The Complete Guide to G Suite IMAP Settings

Although the G Suite mail interface is easy to navigate, some people prefer to use a different email client to handle messages they receive through G Suite, gaining a few more features.

If you’re interested in making use of Microsoft Outlook, Apple Mail, or other desktop clients with G Suite and Gmail, you will need to learn about the IMAP settings in G Suite. By making changes to these settings, you easily can manage with your emails in the desktop client that you prefer.

We’ll help you figure out how to make the most of the G Suite IMAP settings.

The Quick Answer: G Suite IMAP Settings

Here are the settings you will use to configure IMAP for your preferred desktop client to handle incoming Gmail.

  • Incoming Server:
  • Requires SSL: Yes
  • Port: 993

What’s IMAP Anyway?

IMAP is short for Internet Message Access Protocol. Its primary function is to give you the ability to control how your email messages move from your email server to your client software.

With IMAP, you do not automatically download the email messages from the server to your device. When you open them to read them, your email client leaves the original copy stored on the server, just allowing you to see a copy of the content in the message.

The advantage of IMAP is you can open your email messages from any device that is logged into your email client. You don’t remove the messages from the server when you download the email messages to your computer. Without IMAP, your messages would be stuck on the first device where you downloaded them, meaning you could not access them from a mobile device later.

Your Email Middleman

You can think using IMAP like employing a middleman to manage your email messages. IMAP gives you the ability to see and manage the emails, while leaving them stored on your email server.

The IMAP middleman synchronizes the messages on both your device and on the email server. Any changes you make while the message is on your device become mirrored on the email server through the IMAP protocol.

As an added advantage, you can sort and organize your email messages using IMAP without ever having to download them to your device.

As long as you have a secure and fast connection to the email server, you will be able to work quickly when using IMAP.

IMAP Vs. POP: Which Is Better?

Even though IMAP and POP both deal with managing email messages, they work in significantly different ways. These protocols are not interchangeable and do not mean the same thing.

The majority of email clients can use both IMAP and POP, and you can set up the client to use the one you prefer. You can even switch between the two protocols as much as you want, if that would fit your desired use case better.

What Is POP?

Before we compare IMAP and POP, let’s discuss how POP works.

POP is short for Post Office Protocol. When you set up POP for your email client, your messages download automatically to your device from the email server. At the time of the download, the email server nearly always deletes the message from the server, meaning the only copy is now on your device.

When organizing and sorting your emails through POP, the folders will only appear on your local device. Copies of these folders and your organizational structure will not appear on the email server, as they do with IMAP.

Advantages of IMAP

IMAP is the preferred protocol for the majority of users, as it carries quite a few advantages.

  • Access messages anywhere. As long as you have an Internet connection available, you can see your email messages from any device and wherever you are. The messages do not download to any one device.
  • Check on sent messages. If you have deleted messages that you need to access again later, or if you just need to verify that a message was actually sent, using IMAP may allow you to find an old message. The server will maintain a record of all messages you sent for a period of time.
  • Provides fast performance. Because you do not have to wait for all of your new messages to download to your device each time you sign into the email server when using IMAP, your overall email experience will seem faster. With IMAP, the device only downloads a copy of the contents of an email message when you click on it to read it.
  • No waiting for attachments. If you are checking email messages that have attachments with them, when you have IMAP activated, any attachments to those emails will not download until you attempt to open them. This speeds up your ability to go through your email messages, as you don’t waste time downloading attachments you have no desire to see.

Advantages of POP

Because POP is a slightly older technology than IMAP, your email client may be set up to use POP, even if you don’t know it.

POP does have a few advantages for those who choose to use it. (The latest version of this protocol is POP3, so you may see some places refer to POP as POP3; these terms mean the same thing.)

  • Working offline frequently. If you often find yourself needing to read your email messages at a time where you will not have access to the Internet, POP is the better choice, as it will always download the messages to your device. (IMAP has an offline and download feature, but it is not automatic.)
  • Always connected to the network. If you only need to read email messages while you’re sitting in front of a desktop computer attached to a network with strong speeds, POP will work very well for you. You won’t need the portability advantages found with IMAP, nor will you have any worries about having to wait for attachments to download, as your wired network speeds should be better than any wireless speeds you can achieve.
  • Those with very slow connections. If you have an extremely slow Internet connection, IMAP may frustrate you, as you’d have to wait for your messages and attachments to download after you click on them. You may prefer POP and having all of your messages and attachments download at one time. You can work on other things while waiting for all of the messages to download in POP.
  • No worries about storage quotas. It is possible that your email server will limit each email account to a certain amount of storage. With POP, because the messages automatically download to a device, you can devote as much storage area to your emails as you like without worrying about storage limits.

