Apparently more Apple users than usual are having trouble with Google's Gmail service over IMAP today, specifically a “mail service imap.gmail.com is not responding" error. Google's aware of the problem and looking into it, and in the meantime have posted some quasi helpful tips on minimizing the chances you Gmail will simply error-out on iOS. Personally, I'd recommend switching to Gmail over Exchange ActiveSync, but if you're a die-hard IMAP lover, you can check them out and hope for the best...
The sad truth is, Gmail's back-end service and Mail.app's front-end client have never worked very well together. Google has incredibly stingy bandwidth and simultaneous connection limits for a provider their size, and Apple is incredibly greedy when it comes to grabbing connections, and downright silly when it comes to re-syncing massive amounts of mail for seemingly no reason.
I've had frequent errors for 3 or 4 years now, and neither company has shown the slightest interest in fixing them. Then, and today, if you use Gmail and have Mail.app open on several machines or set up as IMAP on several iOS devices, you'll have problems. From the likes of Google and Apple, that's simply unacceptable. Gmail needs more reasonable usage limits and Apple needs to be more reasonable about using them.
So while it's all well and good that Google is aware of today's “mail service imap.gmail.com is not responding" problem and are working to fix it, the greater problem needs its fair share of fixing too.
Again, switch to Gmail over Exchange ActiveSync if you can, and if you can't, check out the helpful tips below...
- Don't store draft messages on the server. In Apple Mail, go to Preferences > Accounts > Mailbox Behaviors and make sure to uncheck "Store draft messages on the server".
- Avoid syncing all your mail to more than one mail program
- Avoid removing and re-adding your Gmail IMAP account to a program, causing your mail archive to be synced multiple times
- Avoid uploading a lot of messages to Gmail, for example by dragging-and-dropping messages from your local disk into a Gmail folder
- Avoid telling your mail program to save a copy of sent mail on the server, and then sending a lot of mail
- Check whether you have granted access to your Gmail account to any third-party software that could be downloading mail on your behalf. Check your account activity for any unrecognized activity. You may be able to revoke this access in your Google Accounts settings. If you gave these sites your Google password, you might have to change it to prevent them from logging into your account.
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Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.