How to setup Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Contacts on your iPhone or iPad

How to setup Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Contacts on your iPhone or iPad

Google services like Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Contacts are incredibly popular and, what's more, are incredibly easy to setup on your iPhone or iPad. If you have a free Gmail account, you can set it up through the iOS Settings app and access it through the built-in Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Reminders, and Notes apps. You can also setup Gmail inside Google's own Gmail for iOS app. If you have a paid Google account, you can use either of those options, or you can use Google Sync, Google's implementation of Microsoft's ActiveSync service. (Sadly, Google discontinued ActiveSync support for free accounts in 2013).

How to setup Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Contacts in Settings

The iOS Settings app, Mail, Calendar, and Contacts section contains built-in support for Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Contacts, and related services. Under the hood, Apple is using the open standard IMAP, CalDAV, and CardDAV services to handle the syncing. Unfortunately, Gmail retro-fitted support for IMAP and it's quirky at times. However, if you want to use the built-in iOS Mail app and its unified inbox, and don't have a paid account, it's your only option.

  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's 2-step verification

If you're 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.

How to add a Gmail or Google apps account to your iPhone or iPad using an app-specific password

If you have a Gmail or Google apps account that has two-step verification enabled, the process of linking your account to your iPhone or iPad is slightly different, as you may have found out if you attempted to sign in and got an incorrect password error. This is because you'll need to generate an app-specific password for your iPhone or iPad in order to securely link them to your Gmail or Google Apps account.

How to setup Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Contacts using ActiveSync

Google licenses ActiveSync for Google Sync, which used to be available for all Gmail accounts but is now restricted to paid Google accounts. You don't get Notes sync when you use Exchange, but you do get incredibly fast email.

How to setup Gmail in the Gmail app

Setting up Gmail in the Gmail app gives you the complete Google email experience, but it doesn't give you Google Calendar or Google Contacts, or anything else. If you want to use the Gmail app, the good news is it's ridiculously easy to setup — just download and launch. However, you'll either have to setup your Google account in Settings (see above) or setup things like Calendar specifically using CalDAV.

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

How to setup Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Contacts on your iPhone or iPad


Unless I am seeing things Gmail contact sync is now part of the default IMAP setup for Gmail within iOS, it was a pleasant surprise that I noticed and allowed me to delete the Google CardDAV setup that was there purely for contacts

I always wondered if after all these years and since you are one of the most read blog, do you have any special contacts with apple ? Like Kevin had with RIM sometimes on CrackBerry (i remember he went to waterloo etc..)

Problem with the gmail in the iOS mail is that it doesn't support push settings, only fetch and manual are the options. Means you have to wait at least 15 minutes to get your new emails.

that and if you have folders upon folders (I do), then you're kind of, well, screwed, since the iPhone and IMAP don't do folders well (together). This is a huge, huge problem for me. Time to find a cheap exchange provider and migrate it all over I guess

Yep I have Gmail contact sync as part of the default IMAP setup as well. I just got my new iPhone and I was wondering why the Exchange wasn't working but saw I could now do contacts through gmail and was very happy!

I've never used Exchange, and I don't understand the obsession. I've always just used Gmail through the default mail app via IMAP.

The "obsession" was true push/pull mail and contact/calendar sync. Albeit both largely solved with the current IMAP implementation... other than the push email part

Sent from the iMore App

Is it only Gmail's IMAP that doesn't do push on the iPhone, or IMAP in general? So that means eMails are only fetched in intervals or when I open the Mail app? :s
Wow, I didn't know about this change. Good thing my Exchange Gmail is still set up.

Recently, all I can say to Google is: F*** you! There's this, then the fact that no master password can be set in Chrome to prevent passwords from being displayed in plain text; then the fact that they try to force G+ on my YouTube account; YouTube sometimes temporarily forgets about half of my subscriptions so I still have to search for my subscribed channels manually; the fact that the new iOS Google Maps app doesn't access the address book (so I can't get directions to contacts without entering the address manually); their Google Wallett app is still not available in my country; gMusic still doesn't work with half my music formats and doesn't recognize whenever I delete something from my library and keeps everything I ever had; and I have to use an outdated Google Desktop because they discontinued it even though it was great... :(

It seems that there is no push notification with Gmail and the Mail app. What is needed are simply notifications. The solution? Turn OFF all notifications in the Mail app. Download and set up the Google Mail app to notify of new email. Then open the Apple Mail app to see the unified inbox, send messages, and have more flexibility opening attachments. Works like a charm, for free.

This is a rather clever solution. The only downside I see is that you can't use a notification to take you directly to the Mail app.

Or, setup Gmail as described here and then check your e-mail a lot.

Let iOS 7's new multitasking do the work for you. =D

It's not perfect, and it doesn't always seem to work, but I've had my e-mail sound go off and no notification and then looked to see the e-mail there.

Mileage will vary, I presume.

