Configuring Apple Mail 3.0 (Leopard) to use Imap with Gmail

I recently purchased my first iMac. I've been having all kinds of fun learning about OS X features as well as playing with the newly certified Unix system (Darwin) that powers the operating system.

Anyhow, I've been pleasantly surprised at the level of integration that I was able to achieve with Apple Mail and Gmail with Gmail's Imap forwarding. With Imap, Gmail exposes folders with the names of the labels you've created. You can customize Apple Mail to use the same folders as Gmail for Sent Messages, Drafts, and Spam.

The first thing to do is enable Imap forwarding in Gmail. Just click on settings, the choose "Forwarding and POP/IMAP". Then check the option to enable Imap and save your settings.

When you add your gmail account to Apple Mail, they have a wizard for Gmail accounts. That worked 90% for me but I had some problems with the outgoing server option. I checked Google's help page for connecting Apple mail and found the correct settings for the outgoing server. The outgoing server is simply "smtp.gmail.com" and the username is your gmail username (not your complete email address). Making those two modifications fixed the outgoing mail for me.

Once you're connected, you'll notice there is a Gmail folder, which is expandable, followed by a folder for each of your labels. Before you start using Apple Mail with your Gmail Account, you'll want to click on some of the Gmail folders and tell Apple Mail to use them for its special folders. Expand the Gmail folder and select the Drafts folder. Then choose "Use this mailbox For" from the "Mailbox" menu and select "Drafts". Now, your drafts will be saved in the Gmail drafts folder instead of having Apple Mail create a new folder "label" for drafts. You'll want to repeat this process for the Spam (Use as Junk), Sent, and Trash folders.

Now that you're all set up, you can enjoy the full benefit of your gmail account with OS X integration for contacts, todo items and notes. Dragging a message to a folder is the same as applying a label to it. Dragging a message from a folder or from the inbox to the "All Mail" folder is the same as removing all the labels from the message and archiving it.

There are a couple of things I haven't figure out:

  1. I have some mail aliases on my Gmail account. I haven't figured out yet how to set those up on the Apple Mail side.
    Update: Solution from the comments.
  2. I haven't worked on a solution for applying multiple labels to a message.
    Update: I figured this out.

Other than those two items, Apple Mail and Gmail work quite well together and I'm pretty satisfied with non-intrusive access Gmail provides through Imap. My Gmail account can continue to function as I'd expect away from my iMac and Apple Mail has access to most Gmails features with the addition of being able to integrate mail with the rest of the OS X office features.

6 Responses to “Configuring Apple Mail 3.0 (Leopard) to use Imap with Gmail”


  1. Dennis

    I made a new post that tells how I figured out how to apply multiple labels to a message here.

  2. Vince

    I’ve done all the settings right according to everything I’ve read, but I still can’t send using gmail’s outgoing server on Mail 3.0

  3. Dennis

    Something I didn’t include in my post, the outgoing server port is 587 and you have to have the ssl option checked. Other than that, I have it as I described above and it is working. You might want to make sure the box for “Use only this account” is checked on your account settings for the gmail smtp server in case you happen to have more than one mail account.

  4. jackslash

    To set up email aliases in apple mail, in the accounts preferences screen on the account information tab in the box email address type a comma delimited list of all your email aliases. e.g. :

    email1@domain.com, email2@domain.com

    then the different addresses can be selected from a drop down list in all new emails and mail automatically replies with the right email address

  5. Dennis

    Excellent!

  6. Joe

    Excellent, that’s exactly what I was looking for, thanks Dennis!

    I was getting annoyed with the fact that any mail I deleted in Apple Mail would just get labelled “Deleted Items (Gmail)” in Gmail. Use This Mailbox For is ace!!

    Now I just need to try and sort out the same thing for Outlook at work… Wish me luck šŸ˜‰



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