Connect Outlook for Mac 2011 to Gmail’s IMAP service

Outlook for Mac 2011 v14.2 (SP2). has made it easier for Outlook users to connect to their Gmail IMAP account. Enter your Gmail email address and password when creating a new Identity and your Send & Receive settings have been done for you automatically. What has not changed is why you should use IMAP rather than POP.


Standard POP/SMTP E-mail services download and delete mail from the mail servers by default. IMAP’s difference is its ability to let the user read and sort his mail on the server and synchronize his changes with several devices. That means:

  • Messages read on any computer will appear as read on the other computers
  • Mail folders created on any computer will synchronize to the other computer
  • Messages moved and sorted among those mail folders will be moved and sorted on the other computers


Outlook users will need to create settings in 1) your browser and 2) Outlook for Mac.

Part 1:  Configure Gmail Setting in browser

After logging in to your Gmail account, select Settings under the gear in the upper right corner of the page.

1) Select:  Forwarding and POP/IMAP” tab

  1. Enable IMAP on your Gmail account
  2. Recommended: disable POP
  3. Use default setting for Trash
  4. Click the Save Changes button.

2)  Configure Gmail “Show in IMAP” Settings

Select the “Labels” tab in Settings to select folders to sync to IMAP.

Gmail has it’s own special settings and does not follow normal IMAP setup. For more info see Gmail’s Recommended IMAP client settings.

Labels – Gmail’s labels are folders in an email client. Gmail can assign multiple labels to one message in your browser but these will be multiple messages in your email client. “Show in IMAP” box will determine which labels appear in Outlook.

If you don’t see “Show in IMAP”, you have not enabled IMAP under Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab.

Custom folders – You might have already noticed the default folders like Personal, Peceipts and Travel  that are included by default in your browser setting do not show up in your email client. You must use the [Gmail]/ prefix on any custom labels (folders) in order to view them in your email client.

All Mail – The All Mail folder can be very large and it’s not recommended that you sync this folder to Outlook. It can cause confusion since a message in the Inbox also exists in All Mail appearing to be a duplicate.

Sent Mail – Normally you want to save your sent messages in your Sent folder. Don’t do this. When sending from Gmail’s server, your sent messages will be automatically copied to the [Gmail]/Sent folder. By default Outlook 2011 will set Sent to “Don’t store a copy of Sent Messages”.

Trash – Deleting a message in your browser will not delete the message. It simply moves it from Inbox to All Mail. To really delete, you have to move the message to the Trash.

Drafts – Can be stored under “On My Computer” Drafts folder or on the server if you want the draft email synced to all devices.

Junk/Spam – Gmail recommends you do not enable Outlook’s junk mail filter. Whether you decide to sync to the Spam folder will depend on how much spam you receive and how much good mail gets caught by the Gmail spam filter. Some users do not sync and log into their accounts with their browser to deal with the spam folder.

Starred  = Flagged (will sync to Outlook)  

Important = High Priority (Not syncing for me)

To get started, I suggest the following settings. In addition to checking these folders, add a Junk E-Mail folder as shown below. Use the [Gmail]/ prefix.

3) Configure Filters

Select “Filters” tab to apply filters (Rules) to incoming messages.  I find it’s best to use Filters to automatically move messages from the Inbox to a custom folder rather than run Rules once the messages have been downloaded by Outlook. Using Rules results in the messages uploading to the server when the rule moves the message to a different folder causing a delay in viewing message.

We’re done with browser settings.

Part 2:  Configure Gmail Account in Outlook

Add Gmail account

1)  Launch Outlook 2011. Under Tools in the Menu bar, select Accounts.

2) Click on + to add new email address in the bottom left of the window.

3)  Enter your Gmail address and password

4) Gmail account is connected when you see the green button.

Configure Advanced Setting in Account

1)  Click on Advanced tab in bottom right.

2) Configure Server Settings

You have two options for IMAP Root Folder.

1) Leave blank results in a double tree structure.

2) To avoid this double tree structure and enable some additional IMAP features, you’ll want to enter [Gmail] as root.

3) Configure Folders

Part 3:  Verify your settings

I suggest you turn off Group folders in Outlook Preferences > General while setting up accounts. After completing setup you can re-enable if desired.

Control-Click (Right-click) on the Gmail Header and select Refresh Folder List. This will show folders as per your settings.

To Synchronize an individual folder, select folder then Control-Click (Right-click) on folder and select “Synchronize Now”.


Share this:
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Google Bookmarks
  • PDF
  • Print

Comments are closed.