How to Enable Gmail via IMAP in Your Email Program

Use your favorite email client to access Gmail

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 don't have to use 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. It 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 using the IMAP protocol, activate IMAP in Gmail.

  1. Open Gmail in a web browser.

  2. Select the gear icon in the upper-right corner.

    A Gmail inbox with the Settings gear highlighted
  3. Select Settings.

    Gmail with the Settings menu item highlighted
  4. Select the Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab.

    Gmail settings with the Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab highlighted
  5. In the IMAP access section, select Enable IMAP.

    The Enable IMAP option
  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 the link to learn how to set up Gmail on your device. 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.

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

IMAP Server (Receiving Mail)

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

SMTP Server (Sending Mail)

  • SMTP Server:
  • 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 offers POP access for email clients.


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.