Setting up Apple Mail to Rock and Roll with Gmail

Tutorial for getting Mac Mail to play nice with Gmail.

50 responses

  1. Renee Sharelle

    I believe that this has been the most useful tutorial for getting Gmail and Mail to mesh nicely. Pretty much everything else I’ve read is either too involved, or assumes that you know a lot more about how things are made.

    This makes my email headache ease away into blissful nirvana.

    If only there was a way to sync Reminders & Google Tasks! *dreams*

  2. Potiguar

    On minor glitch I noticed in my setup is, when I move mail from my inbox directly to a folder (which is an GMail custom label) in Apple Mail, in other words, “archiving” it in a specific folder, it does not remove the inbox label. Is this the expected behaviour?

    BTW, thanks a lot for this tutorial. I still find my self coming to this page from time to time.

    1. Potiguar

      Actually, nevermind. I think this was just a problem with Mail not synchronising often enough with GMail’s server. Eventually the tag was indeed removed.

    2. Nick

      Did this disappear on its own? I have tried this and I still have mails in the Inbox, marked read, and bearing the label [Gmail]/Archive, 12 hours after setting it up.

      1. Andrew

        Yep, me too. It’s easy enough to go to the [Gmail]/Archive label in the web client and archive all, but then there’s my phone… Any fixes anyone?

  3. Carley Knobloch

    I talk tech all day long, and help countless people set up their email. I’m a devout gmail user but use it all online… have never set it up in Apple mail.

    My dad’s set up was so messed up, with local email and outlook and gmail, and and and and… i’ve been sleepless for weeks and he’s been straddling systems, storing emails all over the place. It’s been a mess, and when I tried to set him up in Apple Mail, even I couldn’t explain all the weird duplicate folders with strange names, and why stuff was going where.

    I followed your advice to the letter and everything works perfectly now. I’d love for you to update this to Apple Mail 6.3, because there’s so little documentation that’s up to date, and you explained things so flawlessly.

    In other words, I like you a lot right now. :)


    1. Jonathan

      Yes I would love an update too! Thanks so much for this so far.

      Also would love to know about the equivalent setup on iOS devices to get them rock and rolling in sync too!


  4. Terence Whaley

    Very clear, informative, easy to follow, useful instructions.

    Thank you!

  5. Cirrincione

    After 8 hours of intensive fight with 20 000 emailsescaping from trash over and over, you made my day. Thxs!!

  6. Mike Eddie

    Thanks for the great tutorial.

    I cant seem to get the drafts, sent mail, and trash folders to show up, despite checking the Show in Imap box.

    Any ideas?

    Thanks a lot.


  7. Nick

    This is a great tutorial and effectively solves the Gmail trash issue – the first time I have seen it truly resolved!

    I also noted what one of the others did above: when I archive a Gmail message using Apple Mail’s Archive button, the message remains inside the Gmail Web client Inbox, and bears a [Gmail]/Archive label. It is 12+ hours and they remain. One annoying way to work around this would be to make your own archive folder, calling it something else, and then drag messages to it.

    Thanks for taking the time to put out something quite helpful!

  8. mike

    i’m using apple mail 5.3, when i add the [Gmail] imap path prefix, and then save, mail stops responding.

    any suggestions?

  9. Dave

    What a great help. The only problem I had is that I started using gmail several months ago. Now that I have changed things using your suggestion my old mail folders do not have any of the mail from the last several months and won’t seem to sync to update to the new gmail folders. I changed the imail prefix back and go all my gmail folders in mail again but would love to follow your procedure but need to get my current messages back in my folders.

    Any suggestions? help?

  10. Andrés Roberto Rojas

    This worked great! Thanks for your advice. This is very useful for me since I use Mail on my Mac and on my iPod Touch more than the Gmail interface and I got this problem for a long time. It also worked great on my iPod.

