How to set up Gmail in Apple Mail

Gmail seems to be the main email provider and no wonder – it is free and it has the best spam filtering and protection. But the Gmail web interface is a bit clunky so it is nice to be able to use Gmail with the built in Apple mail program. Here’s how to set up Apple mail to work with Gmail.

1.  Make sure you have a Gmail account.

You need to know your Gmail address (e.g. and password  because you will need to enter them into Apple mail.  If you don’t have a Gmail account here is how to sign up

– Go to and click on “Sign Up”

– Fill in the details – you’ll need to pick a gmail email address and a password.  After this is done you will get a verification page that says something like this at the bottom:

Gmail signup complete

2. Enter your Gmail address into Apple mail.

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

mail preferences

– 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 asked which email provider – select Google.

-You will be prompted for your Google login details:.

– 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

If there are problems in Apple mail with Gmail this is where they seem to be caused –  multiple drafts appearing, deleted emails reappearing etc.  It can take a bit of trial and error getting these settings right but these settings below have been working for me for over a year so this should give you a great head start. In these drop-down menus you will find a long list of folders. Some of them are folders in your Gmail account and some of them are folders on your home computer.

Here are the settings I suggest:

My recommended settings for mailbox behaviours when using Gmail in Apple mail. Junk is the Gmail junk folder. The only local folder is ‘Drafts’.

Notes on Mailbox Behaviours

Select the  local ‘On My Mac’ Drafts folder not the Gmail Drafts folder. This  means that any drafts I begin to type on my home computer will not be available from my iOS devices. The other option is that you select the Gmail  ‘Drafts’ folder.  You should save draft messages on Gmail if you want your drafts to show when you open Gmail on the web. But the problem with this is Apple mail makes a backup copy of your draft email  every few minutes as you are typing it. All these draft emails made by Apple mail will get stored in your gmail Drafts folder and you end up multiple versions of the same mail message.

You need to select the [Gmail] /Sent Mail folder because Gmail automatically keeps a copy of your sent messages and puts them in its ‘send mail folder.’  This tells Apple mail where to find those sent emails which is useful if you want to se your sent emails from different computers.  You only need this option checked if your email provider doesn’t keep a copy of your sent emails automatically.

You don’t need to select a trash mailbox at all  because  Google automatically keeps a copy of your trashed mail. The “Trash” option is for email providers who don’t keep a copy of all your deleted emails. If  you select a mailbox here Apple mail will save all your deleted items to this  trash folder in case you want to undo the delete. This will result in multiple copies of all your trashed emails because Google already keeps a copy.

You want the Google “junk” option ticked not the local On My Mac one because Gmail automatically takes care of junk mail –  you don’t want the Apple mail program deleting it. Don’t turn on the Apple junk mail filters. Gmail automatically sorts spam before it reaches your computer.

– 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.


20 responses to “How to set up Gmail in Apple Mail”

  1. Manuel


    in the article you say: “You want the Google “junk” option ticked not the local On My Mac”
    but in the picture the is selected the “On My Mac” junk folder

    Which one is correct?

    1. Yes that is the Gmail/Junk folder. It doesn’t have the [Gmail] name in it for some reason but it is the Gmail folder in the picture.

  2. Manuel

    Moreover I had to select the Gmail/Trash folder, otherwise the mails were complitely removed without using the trash

  3. Michael Duane Brown

    Wayne is wrong about name with icon. Manuel is correct. The name with the icon should be “[Gmail]/Spam,” not “Junk” as way says… twice.

  4. Dave Spangler

    2017 iMac OS 10.13.6 Wife’s gmail went offline on Apple Mail. Mine works fine. I set up her own Gmail login with, checked iMap setting on, sent test email from my gmail, it all works. BUT I cannot get her gmail via Apple Mail to go online. Eventually removed her gmail from Apple mail, restarted, and attempted add gmail account. Process after email identity and password hangs. Same when I attempt to add internet account through Preferences, says cannot confirm gmail account ?? I can still send gmail to her account from my gmail. ??#! Is reinstalling OS High Sierra next move?

    1. Your removing of Gmail and then adding it again was a good idea. Strange that it didn’t work.
      Is this all on the same computer or do you have 2 computers?
      Some other things to try…
      – does your email work if added to your wife’s computer
      – try adding your wife’s gmail to a different computer
      – completely remove all Gmail accounts from the computer under ‘Internet Accounts’ in System Preferences

  5. Kevin


    I had an issue with the set up and wonder if anyone has some advice. I get to the point where i am prompted to “select apps you want to use with this account”, I click “mail” and then hit “done”, the done key grays out and then nothing happens, if i click “cancel” I have to start over and the same thing happens.

  6. Terry Daline

    Kevin: i have the exact same problem – were you able to resolve it ??
    thanks – td

  7. Joe T

    I struck the same problem as Terry this morning. My new Macbook Pro won’t let me reestablish my gmail account. Hangs as above. I even tried 2 step authentication, but doesn’t help. The gmail works ok on my old (mid 2009) Mackbook Pro, though. It’s running an old version of Mac OS. Maybe it’s something to do with Mac Sierra and Google not cooperating!


  8. Ed

    I have the same problem. Somebody can help ? Thanks

  9. Ed G

    I set up Gmail amount in MAC mail. I can send messages from gmail successfully. However, any message sent from my .mac address is treated as spam/trash by gmail – so the receiving person doesn’t see my message. The same message sent from .mindspring or .gmail is received correctly.
    Any clues?

  10. Anthony

    Correct settings below.

    Don’t save sent messages on the server. Sent messages are automatically copied to the Gmail/Sent folder if your email client uses SMTP.
    Save draft messages on the server if you want your drafts to show when you open Gmail on the web.

    Don’t save deleted messages on the server. You can find messages you delete from an IMAP folder in your “All Mail” label in Gmail.
    Don’t change your IMAP settings to save deleted messages in the Trash. When you do this, any messages you delete from your email client will get permanently deleted from Gmail in 30 days.

    Junk mail & spam
    Don’t turn on your client’s junk mail filters. Gmail automatically sorts spam and malware before it reaches your client.

  11. Anthony

    Sent Mailbox under Mailbox behaviours should also be selected to the local mailbox in Apple Mail as Google auto puts sent emails into Google’s sent mailbox.

    The setting indicated above by the OP will duplicate your sent items.

    1. I have done it as above so as to make the sent mails available on other computers as well. Sometimes I’m on my laptop and want to search for an email that I sent form my desktop. I think this is the only way to sync those 2.

  12. Alison

    Help! I don’t want to keep every email I have deleted in AllMail on the gmail server. After years of deleting, the AllMail file used up my storage unbeknownst to me. Now I would like to set up my MacMail 13.0 (10.15.3 Catalina) to delete my email forever. I see different solutions/settings presented and I am confused. Can anyone help me? Thanks!

  13. jack

    What is the proper setting under “sServer Setting
    Earthlink or Google

    1. If your earthlink email address is hosted by google then put in the google settings.

  14. Alicia Hunt

    Gmail doesn’t want to send mail anymore, using applemail. I think that i need new server information for gmail. Where would i find that?

    1. Apple is playing more nicely with Google recently. Just select add new account, select Gmail, it will add the information automatically. All you need is your Google email and password.

      1. Tammy

        Hi Wayne
        So sorry to reach out on a slightly different topic. Does mac mail cache a copy of gmail synced with google? I am trying to locate it on a computer where the gmail account was resynced but with a new account. old emails have of course dissappeared. So instead of syncing the new account with the old emails, it has removed the old emails and loaded only the new ones

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