How to setup OS X’s Mail.app to use Gmail

In a previous post I mentioned that I had already configured my Mac to use some of Google’s free services and how I felt that this was a cheap way to get some of the same features offered in MobileMe. Namely, I configured Mail.app for use with Gmail, synced my Address Book to my Gmail Contacts, and connected iCal to my Google Calendar. In this post, I explain how to setup Leopard Mail.app for reading Gmail.

IMAP vs POP3

Google provides three ways to access Gmail, their free email service; via the browser, POP3, or IMAP. The Post Office Protocol version 3 (POP3) is a standard protocol used by local e-mail clients to retrieve e-mail from a remote server and download it to the client. IMAP is also a standard protocol for accessing email but unlike POP3 the email stays on the remote server. With POP3 you are limited to reading your email from one location. With IMAP the email stays on the server and you can read it from any computer. IMAP is the method I use to access my Gmail in Mail.app. If I read an email in a web browser then it is marked as read on the server and in Mail.app.

Configuration

How to setup OS Xs Mail.app to use Gmail picture 2Configuring Mail.app to use Gmail is relatively easy. Google has provided excellent instructions on their Gmail Help web site. I have provided my own version here. I think screen shots help in understanding. Launch Mail.app and click Mail->Preferences from the menu bar. Click on the Accounts tab and then click the “+” symbol on the lower left to start the account creation wizard.

How to setup OS Xs Mail.app to use Gmail picture 4
Enter your name, your Gmail address and password. Be sure to deselect the “Automatically set up account” check box. This check box is enabled by default and automatically creates an entry for POP3 access. We want to setup for IMAP. Now click continue.

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Click the Account Type drop down and select IMAP. Be sure to change the Incoming Mail Server address to imap.gmail.com. Leave the other fields as they are and click Continue.

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The next screen is for setting up the Outgoing Mail server information. Other than entering a description, e.g Gmail, you can go ahead and click continue. This will take you to a confirmation summary page. If it all looks correct go ahead and click create. The new account should now appear in the Account column on the left.
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Tweaks

There are a few small details that will make reading Gmail in Mail.app easier. We will need to change a few things to make Mail.app play nice with Gmail. Google has a number of DO’s and DON’Ts that will ensure a smooth experience using Mail.app. Google wants all deleted or sent mail to use the local trash and sent folders. While still in the Accounts tab make sure to deselect all the checkboxes except for “Store draft messages on the server“.How to setup OS Xs Mail.app to use Gmail picture 9

Summary

One of the benefits of using Mail.app with Gmail is that you can now take advantage of all of Mail.app goodness. You can set fonts, colors, backgrounds, and signatures, or one of those interesting templates and pick addresses right from your Address Book. Next post, I’ll tell you how to sync your Gmail contact straight with Leopard Address Book.
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8 responses on “How to setup OS X’s Mail.app to use Gmail”

  1. Doesn't work on Snow Leopard. Not your fault though. Somethings is seriously wrong with google and/or Mac for making such an unbelievable mess out of setting up email accounts.

  2. Everett,
    You can setup Gmail to pull in mail from other accounts or you can setup you other accounts to forward to Gmail. I have some of my email accounts setup this way. Setup is straight forward. Login to your Gmail account and click Setting (upper right hand corner) and then go to the Accounts and Import tab. Click the Add POP3 email account button and follow the wizard.

    More details can be found here: http://mail.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?hl=en&ctx=mail&answer=21288

    Thanks for dropping by and I hope this was helpful.

  3. Have some questions re setup. Excellent notes by the way.
    I have several mail accounts(one business, with several e-mail addresses, that are through a web server) and 1 personal thru comcast.net(but have a few e-mail addresses.
    Do I set-up 2 distinct G-mail accnts?(business, personal) and then forward the other e-mail addresses through those for the Google filtering?
    I’m mainly interested in using it for cutting down on SPAM and also have a new iPhone

    Thanks for any input

  4. True. But … those are the settings that Google recommends and supports.

    Deleting:

    Do NOT save deleted messages on the server. Messages that are deleted from an IMAP folder (except for those in [Gmail]/Spam or [Gmail]/Trash) only have that label removed and still exist in All Mail. Hence, your client doesn't need to store an extra copy of a deleted message.
    Do NOT save deleted messages to your [Gmail]/Trash folder because this will delete a message in all folders.
    Do NOT save deleted messages to your [Gmail]/All Mail folder as some clients will try to empty this folder and ultimately fail. This can lead to delayed mail access or excessive battery consumption on a mobile device.

  5. True. But … those are the settings that Google recommends and supports. I don't know how their system is designed but I would caution you to use the service as specified.

    Deleting:

    Do NOT save deleted messages on the server. Messages that are deleted from an IMAP folder (except for those in [Gmail]/Spam or [Gmail]/Trash) only have that label removed and still exist in All Mail. Hence, your client doesn't need to store an extra copy of a deleted message.
    Do NOT save deleted messages to your [Gmail]/Trash folder because this will delete a message in all folders.
    Do NOT save deleted messages to your [Gmail]/All Mail folder as some clients will try to empty this folder and ultimately fail. This can lead to delayed mail access or excessive battery consumption on a mobile device.

  6. When you adjust the "Mailbox behaviors" and uncheck the "move deleted messages to the trash mailbox & store deleted messages on the server" it cans your ability to use the shortcut 'command + K' to Erase all messages.

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