What are Google Apps server settings?

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Virtually all email clients, such as Outlook, Mac Mail, Thunderbird, and others, use either POP or IMAP protocols to receive emails, and SMTP to send emails.

While you don't need to worry about these when viewing your email address using your browser, if you're looking to set up your email in an email client such as those mentioned, you will need several details to input into your mail client's settings.



Common Settings


Many Mail clients will ask you to set a description for the account.

This can be anything - it just helps you identify the account.

What you put here is what is shown alongside your email address in other's inboxes.

This may be the name of yourself, your department or your business.

The username is simply your email address, eg, user@example.com
Password Your password.

IMAP + SMTP Settings

Incoming Server imap.gmail.com
Incoming Port 993
Use SSL Yes (SSL, Required)
Outgoing Server smtp.gmail.com
Outgoing Port 587
Use SSL Yes (TLS, Required)
Use Authentication

Required - Same username & password as incoming server.

POP + SMTP Settings

Incoming Server pop.gmail.com
Incoming Port 995
Use SSL Yes (SSL, Required)
Outgoing Server smtp.gmail.com
Outgoing Port 587
Use SSL Yes (TLS, Required)
Use Authentication

Required - Same username & password as incoming server.



Enabling POP/IMAP Access

In order to use POP or IMAP, you must also first enable POP / IMAP access.

To do this:

  1. Login to your Google Apps account, and access the Mail app.

  2. Click on the gear icon on the top right, and click Settings.

  3. Click on the Forwarding and POP/IMAP link

  4. Enable POP or IMAP access as desired, as well as any related settings.

  5. Click the Save Changes button at the bottom of the page to apply the settings.

POP vs IMAP: Which do I use?

Short answer? IMAP.

It has many advantages over POP: It works better, it's more predictable, it keeps multiple devices in sync, and more, making it the appropriate choice for 99% of people. The only disadvantage to IMAP is that it requires a lot of space on the server - which is the exact reason why Google Apps gives you so much of it - nullifying this point so that you may leverage IMAP to its full potential. In fact, the large amount of storage is the core technical feature of Google Apps.

In the modern day, POP is better suited to more "special case" scenarios where a particular email address is being used in a particular way - for example, where an email account is processed by software or a cloud service, rather than acting as an inbox for an individual. For the most part, POP exists purely for legacy reasons.


  • If an account is already setup in your mail software, you cannot simply change from one to the other, as the way they work is radically different. You must remove and re-add the account. Doing so may delete emails, so always make sure that you have a backup.

  • Avoid setting one device up using POP, and another with IMAP. Better yet, don't do it, ever. Each handle mail in a different way, and they will conflict with eachother. Choose just one protocol, and use it everywhere.


Enabling Less Secure Apps

Google Apps may prevent particular mail clients from connecting. You may receive an error, or your mail client may ask you for your username and password again, even if it was entered correctly the first time.

This is because Google Apps enforces a security policy that disallows mail clients from connecting in a particular way. Some mail clients are not compatible with the connection methods mandated by these policies. If you like, you may enable support for these apps, making Google Apps relax these policies, thus allowing those applications or devices to connect.

Please see this article for instructions on how to how to configure this setting.


  • Some outgoing mail servers (Often those belonging to your ISP) don't require a username and password. Others do - Google Apps falls into the latter category.

    As such, you need to put your username and password in twice - once for the Incoming server (POP/IMAP), and again for the Outgoing (SMTP) server.

    Even though the mail client may say it is optional, you must fill these details in (Unless you don't intend on sending any email!).

  • Some mail clients, such as Thunderbird and Mac Mail in particular, will segregate the Incoming Settings and Outgoing Settings into different areas. 

    These mail clients will let you use a single Outgoing server for multiple Incoming accounts, or have multiple Outgoing servers for any given Incoming server. It is not recommended to set things up in such a way as it can create confusion, cause delivery problems and errors, be difficult to setup/maintain, and may make emails not send from the intended email address.

    Instead, it is wise to create 'pairs', so that every Incoming server in one place, has a single corresponding Outgoing server in the other.
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