The Easy Way to Setup Your Gmail Account in Apple Mail

The newer versions of Apple’s OSX operating system allow for seamless integration of Google’s Gmail service. With Mail, Calendar, Notes, and even Messaging all syncing back to your Google account, you get a smooth and continuous flow of information on your Mac with no need to log into your Google account via the web.

Apple tries to make the process of setting up your Gmail email account inside Mac OSX easy, but there are a few sticking points. Below I outline the necessary steps to get Gmail playing nicely with Mac OSX.

Before We Start

Before we get going, I’m providing these instructions using OSX 10.8.3, but they should be similar for most recent and future versions of OSX.

The best way to use Gmail inside of OSX is to set it up as IMAP. Make sure IMAP is turned on in your Gmail account before proceeding. To confirm, login to your Gmail account and go to Settings > Forwarding POP/IMAP and click Enable IMAP.

The Set Up

First things first, open System Preferences on your Mac and click Mail, Contacts and Calendars.


With this menu open, depending on whether or not you currently have any accounts listed, you will either see a list of your accounts, or a list of possible accounts. If you do not see the list of account services, click the plus sign in the bottom left corner. Once you see the list of possible account types, click the Gmail option.


A Gmail window will appear. Enter the name you want to display when you send emails, your Gmail address, and your Gmail password.


Once you click the Set Up button, a list of the Mac services you want to sync with your Gmail account will appear. Un-check the services you do not wish to include, and click Add Account to continue.


You might see a warning letting you know that you need to continue setup inside of Mail. Click Continue to open up Apple Mail to complete the setup.


Make sure IMAP is selected under Account Type, and enter a descriptive name for the account under Description.

The Incoming Mail Server should be set to, and your username should be your Gmail email address. Make sure to enter your Gmail password, and click Create.


You should see a message that Mail is checking the connection, which should take a minute to complete. Once done, you will be taken back to Apple Mail. Your emails should start downloading.

Head back over to System Preferences. Make sure all the services you wish to sync are checked, and if your custom name did not save, click the Details button and under Description, enter a good descriptive name for your account.


Click OK, and your Gmail account is now setup on your Mac. Now when you get a new email message, it will appear inside of Apple Mail. Anything you do inside of your account on your Mac will sync with your IMAP Gmail account, including the Gmail web interface.

Fast Facts

Here are some fast facts about IMAP and POP email.

  • IMAP – The abbreviation IMAP stands for Internet Message Access Protocol. Basically it’s an Internet protocol that allows you to fetch mail and manage mail on a server.
  • POP – POP stands for Post Office Protocol. This is similar to IMAP, but POP only supports basic download and delete features.
  • Some History – POP email was created in 1985 and was one of the first widely accepted Internet Mail Protocols.


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