I have two Gmail accounts setup -- one personal, one for work... so yes, you can have multiple Gmail accounts in

Sent from the iMore App

You need to go with a third configuration option, which was not covered in this post:

Choose "Other" account type, rather than Gmail, when setting up your mail account. Provide your actual Gmail address when setting it up, using and for the server names (make sure to specify your Gmail email address and password for the SMTP server connection also).

After saving the account, you can go back in and configure any sending address that you've already established within the Gmail website's settings for your account.

This is one advantage "Other" IMAP accounts have over both the "Gmail" account type and the "Exchange" account type... full control over what address you're sending from, within the native account settings.

Even for Exchange accounts, you always had to go to the clumsy page after getting a new phone, and configuring the "Enable Send Mail As" option, as well as what calendars you wanted to sync up. (Google: why not integrate these settings within the Gmail Settings area?!)

NOTE: Although CalDAV lets you decide which calendars you want to sync, right on the phone (unlike Exchange accounts), you may still need to visit a webpage to control which calendars appear here, especially shared calendars, which never seem to be visible on the iPhone CalDAV calendar settings by default. Go here:

It's actually better for me in iOS 7. Previously you would have to go with a comma-separated list of sender addresses, sort of a hack. Now in iOS 7, on IMAP accounts, you can actually setup the additional sender addresses in a normal iOS-style interface. And it seems smarter about using them. If you reply to a specific person with a secondary address, the next time you reply to them, it uses that same sender address.

Nice, I just saw that. I must have been brain farting and trying that technique under the Gmail tab instead of Other.

Does it have push though? And even though I have it set up as threaded, it isn't threading. And a thing I've never liked about the Mail app is that it doesn't show my responses. I love, threads everything, keeps my replies in the threads as well so I know exactly what's been said in the thread to date.

I am able to see all 4 of my google calendars through my personal gmail exhchange set up (including 3 calendars that are shared with me). The Exchange calendar also lets you set up the calendar color independent of the color on your google account (whereas through the CalDAV, it uses the closest iPhone color to the one you set in Google Calendar).

However, I do wonder about the sync accuracy - for example, my wife and I share our personal calendars, in addition to a shared "Family" calendar, with each other as readable, but not editable (I cannot create events for her and cannot edit her events). In CalDAV, that restriction is honored and reflected; in Exchange I am able to create an event for my wife (but I am not sure if will actually work since I really don't have that kind of access). So I stick with CalDAV.

Prezjobs thank you for your post as this seems to be a perfect solution for me. The only trouble I am having is adding multiple sending accounts. Can you help me out with this. Thanks in advance.

If you go back into Settings, in Mail, Contact and Calendars, select the account in question, click on "Account" and it will bring up the details view. The "Email" area below your name should be a selectable entry field. When you click on it, it brings up a new view that shows your existing email, with a button below it to "Add Another Email..." which you can use to add more.

Prior to this, you need to configure additional email addresses within the Gmail web interface, and validate them. Those are the only addresses you'll be able to use, AFAIK.

I used to use gmail back when I had an iphone, since 2010 when I made the move back to hotmail I actually find it to be a superior emailing tool. The sweep function is great and I love the EAS support which also lets me use in Outlook 2013.

With the new 'connector' on ios7, yes it is able to sync contacts and calendars. But what i discovered is that I cannot change the calendar colours!

Just change the calendar colour via your computers web browser instead. I'm guessing you want it to be red like the iOS 7 calendar theme?

Switching over to outlook is a better long-term option, want to reduce Google ties as much as possible.

On my Iphone 5s I'm using gmail for email and for calendar and contacts..On my desktop windows live..Happy...

How does one switch to a paid account. I looked and it only looks like you can do it if your using your own domain on gmail.

Sent from the iMore App

Have my gmail to check every 15 minutes. Works great. If not fast enough use the GMail app. Its free and everyone complains. I think Google has the best apps and they all work great.
Just My Opinion

I havne an iPhone and an Galaxy S4... I before could add a phone number in my iphone and it would instantly go in my S4... Is there anyway for this to still be done?

I use mail forwarding right now so I can keep true push and that I don't really send mail from my phone that much. I've been using iCloud right now, but is Outlook a better solution? I didn't realize they offered push too.

yes, add gmail to your iPhone under "mail, contacts, and calendars", then when you see what is available to sync, keep contacts ON.

I actually lost it on my Free account when an update to 6 came out in Feb. right around the time they cut it off. But they also cut it off on my Google Apps, and I had to work with them to fix that, and they told me at that time that they'd be cutting it off on ALL free apps in stages with updates.

There's no such thing as "switching to a paid Gmail account" as you are not able to use your current address. Using a paid gmail account that will get your exchange support requires you to setup an entirely new email this isn't exactly an option as you basically are just getting a new email. At that point, you may as well just switch to

I have a good solution. Forward your gmail to iCloud. I keep a copy in gmail and have a copy forwarded, just to have a backup. On your iOS device turn off mail under iCloud. Add a new email account with iCloud as the incoming mail server and gmail as the outgoing. Now you have push notifications and the process is transparent to anyone contacting you.

