Looking for a simple way to download emails from Gmail? Find out here how to enable POP access in Gmail settings and allow email programs as well as services (say, for creating backups) to retrieve emails from your account.

First, If You Have a Table, Do This:

place a thick, big tablecloth over it, then put a smoldering charcoal’s grill underneath (or, perhaps, a steaming pot of chicken broth).

You have just built yourself a traditional “kotatsu“, the Japanese table, heating, bed and blanket combination now typically fired with electricity, of course. Find one at Amazon.

Want to build yourself a traditional POP email account as well? Underneath the kotatsu or on it, do this (if you have Gmail):

How to Enable POP in Gmail Settings

Time needed: 5 minutes.

To turn on POP access for your Gmail account so you can download emails in a simple manner to any email (or email backup) program:

  1. Open your Gmail account in a  desktop browser.

  2. Click the Settings gear icon (⚙) near Gmail’s top right corner.

  3. Select Settings from the menu that has shown.

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

  5. Under POP Download:, select Enable POP for all mail or Enable POP for mail that arrives from now on.

    Note: If POP access is already available for the account, nothing will be selected initially, and POP is enabled will appear under Status:.
    Tip: Even if you select Enable POP for all mail, your email program will not download thousands of emails at once (starting with the oldest to boot); see below for more information.

  6. Optionally, choose what should happen in your account with email messages downloaded via POP (the copy downloaded to the email program is always managed only in the email program) under 
    When messages are accessed with POP.

    Note: See below for explanations of the possible options.

  7. Click Save Changes.

Now, you can set up your email program to access your account via POP using the correct Gmail POP3 settings.

Note: Gmail IMAP Access provides an alternative that lets you use existing Gmail folders and labels in your email program.

How to Enable POP in Gmail Settings: FAQ

What do the settings for Gmail’s copy after POP download mean?

  • keep Gmail’s copy in the inbox: at Gmail in your browser or any other email program connecting to it using IMAP, everything will be as if you had never downloaded emails via POP; every email will be unread and in your Inbox (unless, of course, a Gmail filter has moved it elsewhere).
    • Use this if you do access Gmail primarily via the web or IMAP email programs and solely download through POP for backup or occasional access.
  • mark Gmail’s copy as read: emails downloaded via POP to an email program will be marked read in Gmail on the web as well as in all email programs connecting to Gmail via IMAP; the messages will be in the Gmail Inbox folder, though.
    • Use this to have your messages ready but not be bothered with unread marks in browser and IMAP clients; do rely on your POP email program’s unread count.
  • archive Gmail’s copy: messages downloaded through Gmail POP access will be marked read and moved to the Archive label (folder) in Gmail on the web and in email programs connected through IMAP; they are permanently available for search, and Gmail will serve primarily as an archive.
    • Use this if you use your POP email program primarily to access email and want to keep an easily searchable and available backup at Gmail on the web.
  • delete Gmail’s copy: all emails downloaded at least once through POP will be moved to the Trash folder in Gmail on the web and in email programs connected via IMAP; from that folder, they will be permanently deleted automatically after a certain period.
    • Use this if you use the POP email program to access, archive and back up your email without keeping permanent copies of your messages at Gmail.

I have thousands of emails in Gmail; will they all download at once?


If you turn on POP access for all emails (including messages already received), Gmail will serve them in batches. Your email program will only download a few messages at a time. Downloading the full archive of Gmail emails can take hours or days.

Will only my Gmail Inbox download via POP or all folders?

With Gmail POP3 access, all messages are downloaded, even if Gmail rules move them to specific folders.

An email program connected to Gmail through POP will receive copies of all messages received and sent via the web interface.

If my email program is set up to delete emails after downloading, will messages be deleted from Gmail?


Gmail will ignore this command sent by the email program. For what happens to messages after they have been downloaded via POP, see above.

(How to enable Gmail POP3 access tested with Gmail in a desktop browser; updated February 2018; title image: StockUnlimited)