Feb 08

Gmail seems to be the main email provider and no wonder – it is free and it has the best spam filtering and protection. But the Gmail web interface is a bit clunky so it is nice to be able to use Gmail with the built in Apple mail program. Here’s how to set up Apple mail to work with Gmail.

1.  Make sure you have a Gmail account.

You need to know your Gmail address (e.g. wayne@gmail.com) and password  because you will need to enter them into Apple mail.  If you don’t have a Gmail account here is how to sign up

– Go to gmail.com and click on “Sign Up”

– Fill in the details – you’ll need to pick a gmail email address and a password.  After this is done you will get a verification page that says something like this at the bottom:

Gmail signup complete



2. Enter your Gmail address into Apple mail.

– Open Apple mail, and go to the “Mail’ menubar at the top of the screen and  then select  ‘Preferences’  from the menu.

Select preferences from the mail menu


– Select the ‘Accounts’ tab. From here  you can manage your mail accounts.

Accounts tab


– Press the ‘+’ button – this means add a new account.

Add a new account

You will be asked which email provider – select Google.

-You will be prompted for your Google login details:.



– You will be taken back to the Apple Mail preferences screen. There are some settings you should change here.

1. Click on the mailbox behaviours tab.

Mailbox behaviours tab


If there are problems in Apple mail with Gmail this is where they seem to be caused –  multiple drafts appearing, deleted emails reappearing etc.  It can take a bit of trial and error getting these settings right but these settings below have been working for me for over a year so this should give you a great head start. In these drop-down menus you will find a long list of folders. Some of them are folders in your Gmail account and some of them are folders on your home computer. Here are the setting I suggest:

My recommended settings for mailbox behaviours when using Gmail in Apple mail. Junk is the Gmali junk folder. The only local folder is ‘Drafts’.


Notes on Mailbox Behaviours

Select the  local ‘On My Mac’ Drafts folder not the Gmail Drafts folder. This  means that any drafts I begin to type on my home computer will not be available from my iOS devices. The other option is that you select the Gmail  ‘Drafts’ folder. The problem with this is Apple mail makes a backup copy of your email  every few minutes as you are typing it. If you select the Google drafts folder, all these draft emails  made by Apple mail get stored in your gmail Drafts folder and you end up multiple versions of the same mail message.

You need to select the [Gmail] /Sent Mail folder because Gmail automatically keeps a copy of your sent messages and puts them in its ‘send mail folder.’  This tells Apple mail where to find those sent emails.  You only need this option checked if your email provider doesn’t keep a copy of your sent emails automatically.

You don’t need to select a trash mailbox at all  because  Google automatically keeps a copy of your trashed mail. The “Trash” option is for email providers who don’t keep a copy of all your deleted emails. If  you select a mailbox here Apple mail it will save all your deleted items to this  trash folder in case you want to undo the delete. This will result in multiple copies of all your trashed emails because Google already keeps a copy.

You want the Google “junk” option ticked not the local On My Mac one because Gmail automatically takes care of junk mail –  you don’t want the Apple mail program deleting it.

– That’s it.

– You can close the preferences window. (Click save if it prompts you to save the new settings).

– There should be some welcome messages from Gmail waiting for you in your Apple mail.



On the left-hand side of your mail app there should be a little folder called [Gmail]  that looks like this:

Gmail folders


The All Mail  folder contains every mail you have sent or received and even the emails you have deleted.  This is where you go if you want to find an old email that you have deleted.

The drafts folder will be empty all the time because you are not storing your draft emails on the gmail server.

Sent mail will contain all the emails you have sent.

Trash will be empty. All your deleted emails are kept in the All Mail folder –  you don’t need another copy in the trash.

3 Responses to “How to set up Gmail in Apple Mail”

  1. Manuel says:


    in the article you say: “You want the Google “junk” option ticked not the local On My Mac”
    but in the picture the is selected the “On My Mac” junk folder

    Which one is correct?

  2. Manuel says:

    Moreover I had to select the Gmail/Trash folder, otherwise the mails were complitely removed without using the trash

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