How to Setup IMAP for Gmail

Checking  E-mail  has  become  a  part of  everyone’s  daily  routine.  Gmail came as blessing  for many giving users a  free  no-nonsense  e-mail  service with loads of  free mailbox space. There have many innovative features that have been built  around  the  e-mail  service  itself. One  of  the  last few  improvements was the inclusion of IMAP which seemed to have gone somewhat unnoticed. This post deals with IMAP, IMAP settings, Configuring IMAP in Gmail etc


What is IMAP?

We’re  all  used  to  POP3  and  Google has  already  given  us  that  for  free as well,  so why  should  anyone  now move  to  IMAP?  IMAP  does  many things  that  POP3  doesn’t,  and  a  lot of these features  make management of  mailboxes  much  simpler.  IMAP allows mails and their statuses to be synchronised with the server all the time. this means you can have multiple  clients  from  different  locations getting an update of the mails.


Enabling the IMAP feature on GMail

Before  you  start  with  setting  up Gmail’s IMAP on any of your devices, you  need  a  Gmail  ID  if  you  don’t already  have one.  Login  to  your account and click on the Settings link on the top. Click on the Forwarding and  POP/IMAP tab  to  change  the settings.  Click  on the  enable  IMAP checkbox on  the bottom and  click on the Save Changes button. With this done,  Gmail  is  ready  to  provide  you with its IMAP service.


Enabling IMAP on Outlook 

Now  it’s  time  to  setup  an  account  on Microsoft  Outlook  for  IMAP.  We  are using  Microsoft  Outlook  2003  for  this purpose. It works the same on any client that supports IMAP, which includes even mobile device applications like Outlook for Windows mobile.

First  click  on  Tools  >  E-Mail Accounts. Click on the Add a new e-mail  account  radio button and  click Next. 

Click  on  the  IMAP  radio  button. enter all the necessary information such as your name and your Gmail e-mail address.

You will need  to  enter  the  IMAP  server address  and  the  SMTP  server  for the outgoing  mail.  If  you  are  using  some other  IMAP  service  or  one  provided  by your ISP, enter that information here.

For  Gmail  users, enter  the  IMAP incoming server address as and  the outgoing  server as enter the username for the account as your Gmail address  in  its complete  form –

In the case of Gmail, additional security  features  need  to  be enabled  and  set.  Click  on  the more Settings button  for  that. Click  on  the  Outgoing Server tab  and  enable  and  checkbox for my outgoing  server  (SMTP) requires authentication. Set  it to  use  the  same  settings  as your incoming mail server.Next,  click  on  the  Advanced tab. Gmail’s IMAP incoming server runs on  port  993  so  set  it  to  that  and  the Outgoing  SMTP server’s  port to  465. Click the checkboxes of both the servers to enable SSL. Click OK when done.


Downloading and accessing the mails

When  the  settings  have  been put  in place, Outlook  or  the mail  client  you are using will download the mail structure used on the server.  In the case of Gmail, there are not any folders but just  labels. New folders with the exact same  labels  on  Gmail  will  be created  in your mail  client.

You will notice that IMAP is initially slow  as  it  needs  to  download mail  folders  and  the  topics  in each one of  them. Unlike POP3, all  the  mail  isn’t  downloaded together  for  offline  use.

It is continuously synchronized with the Gmail server. every change  that you make in  any  client  anywhere  will  be affected on all the clients simultaneously.  This means,  you  can actually compose a draft on your local  client  and  save  it  to  the Gmail drafts  folder, and you can send it anytime  from  any  other  computer or device.

Folders in Gmail

Gmail  doesn’t  use  folders  but  it  uses labels which  are  somewhat  the  equivalent of  folders  in your mail client. New labels  can  be  created  through Gmail’s settings option. You can also create labels in Gmail by creating new folders within the IMAP folder on your local client. to dump mails into a folder on Gmail, set a label for the mail.

Do this by clicking on the checkbox of a mail and clicking on the more Actions dropdown menu and selecting a label from there.Gmail has  loads  of  free  space  and this can also be used  to backup all of your previous mails online.  IMAP acts as an easy gateway to this. Simply drag and  drop  the  folder  from  your  mail client to the IMAP folder. mails will be automatically uploaded to your Gmail account. You will never have  to worry about losing your e-mail ever again.


Google Apps users can also enable IMAP functionality, but need to remember to type in their complete email address including the domain on which Google Apps is being used.

Example: instead of

The settings (especially the port settings) vary depending on the client that you use. Outlook 2003 uses port 465 for its outgoing SMTP port, whereas a Mozilla Thunderbird user would have to configure the client to use TLS authentication on port 587.

Thanks to smparekh of


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