  11. Peter

    This. Guide. Is. Simply. Outstanding!
    ~ Thank you very much for writing and illustrating such an excellent How To guide. It answers sooo many questions and simplifies what countless other articles within Google’s or Apple’s support pages fail to communicate. Your guide is a real gem and I thank you very much for taking the significant amount of time and care to produce this unparalleled work. You’ve brought peace and order to the Mad Hatter’s spaghetti that is Gmail and Apple Mail. Mahalo :-)

  12. Jennifer Willis

    Thank you! I’d been looking for a way to get my All Mail folder under control—specifically, to be able to hit “Delete” and have it actually mean something. Your directions were clear and effective. I am in your debt. :)

  13. Yaoosh

    This was VERY helpful.
    ….The key here is “last visible IMAP folder.” – Brilliant.

    Thanks so much. I feel that my Apple Mail and Gmail are finally playing nice.

  14. HB works ! has bothered me for 2years even asked apple genius but they had no glad I found your instructions so easy.
    Many many thanks

  15. Joe

    My wife and I have used gmail for over a year. She uses only with Macmail client on her macbook pro. I was using on Outlook Express then Outlook. I have just purchased an iMac due to a desire to sync all easily through iCloud. This will require my purchasing some new CAD, financial and Office software too.
    I had in Outlook and Outlook express used folders, but no syncing with Gmail. Both my wife and I have iPhones and without the syncing, e-mail on the phones is nothing short of a mess.
    After following your instructions, Macmail on my iMac appears just as I wish. Thank you so much : ) !

    Any chance you have same advice/instructions for setting up iPhone to appear the same?

  16. Tom R.

    Your instructions worked beautifully when I set up Gmail with Apple Mail on my home iMac. I followed the instructions to set up Gmail with Mail on my MacBook Pro, and now when I delete a message on my MacBook, the deleted message is assigned the label of “[Gmail]/[Gmail]/Trash”, and does not get moved to the Trash in Gmail. I will try redoing the setup, but it is sort of odd.


  17. Jennifer P

    You are amazing. Thank you so much. Being so OCD about certain things, I hated how I would delete things only to have it all store into this dumb “All Mail” folder months and months later. Thank you so so much.

  18. Richard B

    This is a great article, I have been struggling with resolving Gmail archiving and subfolders when accessed as an IMAP client from Mac Mail and Entourage/Outlook. Finally I am now getting a handle on it thanks to this article.
    Thanks very much.

  19. Beto

    This was a fantastic tutorial. The main thing that no one else has explained in other sites was how to put in the [Gmail] for IMAP Path Prefix and it was what was driving me crazy having those ugly folders showing up.
    On that note, I have another thing to stump you with (or hopefully not stump you!). I started using the Mailbox app on my iPhone. The app adds its own set of folders Later, To Read, To Watch, etc. and you can create your own within the app. Anyways, it puts these under another [Mailbox] path prefix, which does NOT show up in Apple mail. If I switch the IMAP Path Prefix to [Mailbox] in the Apple mail settings, then I lose the other custom folders I created. One solution I thought of but haven’t tried is to move the other custom folders under the [Mailbox] IMAP Path Prefix and then have everything under that. Thoughts?

  20. amar

    So, it practically means I’ll have to live with [Gmail]/my-custom-label-name” in Gmail web client to remove that “[Gmail]/” from Apple Mail, right?

  21. Raphaële

    Thank you so much, you are the only one who explain clearly how to make the things… I’m french so excuse my english… and hurrah Rock N’ Roll !

  22. Randy

    For years I have struggled with this issue. Read every article I could find on Gmail settings with Apple Mail. No matter how I set it up, the All Mail folder was my nemesis. Always full of everything I’d deleted. Always mocking me.

    Whenever I asked on forums for help, the typical responses were either 1) if you don’t like it, use another program or 2) as long as you haven’t run out of space, what’s the big deal?

    Like so many others, when I delete an email, I want it deleted. Permanently. Especially all the daily facebook notifications. Why would anyone want to keep those?

    I followed your instructions and only time will tell if this actually works, but I’m hopeful as your instructions and bouncing ball instructions are the best I’ve seen yet on this issue. I still can’t quite wrap my head around why you would select ‘Never’ for deleting emails, etc. That seems counterintuitive to me. Perhaps that’s why I’ve never been able to get this to work right.

    Like all the others, I’m very grateful and appreciative. And like everyone else, I’d like to see this updated for Mail 6.6! Thanks!

  23. Matthias

    Thanks for the solution!
    If you have an older German Gmail account, the IMAP Prefix must be [Google Mail].

