How to setup Google Gmail on your iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad

How Google went iOS

As of January 30, 2013, Google will no longer allow new iPhones, iPod touches, iPads, or other devices to be setup using Google Sync (their implementation of Microsoft's excellent ActiveSync protocol). While existing Google Sync setups will keep working, the next time you want to add Gmail to a device, you'll have to use something else -- namely Google's eccentric IMAP service, which works with Apple's Mail app and allows for a unifed inbox with other, non-Gmail accounts, and the Gmail app, which is excellent but is a silo unto itself.

How to set up Gmail in Google's Gmail app

Google's Gmail app is outstanding, supporting both push email, multiple accounts, and all the unique Gmail features like stars and labels, of course. You even get easy access to vacation responders and other options. If you only use Gmail for your email, it's absolutely the best way to go. If you use multiple email providers, but don't mind accessing them via separate apps, it's also a great choice. Sadly, you can't set third party apps as default in iOS, so you'll probably need to set up your account in Apple's iOS Mail app as well, for convenience sake. (See below.)

  1. Download the Gmail app from the App Store.
  2. Tap Open once Gmail finishes downloading, or if you've left the App Store, tap the Gmail icon on your Home screen.
  3. Enter your Gmail or Google Apps email address and password.
  4. Tap sign in.

How to set up the Gmail app

How to setup Gmail in Apple's Mail app

Gmail is one of the main email setup options in Apple's built-in iOS Mail app. It uses IMAP to receive email, but due to Google's non-standard configuration, and Apple's lack of specific support for that non-standard configuration, you won't get push email, and you won't have access to stars, labels, and other Gmail-specific conventions. Sadly, it also doesn't automagically include contact sync, so you'll have to set that up separately.

You will, however, have your Gmail included in the unified inbox, which is incredibly convenient if you also have other, non-Google email accounts (like iCloud, Exchange, Hotmail, etc.)

  1. Launch Settings from your Home screen.
  2. Tap Mail, Contacts, Calendars.
  3. Tap Add Account...
  4. Tap Gmail.
  5. Enter your name, Gmail email address, password, and a descriptive name (like Gmail, or Personal, so you can identify it later).
  6. Select which services you want to leave on for sync, Mail, Calendars, and Notes. (You probably want all of them on.)
  7. Tap Save.

How to set up Gmail in iOS Mail

How to setup Gmail Contact Sync with CardDAV

To set up contacts sync, repeat the same procedure, with a slight change in settings.

  1. Tap Add Account... again.
  2. Tap Other at the bottom.
  3. Tap Add CardDAV Account
  4. Enter google.com as the server.
  5. Enter your Gmail/Google address as the user name.
  6. Enter your Gmail/Google password as the password.
  7. Enter a description. For example, Gmail Contacts or Google Contacts.
  8. Tap Next at the top right.

That's it, your contacts will now sync along with everything else.

How to set up Google Contact sync with CardDAV

How to set up Gmail's 2-step verification

If you're a high value target and worried about your Gmail security, you can also setup and use Gmail 2-step verification on your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad. For most people, it's probably more trouble than it's worth, but it's there for those who really need it.

Have something to say about this story? Share your comments below! Need help with something else? Submit your question!

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

How to setup Google Gmail on your iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad

26 Comments

correct me if im wrong. isn't it better to configure it as an exchange account instead of google's?

Trying to sync my gmail contacts with my new mini. I used the CardDav as instructed and some of them synced but not all of them. Any ideas?

Rene, I see early in the gmail app there is a built in option for the calendar. Will that sync from within the gmail app or would we need to follow along and add a Caldav account?

I agree with LuisPR, the best option is as an exchange account. You get full push through apples native mail app. The article should mention this

Although I do it this way as well, isn't this what will no longer be supported for new people after the end of the month?

Correct. You will no longer be able to set up as an exchange account as of Jan 30th, hence this tutorial!!

I'm not sure these are great alternatives. I'll probably be switching fully to outlook.com email. Or forwarding my gmail to outlook. For calendars and contracts, outlook.com might work better for me anyways.

Currently I'm using gmail (as exchange) and icloud calendar and contacts. But icloud's problems with Outlook (included with MS office) is driving me nuts. I like google's search though so I'd continue to use gmail in some form whether it's just a backup.

I'm forwarding my personal Gmail to iCloud, and it works great. My work Gmail is staying as Gmail, I just have it in both Mail and the Gmail app for different use cases. Sucks. I loved Google Sync.

Thats a great idea. My only worries would be iCloud's spam filtering and can you reply as your gmail address?

I've used google sync for ages, just had my iPad replaced via AppleCare and now can't set it up via exchange - I'm devastated as I hate having loads off apps that all essentially do the same - why add the hassle of a gmail app when it all used to be in 1 place.

The Gmail app looks nice, and handles labels properly, but I can't stand the way it forces you to manually download the entire message every time. That's a deal breaker for me.

You saoule mention Thatcher if one setup mail.app gmail usine IMAP manually (internet mail profile) and not the gmail profile, then flags will work and sync as stars. My step is to use the mail app that way, plus carddav and carddav. This gives me offline reading and other little advantages of the mail app. I use the gmail app to get push notification and manage labels. I find this combination optimal.

Using the gmail app for iPad, is there a way to view messages in full screen, rather than just 2/3 of it? Or increase the font size? I'm not that old, but text in some email messages in the app is too small.

I agree with both points and have been complaining about the font size since the app first came out. Oddly, if you click on REPLY you then see the message full screen...so it shouldn't be hard to view the message in full screen.

Greetings and thank you for all those tips on every possible sector!

I have 4 e-mails (2 Gmail and 2 Hotmail) which I have configured through Settings and can check from Apple's iOS Mail app. I downloaded the GmailApp which is simply awesome and I wish to check my 2 accounts from there instead of Apple's app.
Is it possible to check the gmail e-mails from there and the hotmails from the apple app, but without having to check my gmails twice?

Is there a way to have all the groups I created in my gmail contacts sync over to the iphone in the same groups as they appear ini my gmail contacts?

Apple is slowly becoming the next Blackberry. One more thing the iPhone can't do that android can. When it is time to upgrade phones and there isn't a decent gmail push option it will be time to move on.

Having said that I realize google is the one that made the changes. I just feel like I am back in the same spot I was in 2009 with bb trying to get my labels and such to work right!

This process requires SSL. When using my iPad on my secure home network it will not connect via SSL. Is there some change in settings required?

How do I get my event colors from my gmail calendar to show up on my iphone and ipad. I have done the CalDav and everything! Now I have so many sync's to contend with urggggg...help please :)