As a web-based email service, the easiest way to use a Gmail account is through your browser. Without any extra software, the web interface provides access to your inbox and contact list, allows you to send and receive emails, and is the only place to make changes to your account settings. However, it is not the only option for accessing Gmail; you can log in through an application on your mobile device or through a desktop email client.
Use a web browser
In the work environment
Visit the Gmail website in any web browser at mail.google.com (or www.gmail.com) and sign in to access your inbox. On the inbox page, you’ll see guides for various types of email and links to other folders. Click an email in your inbox to open it, or click To compose to start a new email. The search bar at the top of the page searches for your messages.
On the right side of the page, click the gear icon and choose Definitions to make changes to your account, like customizing your inbox tabs, setting up email client access, changing the page’s theme, or working with filters.
The Gmail website also works on mobile browsers. Visit the same address with your smartphone or tablet to access the Gmail mobile page, which has a more compact design. You won’t be able to change most settings on the mobile version of the site, but reading and writing emails works just as well as on the desktop site.
Use an application
Official Gmail app
Google offers a dedicated Gmail application for Android and iOS. Many Android devices have the Gmail application built in and it connects to the Google account you use with Android itself; therefore, Gmail generally requires no configuration – just open the app and you’re ready to go. For iOS, you will need to download the app from the App Store and sign in. The app offers a simpler interface than the mobile site, but both work basically the same, so it’s a matter of preference.
IOS Mail App
Another option with iOS is to use the embedded email application. On iOS 8, open the Definitions app, tap Submit, Contacts, Calendars and choose Google.
Sign in with your Gmail address and password and tap Accept. Turn on the Submit option, tap Save and iOS takes care of all the technical details behind the scenes. Open the Mail app to see your inbox and write emails.
Use an email client
Desktop email clients, like Microsoft Outlook, also support Gmail accounts, providing offline access to downloaded emails and integrating Gmail into the same workspace used for other email accounts. To get started, open Gmail settings in the web interface for Routing and POP / IMAP tab. Select Enable IMAP and click Save editions. Leave the other options at the default settings.
Gmail also supports access to POP email, enabled on the same tab. However, unless you are using a very old email client that does not support IMAP, use IMAP instead of POP. IMAP is best for keeping your account in sync, so you don’t see duplicate emails when opening Gmail in different locations.
After enabling IMAP, you just need to add a new account to your email client and log in with your Gmail address and password. Most customers, including Outlook, Thunderbird and the Mac email application, take care of the technical details automatically, so you don’t have to enter IMAP server addresses or ports manually. If the program used asks for these details, enter the following settings:
- Incoming server: imap.gmail.com, port 993, SSL enabled
- Outgoing server: smtp.gmail.com, port 465 (or 587 if 465 does not work), SSL enabled, authentication enabled.