November 8, 2010

Gmail + iPhone + Apple Mail

For a while now I’ve been using several different Gmail/Google Apps accounts with Apple Mail and the iPhone. There are an abundance of guides out there describing the best way to integrate everything so you have the same user experience in webmail, desktop, and mobile. I’ve tried a bunch of these but they all seem to fall short of doing things how they should. I wanted the experience to be as close to a normal IMAP server as possible, where the mindset is that emails should be deleted, NOT archived. This post comes to the same conclusions, albeit with some screenshots and some elaboration.

A few necessary aspects of my “perfect” setup.

  1. Ability to delete a message on any platform, so it gets put in the trash, NOT archived.
  2. Move a message to a local folder in Apple Mail, it gets put in the trash on the server, NOT archived.
  3. Get rid of All Mail so duplicate messages aren’t downloaded and the badge count is correct.
  4. Clean up the folder hierarchy in Apple Mail such that there isn’t a [Gmail] folder and all Gmail folders are correctly mapped (Spam, Sent, Trash etc.).
  5. Nested Folders.

Gmail / Google Apps Setup

First, we need to get your Gmail / Google Apps account set up correctly with IMAP to allow us to access things from Apple Mail and the iPhone. This involves customizing the IMAP behaviors, and customizing which IMAP folders display in Apple Mail. Follow the instructions below.

  1. Settings > Forwarding and POP/IMAP > IMAP Access > Status > Enable IMAP
  2. Settings > Forwarding and POP/IMAP > IMAP Access > When I mark a message in IMAP as deleted: > Auto-Expunge off
  3. Settings > Forwarding and POP/IMAP > IMAP Access > When a message is marked as deleted and expunged from the last visible IMAP folder: > Move the message to the Trash
  4. Click “Save Changes.” Then go to:
  5. Settings > Labels > System Labels > Important > Uncheck “Show in IMAP”
  6. Settings > Labels > System Labels > Chats > Uncheck “Show in IMAP”
  7. Settings > Labels > System Labels > All Mail > Uncheck “Show in IMAP”

You’re done, now open Apple Mail.

Apple Mail Version 9.2 (3112) Setup

My goal was to map all the Gmail folders to the appropriate Apple Mail folders so things like Drafts, Sent Mail, Trash and Junk were available on the left mailboxes view in the main sections, NOT within the account folders below. This setup differs greatly from Google’s suggestions but it has been working well for me. This method will leave the [Gmail] folder in Apple Mail, but it will be empty. If you actually want to remove that, you have to get a bit more complicated. I plan to outline that method in another post.

  1. Create a new account. You can figure out how to do this on the Gmail Help page.
  2. Go to: Mail > Preferences > Accounts > The account you added > Mailbox Behaviors > Make sure everything is checked.
  3. Go to: Mail > Preferences > Junk Mail > Enable Junk Mail filtering and select “Move it to the Junk mailbox” option. Close the Preferences window.
  4. In the left hand Mail folder pane, find your account name and expand the [Gmail] folder
  5. Map the folders within to their correct functions in Apple Mail by selecting the appropriate folder and then going to: Mailbox > Use This Mailbox For:
    • Drafts > Drafts
    • Sent Mail > Sent
    • Spam > Junk
    • Trash > Trash

Apple iOS 9.1 Setup

Now on the iPhone we want to have the same clean folder hierarchy and have deleted messages actually get put in the trash instead of archived.

  1. Set up a new email account: Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Add Account… > Google > Enter your info
  2. Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Select your account > Account > Advanced > Archive Mailbox > On the Server / Archive
  3. Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Select your account > Account > Advanced > Deleted Mailbox > On the Server /Trash
  4. Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Select your account > Account > Advanced > Move Discarded Messages Into: Deleted Mailbox
  5. Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Select your account > Account > Advanced > Mailbox Behaviors
    • Drafts Mailbox > Set it as the Gmail Drafts folder
    • Deleted Mailbox > Set it as the Gmail Trash folder

What did all this do?

We’ve successfully mapped all folders correctly in Apple Mail and on the iPhone. Deleting works as it should, actually moving the email into the Trash instead of just Archiving it.