I have done this for several months now and it works great.

There are a few downsides. If you archive something it only archives it in iCloud and you have to repeat the process in gmail. And labeling doesn't work so well. Not a big deal for me since I rely on search in gmail, but worth noting.

When I set up forwarding in my Gmail account, I actually set a filter instead of using email forwarding. You still need to add a forwarding address (in your case iCloud, which you've already done) but choose "disable forwarding". Then create a filter for "to" and enter your Gmail address. On the next screen, select "Skip the inbox (archive it)", "mark as read", and "forward to" and choose your iCloud address from the dropdown menu. Once this filter is created, any email sent to your Gmail will be forwarded to your iCloud address, marked as read, and archived. That will keep you from having to archive manually in Gmail.

Gesture based email? I have to tap 3 corners of the screen now to delete one email instead of swiping and then tapping delete.

But my Gmail via Exchange is working just fine. Restore as new did not effect me.

I upgraded my iPhone 5 to iOS7 on Monday and now on Thursday I can receive my email from Gmail through the Apple Mail but can no longer send?? Has anyone else had this problem? Any suggestions? (Already deleted gmail and re-added it on my iPhone). Frustrating!

I originally tried the forward to icloud option and changed the SMTP info to googles info so if I replied it "sent" from gmail. However I still needed to manage my gmail inbox on the site to delete old crap (I prefer to save as opposed to delete). In the end I just migrated everything to icloud. Very happy that I did.

Sent from the iMore App

I switched to the mailbox app several months ago and I love it. It's fast, responsive, actually helps me manage my inbox and delete email that I don't need and archive/file the fee items I want to keep. I absolutely love it. My non-techie wife loves it too, she really doesn't care about most things tech related especially apps and whatnot on her phone but even she loves and uses mailbox. Highly recommend it!

I actually recently switched my email from Gmail to iCloud and haven't looked back. Changed my email address on most services and forward email from my Gmail to iCloud and will eventually change it everywhere. I'm still keeping my gmail login obviously - mostly because of YouTube.

So i kept my Gmail Activesync open using my iPad. But now, when i go to add it into my new 5s, it would allow me to use the Google Activesync....any ideas?

I think this is a way to Google make the people change from iPhone to Android. Losing the exchange support is a really bad ting for some of us.

Doesn't simply enabling GMail 2-Step Verification allow you to continue using your Exchange Push? It fixed mine on my iPhone 5S.

I love Mailbox.

However the send button is greyed out. I can't send any messages!

I've deleted/reinstalled Mailbox as well as fiddled with the SMTP settings.

No go!

I set up Gmail on my 5C through Google in the mail settings. I sync, contacts, calendar, and notes, and I left mail off. For that, I downloaded the Gmail app, which I think works pretty well. I get my mail right away, and I like the look of the app.
My only gripe with calendar sync, It never syncs newly added birthday's in my contacts,yet when I go into the calendar on my laptop, they are there, go figure. I just leave birthday's enabled in the stock IOS calendar app, and that fixes the problem.

This impacts Google Contacts, as well, right? In other words, previously I could add contacts via Google, then they would sync into my I-Phone. It was an easy cut and paste. You mentioned paid service. This is only for e-mail, not for purchased space from Google, right? Any insight would be appreciated.

As I collect my main Yahoo mail through my Google account on my pc I have always done the same on my pad and iphone with exchange.
I do this because it uses the default mail address set in google which is my yahoo address.
Although I can still collect and send mail using the built in Apple gmail it's not clever enough to use the reply address set with google which happens to be my yahoo address

I've always done this because I had a yahoo address first and like the contacts and calendar functions in gmail so have always just collected my email through google. When I send it simply uses the preferred yahoo reply address . No problem on pc.

Although this works in the gmail app on the iphone it would be nice to use the much neater apple version. After all if I wanted google apps I would have bought an android device.

The exchange system worked perfectly until it was removed. Any suggestions without using external apps greatly appreciated.

Hello, I understand from reading this thread that I must now use the gmail app for my gmail accounts. Is there any way to sync my google calendar with my I-phone calendar? I'm new to I-phone, so this is all new to me. I've tried syncing the way the apple forum says to, but receive the " username or password incorrect for".

Any help greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Hi I have just set up a gmail account and want to download the App into my iPad and iPhone, when ever I try to download it a message comes up saying I can't use the account as it is USA, I need to Switch to Australian store. I have no idea what that means or how I do it. Can someone help? Sorry not very good in the apps! Thank you

In my GMail Inbox I have three tabs: Primary, Social & Promotions. The tabs automatically weed out a lot of the facebook, linkedin and other "noise" emails. I just installed gmail on an iPhone 5c but don't see how to get those tabs, thus all those emails show up in my inbox. I see I can start another folder on the iPhone, but not the tabs. The tabs functioned on my Samsung phone. Any suggestions for the iPhone. Thanks.