What to Do When Gmail Is Not Syncing

Relax, you’ll be getting your Gmail emails soon on Android and iOS


 Erikona/Getty Images

If you have Gmail problems, particularly when syncing the mobile app with your Gmail account, you may be unable to perform some basic email functions. When you encounter sync issues, you may be unable to send and receive emails, you may not be able to open or read new emails, and apps may run slowly. To get things working as they should, re-sync your Gmail account.

Instructions in this article apply to mobile devices running Android 9.0, 8.1, or 8.0 and Apple devices on iOS 12 or iOS 11.

What to Do When Android Gmail Is Not Syncing

The most common instance of syncing problems with Gmail is between the main account and the Android app.

Follow these steps to sync Gmail with your Android device:

  1. Perform a manual sync. To check if it's possible to sync the app and your account, open the Gmail app and swipe from the top of the screen to the bottom. If this refreshes your inbox, use this swipe method to sync your email or set up automated syncing.

    Manually syncing Gmail is handy if you only check it periodically on a single device.

  2. Enable automated sync. Here's how to do it:

    1. Open the Gmail app.
    2. Tap the three-bar menu icon.
    3. Tap Settings, then tap your account name.
    4. In the Data usage heading, tap Sync Gmail.
    Settings, email address, Sync Gmail checkbox on Android
  3. Make sure you're online. You need to be online to sync your Gmail app, which requires either a Wi-Fi or cellular data connection.

    Disable Airplane Mode if it's turned on. Airplane Mode turns off internet and data connections, which prevents Gmail from syncing with mobile devices.

  4. Check your password. Go to mail.google.com and log in. If you get a password error, that may be why the app isn't syncing properly. Change your password on both devices and syncing may work again.

  5. Update the app. Downloading the latest version of the Gmail app may fix Gmail sync problems. Visit the Play Store and then tap Update to make sure Gmail is running the latest version.

  6. Clear Gmail app data. To clear stored Gmail files:

    1. Open the Settings app.
    2. Tap Apps and Notifications or, on older versions of Android, tap Apps.
    3. Tap the Gmail app.
    4. Tap Storage > Clear Storage.
    5. Confirm the action.
    Settings icon, Apps & notifications, Gmail app in Android

    On Samsung devices, go to Settings > Apps > Gmail > Permissions > Storage. Then, tap Clear Data and confirm your choice.

    Clearing app data shouldn't delete any emails or content from your Gmail account, only from the local device. However, if you have important emails on that device, back it up.

  7. Restart your device. Sometimes a restart is all it takes to get your smartphone or tablet working properly. To restart a device, press and hold the Power button, then tap Restart.

What to Do When iOS Gmail Is Not Working

Syncing problems with the official Gmail application on iOS or with Gmail in the Mail app are a little different. Although some of the same steps for Android apply, a few fixes are specific to iOS devices.

Enable IMAP

IMAP is the technology Gmail uses to send emails from its mail server to the device. It should be enabled by default, but if that changes for some reason, re-enable it.

To enable IMAP on an iOS device:

  1. Open a web browser on your computer (or open the iOS mobile web browser), go to the Gmail home page, and log in.

  2. Tap Settings (the gear icon) and select Settings.

    If you access mail.google.com with an iOS browser, you won't find the Settings gear icon.

    Settings menu in Gmail
  3. Tap Forwarding and POP/IMAP.

    Forwarding and POP/IMAP link in Gmail Settings
  4. Scroll to the IMAP access section and select Enable IMAP.

    Enable IMAP in Gmail Settings
  5. Select Save Changes.

Re-Add the Gmail Account

Sometimes you just have to start again.

To add your Gmail account to your iOS device:

  1. On your iOS device, go to Settings > Passwords & Accounts and tap your Gmail account.

  2. Tap Delete Account and confirm by tapping Delete Account again.

    Deleting Gmail From iOS Settings
  3. Go back to the Passwords & Accounts screen and tap Add Account > Google.

  4. Enter your Gmail account username and password.

    Re-adding your Google Account to iPhone

Reinstall the Gmail App

Delete the Gmail app from your iOS device. Then, go to the iOS App Store, search for Gmail, and reinstall the app.