them in gmail online?

    I guess I’m not totally getting IMAP. Does it actually download to my laptop, taking up space? or does it just reference them, so it accesses them online?

    First question is really the only one I want answered.

    1. IMAP doesn’t download every email, it just downloads the number of unread emails and titles etc. Then it downloads the emails as you read it. So it just references them. No local copy stored.
      if you go to mail preferences and tick ‘Keep copies of messages for offline viewing’ then it will download and keep a copy like the old POP mail did.

      The answer to your question is just delete them. They will delete from Apple mail and from your gmail inbox but gmail ALWAYS keeps a copy of the emails. Gmail never totally deletes them. So in gmail you can go into ‘All Mail’ and access your old deleted emails.

  22. IMAP

    I have thousands of emails in my gmail. How do I delete them in Mail (downloaded as IMAP), while saving them in gmail online?

    I guess I’m not totally getting IMAP. Does it actually download to my laptop, taking up space? or does it just reference them, so it accesses them online?

    1. Delete them, they will be removed from Mac, they will stay in the gmail ‘All Mail’ folder. This is a gmail thing not an imap thing.

      IMAP still downloads them, like POP, but it doesn’t delete them when they download. POP usually deletes them from server a set number of days after downloading. With IMAP when they are read, they are marked on the server as read. So IMAP means you can access from multiple computers more easily.

  23. Andreat

    Finally, the above instructions helped me to add my gmail account on my mini ipad. THANK U

  24. Chris Ryan

    How can I set my Mac Mail to mark the emails that I read in gmail on my browser as read? It’s set up as a POP account

    1. Change to IMAP and it will do this. No way to do this in POP.

  25. Bill


    When I delete a message either in my junk or trash within the Mail app, it returns within 5 minutes. How do I delete the emails permanently without having them return?

    Any help will be great!


  26. Peet

    I’ getting this message all the time after checking the correct details over and over: Logging in to the Google 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.

  27. The main problem is we still cannot sync draft messages between devices. i.e. Applemail / Android Nexus / Gmail.

    Its a killer for anyone who ends up using mail drafts for on the fly to do notes…

    If anyone has discovered a solid workaround I’d love to hear it.

    1. Use notes to do notes?

  28. steve goldstrom

    Thank you so much for help in setting up gmail. I’ve used a Mac since 1984, and this setup process was driving me crazy.

  29. I’m new to macs and have just got a MacBook. I can set up gmail on the mail app (in fact the apple store did this for me) and it works. However I have been unable to access by Gmail groups of which I have several or set up new groups. All my contacts have downloaded but not my groups. Any ideas? Otherwise I can access the account through Safari. Thanks.


  30. NMed

    I’m having the following issue w/Mac Mail, POP and Gmail, which I never had before and is not normal behavior for POP. If anyone can advise, please do.

    I have MMail set up w/POP and to delete all downloaded/in-coming emails, which I archive and save on my Mac. I do this because I’ve been hacked by a stalker and I don’t know how else to protect my communication (also use w/my .com email).

    This never happened before but when I send an email via MMail it instantly shows up in the “Sent” online folder of the Gmail acct.

    Now when I’m hacked he can see all my outgoing emails messages unless I go into the email acct and delete them manually!

    Can anyone help me w/this issue. I spent 4+ hours w/Apple and they say it’s Google. I have no idea how to stop this transfer of sent messages.

    1. That sounds pretty standard – that Gmail keeps a copy of outgoing messages and puts them in the ‘sent’ folder.

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