How to Enable Gmail via IMAP in Your Email Program

Use your favorite email client to access your Gmail

Gmail, Google Drive, Google Photos and other Apps on iPhone screen

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Set up your Gmail account with IMAP to access your email from a variety of email applications, such as those used on iOS devices, Android devices, and personal computers. You aren't tied to a web browser for email access. You can change email programs on the fly and select applications that best fit your workflow and style.

What Is IMAP for Gmail?

IMAP is an internet protocol that allows email clients to communicate with an email service, such as Gmail. IMAP is a replacement for the older POP3 email protocol and offers many advantages, including the ability to keep the status of emails in sync, access multiple mailboxes on a single server, and allow for server-side searching of content.

Activate IMAP in Gmail

To access a Gmail account in your email program or mobile device via the IMAP protocol, activate IMAP in Gmail.

  1. Open Gmail in a web browser.

  2. Choose Settings (the gear icon).

  3. Select Settings.

    Settings menu item in Gear icon for Gmail
  4. Select the Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab.

  5. In the IMAP access section, select Enable IMAP.

    Enable IMAP radio button in Gmail settings
  6. Leave the other settings on the default selections.

  7. Select Save Changes.

How to Set Up Gmail With IMAP

After IMAP is enabled in Gmail, set up a new IMAP account in your email client of choice. If the email client is listed below, click on it to learn how to set up Gmail on your device quickly. Otherwise, follow the generic instructions for setting up Gmail with IMAP manually.

Manually Set Up Gmail With IMAP

If your email program is not listed above, open your application of choice and go to the screen where additional accounts are added. If the application gives you the option to select Gmail, follow the automatic setup process.

To find instructions on how to set up an email client correctly, perform a Google search with the name of the email client plus the phrase Gmail IMAP. For example, search for Mozilla Thunderbird Gmail IMAP if you use the Thunderbird email client.

Otherwise, if the email client does not present Gmail as a default option, you may be prompted to enter the server information manually. For Gmail, use the following information:

IMAP Server (Receiving Mail)

  • IMAP Server: imap.gmail.com
  • Port: 993
  • Require SSL: Yes
  • Username: Your Gmail email address
  • Password: Your Gmail email password

SMTP Server (Sending Mail)

  • SMTP Server: smtp.gmail.com
  • Port: 465
  • Require SSL/STARTTLS: Yes
  • Require SMTP authentication: Yes
  • Username: Your Gmail email address
  • Password: Your Gmail email password

If you use Google two-factor authentication, generate an app-specific password for any IMAP password fields.

If the email program does not support IMAP or if you prefer only to download newly arriving messages to your computer, Gmail also offers POP access for email clients.

Troubleshooting

If you encounter problems when setting up Gmail with a mail client, consider these possible issues:

  • The username or password is mistyped.
  • The server information is mistyped.
  • Two-factor authentification is enabled on your Google account that requires you to generate an app-specific password.
  • IMAP is not enabled in the Gmail settings.
  • The email client is not secure and doesn't support Google's latest security standards.

Unsecure Email Clients and Gmail

Gmail, by default, requires email clients that connect to its servers to meet specific security standards. If an email client is outdated, Gmail may not allow it to connect without first altering your account settings.

If you use a Gmail business account, you cannot alter the security settings. Contact your network administrator or IT department for more information.

It is highly recommended that you upgrade to a secure email client rather than allow unsecured clients to connect. However, you can enable access from less secure applications with information from Google.