How to add a G Suite account on iOS or iPadOS

As Google ends support for less secure apps in mid-2020, you may need to remove, then re-add your G Suite account on iOS devices.

Photo of finger about to tap "Google" on an iPhone screen (in the iOS "Add Account" sequence)

Image: Andy Wolber / TechRepublic

Google has announced that support for "less secure apps," which require only a username and password for access, will end February 15, 2021. As a result of the change, people may need to attend to G Suite accounts not only on iOS and iPadOS devices, but also in Mail on macOS, in versions of Outlook (2016 and earlier), as well as any other app that lacks OAuth access (Google's blog post provides more details).

This change means that people who use an iPhone or iPad may need to take action to maintain access to G Suite account data on their devices. One option would be to install the Gmail or Google Calendar mobile apps, which already offer secure authenticated access. Alternatively, people who use an iPad that runs iOS 13 (or newer) might choose to access all G Suite data from within Safari. The desktop-class features in Safari let you use Gmail, Google Calendar—as well as many other G Suite apps—within the native iPad browser.

SEE: How to use G Suite apps in Safari on iPadOS (TechRepublic)

However, if you signed in with G Suite and use CalDAV, CardDAV, IMAP, or Google Sync, you'll want to go through the processes described below to remove and then re-add your G Suite account(s) to your device. When you sign in with your G Suite account as described below, you may use Apple's Mail, Calendar, or Contacts apps with your G Suite account data.

How to remove a G Suite account from an iPhone or iPad

  1. Tap the Settings app to open it.
  2. Scroll down, then tap Passwords & Accounts.
  3. Tap the account you want to remove. After you tap, the system will display the email address associated with the account, as well as the sliders that indicate sync status (i.e., Mail, Contacts, Calendars, Notes).
  4. Review that the email address displayed matches the email address of the account you wish to remove from your device. If it does, tap Delete Account, then confirm that you wish to remove the account with another tap (e.g., tap Delete From My iPad or Delete From My iPhone) (Figure A).

Figure A

Three iPhone screenshots: (left) Arrow pointing to Gmail account, (middle) Email address circled, with arrow pointing to Delete Account, (right) Confirmation screen shows arrow pointing to "Delete from My iPhone" option.

As you remove an account from an iOS (or iPadOS) device, verify that the account email address matches the account you wish to remove.

5. Wait as the system removes your account data from your iPhone or iPad. 

Repeat the process to remove multiple accounts, if necessary. For example, some people may have separate CardDAV, CalDAV, and IMAP accounts on iOS (or iPadOS) configured for Contacts, Calendars, and Mail, respectively.

How to add a G Suite account on an iPhone or iPad

  1. Tap to open the Settings app.
  2. Scroll down, then tap Passwords & Accounts.
  3. Tap Add Account. 
  4. Tap Google. 
  5. The system will display: Settings Wants To Use To Sign In. This allows the app and website to share information about you. Tap Continue.
  6. Enter your G Suite email address in the Google Account Sign in screen, then tap Next (Figure B).

Figure B

Three iPhone screenshots: (left) Add account options, with Google circled, (middle) Notice that Settings wants to use to Sign In with Continue option displayed, (right) Google account Sign in screen, with box for email address.

When you add an account on an iOS (or iPadOS) device, choose Google, tap Continue, then enter your G Suite email account and tap Next as part of the sign in process.

7. Enter your G Suite account password, then tap Next. If prompted, approve access with an additional authentication method, such as Google Authenticator, a security key, or Google Smart Lock, among others. In some cases, a G Suite administrator may need to allow access when you sign in on a new device.
8. Review the settings for Mail, Contacts, Calendars, and Notes. Enable the slider for each app to sync data to the device, then tap Save.
9. Wait as the system syncs your selected account data to your device. This can take some time, so you may want to remain in a location where your device has access to a fast internet connection during the initial sync.
10. Optionally, you may want to review iOS system settings after you've added your G Suite account to your device. When you have more than one account configured on your iPhone or iPad, you may select which account serves as your default account for Mail, Calendar, or Contacts:

  • Settings | Mail | Default Account, then select default account for email
  • Settings | Contacts | Default Account, then select default account for contacts
  • Settings | Calendar | Default Calendar, then select default account for events (Figure C)

Figure C

Three screenshots: (left) Settings > Contacts circled, (middle) red arrow pointing to Default Account option, (right) iCloud and Gmail options displayed, with Gmail option selected.

After you add an account to your iOS (or iPadOS) device, you may want to adjust the default account settings for Mail, Calendar, Contacts, and Notes. As shown in the above example for Contacts: In Settings, tap the app, then adjust the Default Account setting to Gmail.

For example, you can configure Contact app settings to ensure that when you add a new contact, the system adds it to your G Suite account, rather than your iCloud account, by default. Note: In some cases, if you only have one account enabled for a service, the Default Account option will not display.

Your experience?

Have you upgraded from a CalDAV, CardDAV, IMAP, or Exchange Sync (Google Sync) connection to a standard Google account sign in on an iOS device? How did the process go for you? If you're a G Suite administrator, what steps have you taken to move from "less secure app" sign ins to more secure methods? Let me know your thoughts and experiences about this change, either in the comments below or on Twitter (@awolber).

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