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

Cool Tech

Crucial® BX200 SATA 2.5” 7mm (with 9.5mm adapter) Internal Solid State Drive

Learn more >

D-Link PowerLine AV2 2000 Gigabit Network Kit

Learn more >

D-Link TAIPAN AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi Modem Router (DSL-4320L)

Learn more >

ASUS ROG Swift PG279Q – Reign beyond virtual world

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >


Learn more >

Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC™/SDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

ASUS VivoPC VM62 - Incredibly Powerful, Unbelievably Small

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC™/SDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC™/SDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Best Deals on Good Gear Guide

Latest News Articles


GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy


First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni


For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell


The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi


The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott


My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.


Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?