Set up a Gmail Account Using the Mac's Mail Application

Access your Gmail account without using a browser

Google’s Gmail has a lot going for it. Its basic requirements are an internet connection and a supported browser, such as Safari. Because Gmail supports most browsers, it's a natural choice for many users, especially those who travel a lot and never know where they'll have the opportunity to connect to the web and grab their messages.

Information in this article applies to the Mail application in all versions of macOS through macOS Catalina and all OS X operating systems on Mac computers.

Hands typing on keyboard.
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Gmail and Apple Mail

Gmail’s web-based interface works fine for most people, who can use any computing device to access their webmail. When it comes to using Gmail at home or on a Mac laptop, you may prefer to use Apple’s Mail application. Using a single application, Mail, you keep all your email messages organized in one app.

The concept of creating a Gmail account in Apple Mail is simple enough. Gmail makes use of standard mail protocols, and Apple Mail supports the methods of communicating with the Gmail servers. You can add a Gmail account the same way you'd add any POP or IMAP account you currently use. Most versions of OS X and the newer macOS have an automated system that creates Gmail accounts for you.

You can create a Gmail account either directly in Mail or from System Preferences. The System Preferences option is a handy way to keep all your social media and your email accounts together so you can easily make changes that are automatically reflected in any OS X app that makes use of them. The two methods, using Mail and System Preferences, are nearly identical and end up creating the same data in both Mail and System Preferences. The Gmail account makes use of IMAP because Google recommends IMAP over POP.

If you would rather use Gmail's POP service, you can find the needed information in the Gmail POP3 Setting guide. You also need to use the manual setup process.

Setting up Gmail in​ Recent OS Versions

The process of setting up a Google account in macOS Catalina, macOS Mojave, macOS High Sierra, macOS Sierra, OS X El Capitan, OS X Yosemite, and OS X Mavericks in the Mac System Preferences uses the automatic configurations already in existence in the operating system:

  1. Select the Apple logo > System Preferences.

  2. Select Internet Accounts.

    System Preferences window in macOS
  3. In the Internet Accounts pane are email and social media account types that are compatible with the Mac. Select Google.

    Internet Accounts system preferences screen in macOS
  4. Select Open Browser when prompted to do so in the drop-down window.

    Internet Accounts drop-down screen for authorize Google account
  5. Enter your Google account name (email address) in the window that opens and select Next.

    Google sign in screen in macOS
  6. Enter your Google account password and then select Next or Set Up (depending on your OS version).

    Google password screen in Mac Mail setup
  7. The drop-down panel changes to display a list of apps on your Mac that can make use of your Google account. Select Mail and any of the other apps, then select Done.

    Select Google features to include in macOS
  8. Your Google email account is automatically set up in the Mail application.

    You can also access the Internet Accounts preference pane by launching the Mail application and selecting Mail > Accounts in the menu bar.

Setting up Gmail in OS X Mountain Lion and OS X Lion

Setting up Gmail in OS X Mountain Lion and OS X Lion differs slightly from later versions of the operating system.

  1. Launch System Preferences by clicking on its Dock icon or by selecting System Preferences from the Apple menu.

  2. Select the Mail, Contacts & Calendars preference pane.

  3. Select Gmail.

  4. Enter your Gmail email address and password and then click Set Up.

  5. The drop-down window displays a list of apps on your Mac that can make use of your Gmail account. Place a check next to Mail and click Add Accounts.

If You Use Older Versions of OS X

If you use a version of OS X Snow Leopard or older, set up Mail to access your Gmail account from within the Mail application instead of from System Preferences.

  1. Launch Mail and select Add Account to open the Add Account screen.

  2. Enter your Gmail email address and password. The Mail application recognizes the Gmail address and offers to set up the account automatically.

  3. Place a check in the Automatically set up the account box.

  4. Click the Create button.

That’s all there is to it. Mail is ready to grab your Gmail.

Manually Set up Mail for a Gmail Account

Old versions of Mail (2.x and earlier) didn't have an automated method for setting up a Gmail account. You can still create a Gmail account in Mail, but you need to set up the account manually, just as you would any other IMAP-based email account. The settings and information you need are:

  • Account type: IMAP
  • Email address: [gmailusername]
  • Password: Your Gmail password
  • Username: Your Gmail address without the ""
  • Incoming Mail Server:
  • Outgoing Mail Server (SMTP):

After you enter this information, Mail can access your Gmail account.

How to Access Gmail in the Mail Application

After you set up your Gmail account, open the Mail application on your Mac by clicking its icon in the Dock. In the left column, under Inbox, you'll see Google listed along with Apple's own iCloud mail and any other mail accounts you've entered. Click on Google to read and reply to your Gmail.

Gmail is not the only popular email account that you can use with Mail. Yahoo and AOL mail accounts are just a few clicks away using the same method.

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