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

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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 email-address@gmail.com and it’s password)

– Go to gmail.com and click on “Sign Up”

– Fill in the details – you’ll need to pick a gmail email address (somethingunique@gmail.com) 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 @gmail.com 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

 

EXPLANATION OF ADVANCED 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.

 

EXPLANATION OF GMAIL FOLDERS

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.

IMG_2110

 

 

– Select ‘Gmail’

IMG_2111

 

– 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’

IMG_2112-1

 

That’s it!

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

 

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Comments

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

  1. John

    I am no longer able to send emails on my macbook pro.I am able to receive them and also send direct from my gmail A/c but not from laptop.

  2. Kimberly

    Do these recommendations still hold for Mavericks 10.9.3?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Kimberly

      Sorry, I think I wasn’t clear. The question is whether the original recommendations about the mail folder settings still apply after all the back and forth with Mavericks. Thanks.

      1. I think so, I haven’t changed them since any Mavericks updates and they still work.

  3. Andrit

    Hi!

    I am using Mac Os X 10.9.2. I have an issue with folders in Mail (folders from Z to A), I need to have it from A to Z, like it was when I use previous MacBook with 10.7. Please advise the solution. On gmail account in web the folders sort in right way, from A to Z.

    I have already deleted account from Mail and re-load the account but the folders are from Z to A.

  4. Landry

    how do i add an iphone to my mac in order to receive and send iMessages?

    1. You only need an apple ID to use iMessage you don’t need an iPhone.

  5. Umesh

    Hi

    I recently joined a company and they use gmail as their mail server…..when i try to configure my mail account on the Macbook air, it validates credentials for calendar but not my mails and notes? hence, i have a fully synced calendar but no mails….any solutions

  6. David

    Thanks for great advice. Have just upgraded to Maverick. Always used NOTES in gmail on MacBook Pro but it doesn’t show in the newly imposed Mail. Do you know how to resurrect Notes?

  7. I see that your recommendation is to not keep All Mail on your computer and to uncheck IMAP. Do you feel the need to have a backup of your emails at all.

    Until recently, I’ve kept All Mail checked so I could have access to my emails at any time. However, that is causing my email to run really slowly so I’m rethinking my strategy.

    1. I’m still working this out too. If I need an old email I go into gmail via safari.

      1. Thanks for your response. If and when you figure out the issue with accessing old emails and having a backup plan for what’s not on the computer… I’d love to hear about it. Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

  8. One more thought…

    You said…. on 1/1/14
    “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. BUT if you go to mail preferences and tick ‘Keep copies of messages for offline viewing’ then it will download…”

    Where is the “keep copies of messages for offline viewing” located. I can’t find it.

    Looks like my computer is downloading them all.

    1. I think it might download all the emails automatically now. I think that setting has disappeared from OS X.

  9. Piers

    Wayne, I have a very large gmail account. I have archived most of the mail. Mail seems to be reading those and, I guess, storing them in an archive folder. But the number are large. Is they a way I can stop it or shall I just let it go ahead an crunch through it. I would prefer not to have all those emails on my drive.

    1. You just go into the settings on gmail itself (via safari), go to IMAP and POP settings, labels, and uncheck the box against the ‘All Mail’ label. This tells gmail not to send the All Mail to and IMAP clients such as apple mail.

  10. Patrick

    Hi- I’m trying to set my iphone mail to send from 2 different email addresses. One is a gmail acct and one is my business account(for example Patrick@patricksbusiness.com). On the computer I access them both strictly using Gmail. Since my Iphone has only been connected to my Gmail Acct, I haven’t had any problems EXCEPT not being able to send messages from my business account when i’m using my iphone. Today I tried setting up a separate account on my iphone mail settings, and though i was able to send mail from my business acct, I ended up getting repeated mail because it’s being sent to gmail(then to my iphone) and also being sent directly to my iphone from my domain’s mail server. DO you suggest a solution to this dilemma? I want to have all my email in one gmail account and and to be the same on my phone(but i want to be able to send business emails from my phone!)

    Thanks so much,
    Patrick

  11. Olivia

    Oh my gosh this helped so much!! thank you! Really <3

  12. Oddly enough, this issue is on my iPad only.The settings on my desktop and my iPhone are all identical. I use Mac Mail primarily but have a back-up Gmail acct. Both mail accounts are IMAP accounts and are on all three devices: desktop, iPhone, and iPad.