IMAP Settings for G Suite and Outlook

To start checking your Gmail messages using IMAP through another email client like Microsoft Outlook, you’ll want to start by turning on IMAP.

  • Click the Settings button (looks like a gear) in Gmail’s upper right corner.
  • Click the See All Settings button to give you access to the G Suite IMAP settings.
  • Click the Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab on the top right.
  • If it isn’t already selected, click the Enable IMAP button near the center of the page. (This should cause the Disable IMAP button to deselect.)
  • Scroll to the bottom of the page and click Save Changes.

Making Changes in Outlook

Next, open Outlook and change the IMAP server settings to reflect the use of Gmail.

  • Start by clicking the File tab and the Add Account button.
  • Enter your full Gmail address in the text box and click Advanced Options.
  • Check the Let Me Set Up My Account Manually checkbox and click the Connect button.
  • Click the IMAP icon.
  • Outlook may prepopulate your IMAP settings here; if so, it may skip automatically to the next step. If not, you’ll have to enter the G Suite IMAP settings we listed at the start of this article yourself.
  • In the popup window in Outlook, you’ll need to enter your Gmail password and click the Sign In button. (You may have to obtain a verification code from Gmail.)
  • On the next window, click the Allow button to let Microsoft have access to your Gmail messages.

Final Tips for Your G Suite IMAP Settings

When setting up Gmail with Outlook, Google does not recommend doing this with any version of Outlook older than Outlook 2016, because those older versions do not support OAuth. Google does not recommend using Gmail with any client that does not support OAuth.

For more information on using G Suite and Outlook, we have detailed instructions regarding GSSMO (G Suite Synch With Outlook). We also have tips to help you determine whether you should get Office 365, which includes Outlook.

If you have to enter your SMTP settings manually in Outlook, you should enter:

  • Outgoing Server:
  • Requires SSL: Yes
  • Port: 465

It can take up to 24 hours for your IMAP changes to go into effect.

When IMAP Settings Are Needed for Businesses

There are quite a few types of situations where your business will want to make use of IMAP to handle email.

On-the-Go Work

As it becomes more common for employees to work outside the traditional office setting, having the ability to see email messages on any device and anywhere an Internet connection is available is a necessity, and IMAP enables this easily.

Your employees become far more productive when they are able to access email messages when they are outside the traditional office setting.

Use Any Device at Any Time

Some people prefer to use a desktop computer at the office, while others like to use a smartphone to do work related items.

With IMAP enabled, employees are free to use whatever device they feel most comfortable using. They can even use multiple devices, automatically accessing any changes they made on the first device when they open the email client on the second device.

No Worries About a Lost Device Equaling Lost Emails

If an employee loses a device or if the device crashes, at least the employee does not lose all of his or her email messages when using IMAP. Once the employee is able to begin using a new device, accessing email is an easy process, because all of the messages remain on the server.

Think of using IMAP like having an automatic backup copy of all of your messages always available without you having to remember to make those backup copies.

You Receive a Lot of Emails That Don’t Apply to You

Sometimes, an employee may end up receiving quite a few emails during the business day that are for information only, and they don’t really require you to take any action. You may not want to waste time downloading these messages when you’re waiting for an important message.

With IMAP, the email client only downloads the headings for each message, which allows it to work quickly. You don’t have to wait for the client to download full messages before you can access the message you actually want or need to read. This allows you to work faster and more efficiently.

You Have Limited Storage Space on Your Preferred Device

If you often use a smartphone to read your company emails, you may not want to occupy your precious storage space on the smartphone with tons of messages and attachments.

With IMAP, copies of the messages will download to the device when you choose to read them. You can delete these copies from the local device at any time, preserving storage space, while leaving a copy on the server.

You Need Maximum Flexibility

Although some people will choose POP when they want to download messages for reading when they’re offline, they don’t have to stick with POP for this feature. IMAP allows you to download and store messages locally, so they can be read offline, if desired, but you will have to change the settings.

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Bryan Wise
Bryan Wise,
Former VP of IT at GitLab

Incredible companies use Nira