How To Set Up Gmail With A Desktop Mail Client

How To Set Up Gmail With A Desktop Mail Client
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We love using for its many features, but if you want offline access and a more “desktop-like” experience, you can get your Gmail messages delivered to a desktop client, like Outlook or Apple Mail. Here’s how.

Every mail client is a little bit different, so we can’t show you every way to set up Gmail, but in general, it should be pretty similar. Some programs will set up Gmail automatically with just your username and your password, while others will require you to set them up manually. If you have a Google Apps account (that is, if you’re using Gmail but your email is not an email address), you’ll also have to do it manually. Here are a few examples using the most popular email clients.

Initial Setup (For All Clients)

Before you do anything, you’ll need to enable IMAP in Gmail, which will let you access your accounts on the desktop. To do this, head into Gmail’s Settings and go to the Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab. Scroll down to the IMAP section and enable IMAP. Then save your changes, and open up your desktop email client of choice to set it up using the following instructions.

Set Up Gmail in Microsoft Outlook

To set up Gmail in Microsoft Outlook (we’ll be using Outlook 2010 for this demonstration), open up Outlook and run through the following steps:

  1. Head to File > Account Settings > Account Settings. Click the New button to create a new account.
  2. Click on the “Manually configure server settings” radio button at the bottom of the new account window. Then, hit Next.
  3. Choose Internet Email at the next screen and hit Next.
  4. Type in your name and Gmail address under “User Information. Change your Account Type from POP3 to IMAP, and add as your Incoming Mail Server. Type in as your Outgoing Mail Server.
  5. Type in your full Gmail address (i.e. [email protected]) and password under Logon Information.
  6. Hit the More Settings button and go to the Advanced tab. Under Incoming Server, type 993 and set your encryption from “None” to “SSL”. Under Outgoing Server, type 587 and set your encryption to TLS.
  7. Head to the Outgoing Server tab of the same window and check the box that says “My outgoing server requires authentication”. Hit OK, and hit Next to complete your account setup.

If all goes well, Outlook should send a test message, and let you know that your account was successfully set up! Check out the video above to see this process in action.

Set Up Gmail in Apple Mail

To add a new account in Apple Mail:

  1. Head to Mail > Preferences in the menu bar and go to the Accounts tab. Hit the plus sign in the bottom left corner to add a new account.
  2. Type in your Name, full Gmail address, and password and hit Continue. If you’re using an address, you’re probably done—Mail should fill in the rest of the settings for you. If you’re using a Google Apps account, you’ll need to do a few more things.
  3. On the next window, choose IMAP as your Account Type, type in a description (something like “Gmail”), and type Change your username to your full Gmail address and type in your password. Click Continue.
  4. On the next screen, type a description, type as your Outgoing Mail Server, and check the Use Authentication. Click Continue, and click Continue on the next screen as well. Hit Create to take the account online.

When you’re done, Mail should start downloading all your messages to your inbox, and you’ll be ready to read all your email right from the desktop. Check out the video above to see this process in action. Note that Mail doesn’t automatically use Gmail’s Sent, Spam, or Trash folders—it’ll create its own, which can be annoying. To fix this, just select Gmail’s Sent Mail folder, then go to Mailbox > Use This Mailbox For > Sent in the menu bar. Repeat this process for Trash and Junk, too, to make sure all your folders sync up.

Set Up Gmail in Mozilla Thunderbird

Setup in Mozilla Thunderbird is pretty much the same as in Apple Mail. To add Gmail to Tunderbird:

  1. Head to Tools > Accounts, and at the bottom of the window that pops up, click the Account Actions drop-down. Hit “Add Mail Account”.
  2. Type in your name, email address, and password and click Continue. Thunderbird will try to set up the account automatically. If it fails to do so, hit the “Manual Setup” button.
  3. In the sidebar, find the account you just created and click on Server Settings. Type in for your Server Name, type 993 for your port, and make sure your username is your entire Gmail address. Under Connection Security, pick SSL/TLS and pick Normal Password as your Authentication Method.
  4. Hit OK to finish the account creation process.

Once Thunderbird imports your account, you’ll be able to send and receive mail right from your desktop.

If you’re using a mail client different from one of the above, the setup shouldn’t be too different—just make sure you’re typing in your full Gmail address as your username, and that you’re using the correct ports and encryption types as described above in the account settings.


  • It might be possible, but that doesn’t mean you should.

    I know you’re old and you really like Outlook, but now is the time to break free. Give it a go – it’ll be worth it.

    Find a tutorial on how to use Gmail Labels – that’s the most help you’ll need.

  • Even services like Gmail that support encryption between your computer and their service can’t guarantee your message will be transmitted securely between their mail server and your recipient’s mail server. This is because if the recipient’s mail server doesn’t support encryption (which it often doesn’t) Gmail is forced to fallback to transmitting your message in plain text. The same goes for essentially all personal and corporate mail environments. I use a free encryption service from Send Technology. All you need to do is use the secure Web form at to type your message, list the recipients, and send the message. The recipient gets notification that a secure message is available, with a link that embeds the decryption key. A recipient who never used this technology before gets an invitation to create a free account. The combination of the recipient’s account password and the embedded key allows the message to display in the browser and the recipient can download any attachments and send a secure reply back.

  • Be sure when using Outlook to go to ‘Tools-Options-Send’ and uncheck ‘Save copy of sent messages in the “Sent Items” folder’. Or you will end up duplicating the sent message in every ‘conversation’, which makes viewing online especially terribly frustrating.

  • I think storing a message on anyone’s server is just asking for trouble. I would only use a service which downloads all of my messages and leaves NOTHING on the server. I guess gmail is ok, as long as you use POP and not IMAP.

  • I use IMAP so I then have a cloud backup of my email. If anything should go wrong with my computers or offline backups in the office. I then have access to my email and can continue on my merry way.

  • I came here by mistake while looking for a way to ELIMINATE my desktop client, and use Gmail to handle emails to my domain address.

    This article seems to be a backward step

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