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Choose your IMAP email client settings for Gmail

We recommend the settings below if you use IMAP to read your Gmail messages in another email client, like Outlook, Apple Mail, or Thunderbird.

Outlook
  1. Open Outlook.
  2. Click File and then Options and then Mail and then Save messages.
  3. Uncheck "Save copies of messages in the Sent Items folder."
iPhone
  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap Mail, Contacts, and Calendars and then Gmail and then Account and then Advanced.
  3. Tap Drafts Mailbox and then On​ the Server and then Drafts (Drafts might be listed under [Gmail]).
  4. Tap Archive Mailbox and then On the Server and then All Mail.
  5. Tap Move Discarded Messages Into and then Archive Mailbox.

Note: When you discard a draft on your iPhone, it gets permanently deleted in Gmail.

Thunderbird

Step 1: Open your IMAP settings

  1. Open Thunderbird.
  2. Click Edit and then Account Settings.
  3. Highlight your Gmail address.

Step 2: Update the settings on each tab

Server settings tab

  • Check "Check for new messages at startup."
  • Check "Check for new messages every 10 minutes."
  • Next to "When I delete a message," select Mark it as deleted.
  • Uncheck "Clean up Inbox on Exit."
  • Uncheck "Empty Trash on Exit."

Copies & Folders tab

  • In the "When sending message, automatically" section, uncheck "Place a copy in."
  • In the "Drafts and Templates" section for "Keep message drafts in," select Other and then Your Gmail address and then [Gmail] and then Drafts.

Junk Settings tab

  • Uncheck "Enable adaptive junk mail controls."

Apple Mail
  1. Open Apple Mail.
  2. Click Menu and then Preferences and then Accounts and then Mailbox Behaviors.
  3. Update the settings below:
    • Sent: Uncheck "Store sent messages on the server."
    • Junk: Check "Store junk messages on the server." Next to "Delete junk messages when," select Never.
    • Trash: Uncheck "Move deleted messages to the Trash mailbox" and "Store deleted messages on the server."
Another email client

If you aren't using one of the email clients above to read Gmail messages using IMAP, try these tips.

Sending

  • Don't save sent messages on the server. Sent messages are automatically copied to the Gmail/Sent folder if your email client uses SMTP.
  • Save draft messages on the server if you want your drafts to show when you open Gmail on the web.

Deleting

  • Don't save deleted messages on the server. You can find messages you delete from an IMAP folder in your "All Mail" label in Gmail.
  • Don't change your IMAP settings to save deleted messages in the Trash. When you do this, any messages you delete from your email client will get permanently deleted from Gmail in 30 days.

Junk mail & spam

  • Don't turn on your client's junk mail filters. Gmail automatically sorts spam and malware before it reaches your client.

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

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