    I had an old Gmail acct. that was deleted and a new Gmail acct. created. When I try to send from my Mac Mail account (different ISP for mail) on my iPad only , I get an error message that it ‘Cannot Send Mail.The user name or password for ‘the old acct. name’ is incorrect. OK and Settings are my two options.
    1) It’s not the Gmail account I’m sending from, it’s the other IMAP account
    2) It’s looking for an account that no longer exists and was deleted a long time ago.

    All the very same settings on my iMac and iPhone, work fine in sending and I don’t get this error message on either of them.

    Can you advise?

    1. for specific questions like that I’d find a friend who’s a mac guru or ring apple support. Apple support is very good!

  13. Omar

    I am trying to connect to my gmail using Mail the message I have is ” Logging in to the Google IMAP server “imap.gmail.com” failed. Make sure the user name and password you entered are correct, then click Continue”.

    I do not have 2 step verification on Google….

    please help

    1. jill

      I am having the same issue as omar. i used macmail with my gmail account for years. i started having issues not able to receive mail so i deleted my gmail account and have been trying to add it back for a few weeks now. i am getting the same error message that Omar is.
      can someone please advise what is going on?

  14. That looks so Cool. I’m impressed.

  15. The time displayed on my Mail messages is one hour earlier than actual Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia time. I have checked the time setting on my MacBook Air and it is correct. How can I get the time displayed on my Mail messages to reflect the correct time. Thank you

  16. Kate

    Thanks a lot for this help!
    I had an issue with Mail programme, There was plenty of advice how to set a smtp-something and pop-something and a lot of different ‘something’, but nothing worked. Surprisingly, this easy step-to-step explanation how to make Gmail work DID work for me. Now I have two mail boxes on my mac os, – no problem!
    Thanks again!

  17. Gerard

    Hi I am happy to have found your site. Thank you.

    I am on Mac Book 10.5.8
    My problem with Gmail is that I came to India some months ago and I had a message from google saying that someone is trying to use my account to send an email, so they disconnect my gmail on Mac Mail and I can access my mail only through gmail’s website. Now it has been 7 months that I can’t use my email Mac Mail; which I prefer first here that I can read and work on my emails offline very handy with the often poor internet connexion here.
    Thank’s for help how to bypass this security of gmail and get back to Macmail.

    1. Yes Gerard, just follow the steps here and it should work fine.

  18. Ron johnson

    Not a single entry on this page shows how to fix the problem. They all just id the problem.

    1. What problem is that Ron? If it’s the can’t login problem, check out this thread at Apple Support.
      https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3692970

  19. Dave

    I’ve been using gmail successfully for years with my apple Mail (OSX 10.8.5). However yesterday I added a new gmail account to Mail and now I’m having problems.

    I set the second account up exactly like the first but obviously with its own login.

    The problem I get is that now no emails are received by either gmail account(in Mail, I can see the email in the google browser app) unless I close down Mail and reopen it. This is not ideal as I like to check for emails every several minutes and generally leave my Mail app open continuously.

    I can send email from both gmail accounts and I receive them instantly. I have several other accounts added to my Mail app, so I can test this quite easily.

    Upon further inspection I noticed that the email is actually being received into Mail. I see them under the [gmail] folders > All mail. But I’m just not getting them in my Mail ‘inbox’.

    Any idea how to fix this, I cant seem to find an answer on the internet.

    1. We use Apple Mail with 4 or 5 gmail accounts no problems. I’d give the free apple tech support a ring, or if you are out of your 90 day free support, or don’t have Applecare, try posting to the Apple help forum. It sounds like a setting gone wrong somewhere.

  20. Dave

    This helps but is not ideal: http://support.apple.com/kb/TS5367

    Because I’m physically having to close and open connections to the gmail server. Rather than letting mail collect mail for me every few minutes.

    Also it is extremely slow, I have a few email accounts (not just the gmail ones) that I need to keep track of, closing and opening connections for all email accounts just to update the inbox of the gmail ones is well… stupid.

    1. That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen Apple say! It should work without having to quit mail.

  21. Daniele

    Hello,
    And many thanks for the great tutorial. I have a few questions if do not mind. As to this please note that I am using Mail 8 under Yosemite.

