Clear search
Close search
Google apps
Main menu

I'm having problems downloading mail

A few common reasons can cause trouble downloading mail with Gmail's IMAP feature. If you can't download mail, please follow this troubleshooting checklist:

  • Are you able to log in to the Gmail web interface?

    Visit to log in to Gmail. If you see a CAPTCHA (a security image with distorted letters), you'll need to log in before you can enable IMAP access. If you're locked out of Gmail, please wait one hour and log in to Gmail again.

  • Have you enabled IMAP in Gmail?

    Sign in to the Gmail web interface. Open the 'Forwarding and POP/IMAP' tab on your 'Settings' page, and configure IMAP. After enabling IMAP in Gmail, make sure you click 'Save Changes' so Gmail can communicate with your mail client.

  • Did you enable SSL for the IMAP server?

    Make sure SSL is active for IMAP in your mail client. For more information, please review the configuration instructions for your specific client.

  • Did you enter the correct username and password?

    Verify that your username is spelled correctly, and that you've entered '' Also, we suggest you re-enter your password just to be sure it's correct.

  • Is your download taking a long time?

    Many desktop email clients will attempt to download a limited set of information about every message in a folder (headers or index). Others will attempt to download all of the messages in a folder. Some will even attempt to download all of the messages in all of the folders. If you have a lot of messages, this can take a long time, and your IMAP client might not be usable until after it has finished this initial sync with the server. Future syncs should be faster.

    Also, we recommend disabling your client's anti-spam or junk mail filters, as noted in our recommended client settings.

  • Why is my mail client crashing when I download messages?

    Most desktop clients will perform poorly with large numbers of messages in a folder, or may even crash. The number varies from client to client and also depends on your machine's performance and memory. This limit can range from 20,000 messages to 100,000 messages. Considering Gmail's high quota for mail that can store well over 100,000 text messages, it's possible that your mail client will experience this problem, particularly in processing your '[Gmail]/All Mail' folder. If you have this many messages in your labels, we recommend doing some housework to clean up your labels in the Web interface. Remember, the web interface shows counts of threads, not messages.

Vivian is a Gmail expert and the author of this help page. Leave her feedback about this help page.

Was this article helpful?
Watch video tutorials

To get the latest tips, tricks, and how-to's, subscribe to our YouTube Channel.