  24. Torben

    Great info – but I found an issue with the Apple Mail archive action that can get your mail client and gmail out of sync!

    When a mail is archived in Apple Mail (moved to the Archive folder) the label [imap]/Archive is assigned to the mail in Gmail. So far so good. But if you MOVE the archived mail back to your inbox in Apple Mail (if you regret and undo your archive action) the [imap]/Archive label is NOT removed again in Gmail. So your Apple Mail client and Gmail gets out of sync. This is not good! One workaround is to delete the mail from the archive folder instead of moving it and then moving the mail from trash to the inbox. This way the [imap]/Archive label is deleted from the mail in Gmail.

    Does anyone know of solution to this issue?

  25. Andrew

    Mavericks is wreaking havoc on my Google-hosted (my email. Any thoughts on some tweaks to the settings of each and Gmail so they play nice?

    1. Jeff Schuette

      I have a new post with instructions for updating Mail in Mavericks.

  26. Alex

    I’m still running Snow Leopard on an old 1.66 Mac mini at home for family email etc & have just discovered that all the spam was building up in the weird All Mail box… Your instructions were great & did the trick.

    Will check out the Mavericks page too – just upgraded to that on my MacbookAir

  27. Mark Busse

    I should’ve written this email to you a year ago when I first found this article as it’s really helped me get my Gmail email accounts under control. Thank you Jeff.

    Hey, one question for you: when I use the search bar in Mac Mail to find an email (as I commonly do), and All is selected, I often see many multiples of drafts, and trashed messages that seem to be automatically created when I leave partially composed messages open. Any idea why or how I can perhaps reduce or eliminate that?

  28. Merry

    HELP: Can you let me know what settings will show my gmails as UN-READ until I read them in AppleMail?

    Suddenly, all the gmails appear as already-read. I assume there are gmail or Maverick settings I might try to change.


  29. Bill

    Very informative tut, thank you for doing the work on this.

    I have an issue where the Gmail folder in Mail still exists after following these instructions.

    Most inconvenient is the fact that Mail sent from the computer stays on the top set of Mailboxes in the Sent folder. Mail sent from my iPhone goes to the Gmail section at the bottom to a folder called Sent Mail.

    Is there a way to unify all sent mail into one folder, preferably the one in the top section?

    Thanks, Bill

  30. Bill

    I should have also said in my above comment that I am using Mail 6.6 in OS 10.8.5.

    Thanks for any ideas that may be coming!


  31. Kelly

    I’m having trouble…I got to Step 2. Assign mailbox functions and when I go to click on “Use this mailbox for” all of the options are greyed out (trash, sent, draft, junk). Any idea why?

  32. fairladyorchid

    Even after a couple years this article is still rocking. Thank you so much, I was losing my mind and I happen to be one of those people who find use in all hardware and apps and it is so nice to have them getting along.

  33. Julie

    I’m not having any luck with adding the [Gmail] into the IMAP Path Prefix. When I go to save the changes it causes my Mail to stop responding and I have to Force Quit. Any suggestions? ~Julie

  34. Mike

    After following your tutorial, I find that mail that I deleted in apple mail still remains in my all mail folder on gmail. Is there a way to delete an email in the all mail folder on gmail via apple mail?

  35. JoAnn

    OMG FINALLY!!! Thank you for helping me getting rid of Archive. It’s been annoying me for a long time. Brilliant. Took some doing the first time through, but then just sailed through the 4 other accounts I have set up on Gmail. My computer thanks you too. It can breath again.

  36. Fabrizio Bartolomucci

    Once I followed the instructions the label appeared in mail, but no message got associated to them and, what is worse, if I move any message in one of the folder in Mail, it removes the label to all messages with that label even on Gmail in practice losing the reference of all of them. How do I fix it before screwing up all my my mail archive?

  37. tarita virtue

    THANK you SO much Jeff Schuette for providing this incredibly easy to follow set of instructions on your website! i was in “All Mail / Gmail Auto Archiving” HELL FOR MONTHS! thankfully your link was offered as a solution on the Apple Forum and has been a TRUE BLESSING! you are a true computer genius and your kindness is sincerely appreciated by me! Wishing you all the best!

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