    1. Is there the possibility to have one folder with just the received or archived emails?
    2. I have tried to choose the folders to subscribe to but the system shows me just an empty list. To be honest the same is happening with the Yahoo account. What shall I do?
    3. is there a way to fully delete a message instead of leaving it among all mail?

    Thanks a lot for your time and attention, Daniele

  22. thank you! i just went through this, got stuck at some point but that was totally me trying to breeze through..
    the images are very helpfull

  23. Donna Wilson

    Hi. There are no problems with the mail account set-up, but I do have one problem I have not been able to figure out how to fix. When I forward an mail to people with PCs, it now shows up as an attachment. Not an issue when forwarding to Macs.

    The setting is not set up to send as an attachment, but I can’t figure out how to “fix” this bug. Your expertise is much appreciated; I’m a Peace Corps Volunteer serving in Namibia and there is ZERO Apple expertise here!

    1. It’s a known problem with some versions of Microsoft Exchange Server and Apple mail.
      http://support.microsoft.com/kb/969854

      It’s a microsoft problem and here’s how the PC user can solve it from their end
      http://support2.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;312351&Product=oex

      To solve it from your end, try this:

      Go to Mail > Preferences > Composing, and set “Message Format” to plain text.
      GO to Edit > Attachments and check ‘Always Send Windows-Friendly Attachments’

      This article might help:
      http://kb.mit.edu/confluence/pages/viewpage.action?pageId=4981187

      If you are desperate, this app claims to fix it from the Macintosh side for $15:
      http://lokiware.info/Attachment-Tamer

  24. Margaret Warren

    When I click on the “mail” icon, MAIL shows up at the top left of the window, but no window appears. It worked fine yesterday, but nothing happens today and it is very frustrating.

  25. Joseph

    I tried doing this, but I can’t get past the part where you enter your name, Gmail address, and password. I enter the info, click on “Set Up”, and it resets and the address/password fields are blank again. It’s an endless loop of fail. I’m using two-step verification, so I enter the password generated for the app, which should work just fine. I’m running 10.10.1, so I’m as current as can be. Does anyone have any ideas?

    1. Nixie

      Were you able to figure this out? Mine keeps doing the same thing.

    2. Kiah

      Hi, i was having the same problem and it was so frustrating but i figured it out! when you go to add an account, instead of choosing “gmail” click “add CalDAV account” instead and type the info. It worked for me! hope this helps.

      1. chrys

        work for me as well!!
        thanks!!

  26. Elaine

    When I type in my name, email (gmail email),and password I keep getting the message “Logging in to the Google IMAP server “imap.gmail.com” 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.” The use name and password are correct. HELP!!!

  27. Jim

    Getting ready to set up gmail on a new Mac Mini. One great gmail feature I am afraid will not work is the gmail tabs, which pulls “promotions” and social site messages into separate tabs, allowing more efficient review of our “primary” messages. Anyone know of a way to keep this on a Mac? (The Gmail app for iPad does include this feature but not sure ther is a similar app for regular Mac)

  28. Mary

    I accidently clicked on “rebuild” in mail and wiped all my my mail clean. I’m desperate to retrieve important messages. Can someone help this nong?

    1. If you use gmail they will all still be on the gmail server if you use these suggested settings. So just wait and let them sync again. Otherwise give apple a ring and see if they can help you get them back from a time-machine backup.

  29. Beth

    Thanks so much for the helpful info. Just wondering if you may be able to help – I want to keep a copy of all my old mail on Apple Mail, then clear out all the clutter from my Gmail. Only problem is that they are synced so when I delete from Gmail it deletes from Apple too. Is there a way around this? So I can store all my old emails on Apple, and totally declutter my Gmail?

    1. Copy the emails from gmail to the ‘On My Mac’ folder in the left folders pane in mail, this will make a local copy, then they will stay on your mac even if you delete from gmail.

  30. What a clear and helpful instruction to put a gmail account site so that it is on my normal Mac Mail window. It all went so easily, as explained, but although I can send messages from it , it does not show any incoming mail. All incoming mail is visible only on the Google site. I really would like to see incoming mail on the Mac Mail window together with the other account boxes set up on the Mac using Virgin Media blueyonder. Have I failed to use an appropriate setting in the Behaviour window in the Preferences ? Or?

    1. All the incoming mail should work. Anyone got any ideas?

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