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Using Gmail as your own personal push mail server

One of the biggest complaints from those migrating over from a Blackberry to an Android device has got to be e-mail.  We get used to doing things a certain way, and feel lost when things change.  Even if you’re not used to Blackberry’s push mail this is a great method to not only get things more organized, but save some battery as well.  Join us after the break!

Before we begin, lets talk a bit about push and pull e-mail.  On your computer, you’re pulling e-mail.  You’ve set up Outlook, Thunderbird, or any other e-mail program to check for new mail every x number of minutes.  This can be done on your Android device as well by following the Setup Wizard for the mail application.  This works great, and is easy to set up.  It also uses more battery power.  If you’re like me, you use the heck out of your Android phone, and anything to help save battery is a good thing.  That’s where push e-mail comes in.  Did you notice that you never had to enter a time to check message through your Gmail account on your phone?  That’s because Google pushes all Gmail to you.  When a new message appears in your Gmail inbox, you get notified automatically, just like when a text message is received.  We’re going to exploit that so Google checks your POP e-mail accounts, then sends you a notification when it gets one.  That way you no longer have to check for new mail every X number of minutes, and it saves your battery!

This nifty trick will work for any POP e-mail account, except for Yahoo.  Yahoo has decided that they will charge a yearly fee to use POP forwarding.  If you are tied to a Yahoo e-mail account and decide you want to pay the fee, then this works for Yahoo e-mail accounts as well.

To set up for this I’ve created a dummy POP account through my ISP (Comcast), and a dummy Gmail account.  Substitute YOUR pop account and Gmail account for my information of course.  (Unless you want even more crazy pharmaceutical offers or letters from Nigerian Princes :) )

Most of this work will be done on your computer.  If you don’t have a home computer, it can easily be done at the library or at a friends house.  Fire up your Internet browser and head on over to Gmail.  Sign in, and look for the settings link in the upper left.  I’ve highlighted it in the image below, which you can click to enlarge.

Go ahead and click the link.  It will open the settings area for your Gmail account.  We’re interested in the Accounts and Import tab.  Once again, I’ve highlighted it below, and you can click to enlarge the image.

Once you have it open, look for the button that says “Add POP3 e-mail account”.  It’s the third button from the top and in the section titled “Check mail using POP3”.  Click it and you’ll get a small window that looks like the one below.

In the input box, you’re going to want to enter the e-mail address you would like Gmail to check for you.  In the example, it’s  Substitute that with YOUR e-mail address, then click the Next Step button.  The window will change, looking very much like the example below.

Let me explain the settings here a bit. 

The Username field will be the User name of the POP account.  In our example, it’s testmonkey.  Normally, the part of your e-mail address before the “@” sign will be your username. 

The Password field is the password you use to check the POP account.  Type it in exactly the same as you would if you were checking mail.

The POP Server field is the internet address of the POP mail server.  This information is the same as if you were setting up a mail account on your computer.  If your unsure, a quick glance at the “help” section of the website that hosts your POP mail account should tell you.  Usually it will be mail. or pop. (don’t forget the dots!) then followed by the portion of your e-mail address that’s after the “@” sign.

The Port field is the port the POP mail server uses to listen for incoming requests.  This information can also be found from your POP mail servers “help” pages.  If in doubt, set it at 110.  This works for the vast majority of POP mail servers.

Leave a copy of retrieved message on the server.  In our example, that’s checked.  If you leave it unchecked, the mail will be deleted from your POP e-mail account once Gmail gets it’s copy.  I like to leave them available so I can also check my mail from a laptop or even another phone.  Warning - if you leave this box unchecked, you’ll be unable to get the mail from this account anywhere besides your Gmail account!

Always use a secure connection (SSL) when retrieving mail.  If your POP mail server requires you use SSL to check your mail, check this box.  If unsure, leave it unchecked.  In either case, if you choose the wrong setting Gmail will tell you when you click the Add Account button and you can change it.

Label incoming messages.  Check this one, and choose the label of the account.  In our example it’s left unchecked (see everyone makes mistakes!), but you’ll want to check this one.

Archive incoming messages (Skip the inbox).  Checking this will keep the mail collected off your POP account from appearing in your Gmail inbox.  It will still show as unread, but won’t be mixed in with any mail sent to  You’ll still be able to read it through the label settings (more on that later), so this is personal choice.  I like all my mail to get lumped together in one inbox as well as having the separate inboxes, so I left it unchecked.

Once you have things set up, go ahead and hit the Add Account button.  You’ll be sent to the next screen, which you can preview below.

Here you need to make a choice.  When you get a message (in our case) to and decide to reply to it, which account do you want the reply to be from?  If you choose Yes, I want to be able to send mail as any replies to mail sent to will show that e-mail address as the sender.  If you choose No, replies will appear to be coming from  This is a matter of personal preference, but for this tutorial we want to send mail from the same address it was received, so we’re saying yes.  After you decide, click the Next Step button.  You’ll see the next window, just like the one below.  Note that if you decide to choose No above, you can skip through until the rest of us catch up.

The Name field is the name you want the mail to be sent from.  Use your name, not Test Monkey :).  The link to Specify a different “reply-to” address is beyond the scope of this article and used when you are collecting multiple accounts and want to reply from an account other than the one that received the message.  The folks who need this already know how to set it up.  For the rest of us, just hit the Next Step button and see the next window.

This is another of those settings for advanced users.  For our purposes we want to use Gmail’s outgoing servers to send our mail.  Make sure you have the Send through Gmail button chosen, and hit the Next Step button to move forward.

You wouldn’t like it if I used your e-mail address as a reply-to when I send an e-mail to my son at school complaining about the latest increase in his car insurance.  Google thought of this and makes you verify the account before setting it up.  Click the Send Verification button to move forward.  At this point, we need to check the e-mail account we’re trying to use with Gmail.  DON’T CLOSE THE BROWSER WINDOWS THAT YOU HAVE OPEN.  You need to come back and enter the code after you’ve received it in your POP mailbox.  Open your POP e-mail and check for a new message from the Gmail Team.  Open it.

Above I’ve highlighted the code you need to enter back in your Gmail account.  You’re also given the opportunity to click a link to authorize it, but since we’re not quite done in Gmail we will just enter the code manually.  (Note - for those that like to do things they shouldn’t, these example accounts are already deleted so trying to use this info won’t do you much good ).  Copy down the code and head back to the Gmail window.

Place YOUR code in the box (don’t use the example, every code is different) and click Verify.  The window will close, and you’ll be back to the settings for your e-mail account.  Click the image below to check out our example

Make sure you have The highlighted section in our example marked in your settings.  From now on, