Software

How do I add an IMAP Google connection to Microsoft Outlook 2010?

It is possible to use Outlook 2010 as your email client for Google Mail using the IMAP protocol, but it takes a good bit of configuration.

Large, medium, and small businesses alike are seeking ways to cut information technology infrastructure costs. One of the increasingly more common ways is to migrate away from a self-maintained Microsoft Exchange Server to a cloud-computing-based solution like Google Mail. However, many users will continue to prefer to use Microsoft Outlook as their email client and not the Web-based interface common to Gmail users. (I am squarely in that camp.)

Those users can continue to use Outlook as their email client if they set up their enterprise Gmail email account using Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP). Having recently done this myself, I can tell you there are more than a few tricky spots to navigate through during setup. Here are the steps I used to make it work for me.

This blog post is also available as a TechRepublic Photo Gallery and TechRepublic Download.

Gmail preparation

Before we get to Outlook, you should first make sure you have enabled the IMAP protocol for your Google account. From the Gmail Inbox, (Figure A) click the Settings link in the upper right-hand corner of the page.

Figure A

Google Inbox
On the Settings page, click the Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab as shown in Figure B. Click the Enable IMAP radio button and Save the changes.

Figure B

Enable IMAP

Outlook 2010

I am using Microsoft Outlook 2010 for this How do I document, but the steps are very similar for Outlook 2007.

Open Outlook and click on the File button in the upper left-hand corner. (Figure C)

Figure C

Click the File button
Click the Account Settings button and then click the Account Settings menu item (Figure D) to get to the Account Settings summary screen shown in Figure E. As you can see, the summary screen is where you can see entries for all the potential servers your installation of Outlook could be accessing.

Figure D

Account Settings

Figure E

Account Settings summary screen
We are interested in the Email tab. Click the New button to start the set up wizard. The Add New Account entry screen is deceptively simple (Figure F). Fill in the text to match your particular account configuration. If you are in an enterprise situation, your email will refer to your domain name - for example, XXX@cbsinteractive.com. Make sure to click the "Manually configure server settings or additional server types" radio button BEFORE you click Next.

Figure F

Enter your account data
The next screen will ask you to choose a server (Figure G). Choose the Internet E-mail radio button because we are going to use the IMAP protocol.

Figure G

Choose Internet E-mail for IMAP
On the Internet E-mail Settings screen (Figure H) you have several data points to enter and/or adjust. First, change the POP3 setting to IMAP. For Incoming mail server, add imap.gmail.com and for Outgoing mail server, add smtp.gmail.com. The user name should be your email address, which in an enterprise environment will not likely be gmail.com.

Figure H

Enter in your account information

Single sign-on

The last password box can be tricky.

If you are using IMAP to connect Outlook to a personal Gmail account, you will use your normal Gmail password. However, if you are connecting to an enterprise that is using Google Mail as its email server, you may have to enter a special password. This is called the single sign-on password.

The SSO password is randomly generated via an encryption protocol and its creation is controlled by your network/email administrator. The password is associated with your enterprise configuration and how you acquire it will vary. In the case of CBS Interactive, I navigated to a specific URL and a password was generated.

By the way, the single sign-on password is also important for connecting mobile devices to the Gmail server. If you want to get your enterprise email on your smartphone, tablet PC, or other mobile computing device, you will likely need a single sign-on password.

TechRepublic's Microsoft Office Suite newsletter, delivered every Wednesday, is designed to help your users get the most from Word, Excel, and Access. Automatically sign up today!

Additional settings

In our example, before you click Next, click the More Settings button, which will take you to an additional entry screen as shown in Figure I.

Figure I

Additional information is required
First, click the Outgoing Server tab and click the checkbox for "My outgoing server (SMTP) requires authentication" and click the radio button for "Use the same settings as my incoming mail server." (Figure J)

Figure J

Click for outgoing authentication
Next, click the advanced tab, as shown in Figure K, where you will have to enter some port and additional protocol information.

Figure K

Additional port and protocol information

Change the Incoming server port to 993 and the associated encryption protocol to SSL. Change the Outgoing server port to 587 and the associated encryption protocol to TLS. Click OK, which should you take you back to the Settings entry screen shown in Figure F. (Note: This information is also available in the Google help files.)

