Use Gmail IMAP with your desktop e-mail client

Unless a single PC provides your only interaction with Gmail, you'll be happier using an IMAP configuration instead of POP

Working with Gmail can be a lot nicer if you use a desktop e-mail program instead of Gmail's Web-based interface.

A key question that remains is whether to use the POP or IMAP setting to fetch your messages from your Gmail account.

I won't bore you with lengthy descriptions of each. In a nutshell, POP downloads a copy of each e-mail to your PC, leaving the original on Gmail's servers. It's a one-way transaction. IMAP, on the other hand, provides a live, two-way connection between your mail program and Gmail.

Why is that important? Basically, because it effectively keeps all your mail in sync regardless of where you check it--important if you routinely use, say, a second PC or a smartphone.

Let's use the latter as an example. Say you have your Gmail account configured for POP. Using your desktop mail program, you download and read your latest messages, reply to a few, delete others, etc.

A while later, while out and about, you use your phone to check your messages. Every mail that you previously read, replied to, deleted, etc. shows up as new and unread. Why? Because there was no synchronization between your PC and Gmail. Thanks to POP, your phone did exactly what your computer did: downloaded any mail that arrived since the last time you checked and flagged it all as new.

That's why I'm a big fan of IMAP. It keeps all my Gmail in sync wherever I go and on whatever computer or device I use to access it. You can learn more about Gmail IMAP from Google's help pages.

Ready to give it a try? Here's how:

1. Log in to your Gmail account, then click the Settings link at the top.

2. Click the Forwarding and POP/IMAP link, select Enable IMAP, and then click Save Changes.

3. Click the Configuration Instructions link to learn how to set up your e-mail client to access Gmail via IMAP. (You'll need to make a couple small changes if it's already configured for POP.)

Now you're using Gmail like a power user. Congrats!

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Gmailemail

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Rick Broida

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?