How to Enable IMAP for Your Gmail Account

Enable IMAP in Gmail

Want Gmail emails and folders in your email program? Find out here how to enable IMAP access for your Gmail account and let services, programs, mobile devices and more connect to your messages and folders.

First, It Is Easier to Swim in the Arctic

It is easier to swim in the Arctic Ocean than it is to swim in tropical seas, but not by much.

This is because one factor contributing to buoyancy is the water’s temperature. Colder water is slightly denser and helps you float.

Want your Gmail emails to swim to your email programs, services, and mobile devices (on that trip to the Arctic)? First, enable IMAP access. Let’s get go… swimming:

How to Enable IMAP Access for Your Gmail Account

Time needed: 5 minutes

To turn on IMAP access for Gmail so you can set up your account in any IMAP email program (with seamless access to all your labels as folders):

  1. Open Gmail in a desktop browser.

    Mobile browser: You can visit the desktop version of Gmail in mobile browsers as well.

  2. Click the Settings gear icon () near the top right corner.

  3. Select See all settings from the menu that has appeared.

  4. Go to the Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab.

    Gmail shortcut: You can open Gmail forwarding and IMAP settings directly.

  5. Under IMAP Access:, select Enable IMAP.

    IMAP options: See Gmail IMAP settings for the options also available on this page.
    Under IMAP Access:, make sure "Enable IMAP" is selected

  6. Click Save Changes.

Now, do set up your email account using the correct Gmail IMAP settings.

POP: As a simple alternative, Gmail also supports POP access, designed for simple download of incoming emails without synchronization.

How to Enable IMAP Access for Your Gmail Account: FAQ

Should I turn on IMAP access?


As a general rule, do not enable IMAP unless it is necessary for a specific application or service to connect though IMAP.

If the application or service can also connect through OAuth2, do use OAuth2 and disable IMAP access.

How many email programs and services can connect to Gmail at the same time?

After you have enabled IMAP, up to fifteen programs and services can connect concurrently. When that limit is reached, more connections are not possible and connection attempts will return an error.

Multiple Gmail IMAP connections: Email programs may establish more than one connection to Gmail, and each one is counted.

Can I enable both POP3 and IMAP?


If messages are marked read, archived, or deleted using Gmail POP3 settings, these actions will be reflected both in Gmail on the web and in IMAP email programs.

(How to enable IMAP access for your Gmail account tested with a desktop browser; first published December 2017, last updated March 2024)

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