Click Next button to test your account connections. If your test fails, check to make sure you have no typos and that your port numbers are correct. Once you have set everything up correctly, you will see results like the ones shown in Figures L and M. Click Finish to close the process.

Figure L

Success

Figure M

Click Finish

A familiar client

Outlook is now available as your Google Mail client. From the user's perspective, using Google as an email server is very similar to using an Exchange Server. And with the IMAP protocol properly configured, just about whatever you do in the Inbox in Outlook will be replicated in the inbox on Google.

About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

10 comments
macsween
macsween

anyone know anyway to get google apps to work at the same time as having an exchange server? (one personel account, one business) using the twin accounts feature in 2010 its been driving me up the wall!

petchem
petchem

The detailed instructions for this have been already given in gmail-Settings>configuration instructions.The info. in this article is not new at all!!

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Are you currently using IMAP in Outlook for Google Mail? How does it work for you?

mbrandon
mbrandon

... the information on **WHAT** (oddball ports / ssl / tls) is required to be set, the Google article doesn't tell you where those settings are buried in Outlook Imap setup - so this is still a useful resource.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

... the instructions have never been published in the TechRepublic Office Blog before. There is no claim that is is newly discovered.

N4AOF
N4AOF

Personally I use SMTP/POP3 with GMail and it works well much of the time. There are however two problems that crop up occasionally. The nature of these problems leads me to believe that both problems are likely to impact IMAP users just as much as POP3 users. 1. Google has a so-called "security" so-called "feature" which is supposed to "protect" users against hacking by blocking suspicious activity. Part of this system considers it suspicious if you log in too frequently. As with most so-called "security features" you can't get anyone to talk about the parameters used, but I have found that if you set your email client to check your gmail at short intervals, it will sometimes cause Google to block your email access. I used to have Outlook checking all my email accounts every 10 minutes whenever it was running. About once a week it would run afoul of Google's misguided notion of being "suspicious." I changed the setting to check for mail once each hour and I have not had THIS problem since then. 2. I have found that Google randomly drops the "enabled" setting mentioned at the beginning of this article. When this happens you have to log in to the Gmail website and repeat the process shown in the article to re-enable POP or IMAP. The really annoying thing about both these problems is that they do not consistently trigger an error message in outlook. The first problem will usually trigger the error message that your password was not accepted, but sometimes there is no error message. The second problem does not trigger any error message (at least not for POP3). Instead, all that happens is that your email client doesn't see any new emails for the account. So, if you are using an email client to manage your Gmail you need to be aware that sometimes Google will simply stop working. Neither problem is especially hard to fix (although the first does require wading through Google's captcha nonsense and resetting your password).

barnesc
barnesc

In one word - SLOW. Outlook 2010 is much better than previous versions of Outlook when it comes to IMAP client functionality. But it is still slow at times especially when downloading larger messages. Additionally, there is no Calendar and Contact Sync. Users have become so used to and expect full sync of their data. Not sure if IMAP will survive in the future. For example, all the major mobile phone operating systems now support Exchange Sync.

dapstr
dapstr

If you're going with Google Apps as an enterprise I think Outlook Connector is a much better choice since it let you use Outlook with Apps like with an Exchange server.

cavehomme1
cavehomme1

I agree with your experiences. I used imap for both gmail and company account hosted on gmail with Outlook 2003 and it was OK but a bit slow, however there were many stability issues of Office 2003 on Windows 7 which forced me an upgrade to Office 2010. Outlook 2010 functionality is much better overall than 2003 but IMAP is much slower. Yes it can be configured to work offline, but then that gives problems when moving emails to different folders, etc. My solution was to use POP and work locally. Then when travelling i use my phone to connect to gmail imap to check latest emails before i can fully connect and download on to my laptop with POP...of course i keep all emails on server, and Gmail is very good in this respect to allow both imap and pop to co-exist on the same account. I also use connector for 1 live.com account, and it is much quicker, but we do not want to migrate all our accounts to be hosted by MS office / live just now, it is too much work versus benefit and we have other priorities at the moment.

seanferd
seanferd

if that additional code is not really necessary for anything else. But it certainly is an option for those who do use an Outlook Connector!

Editor's Picks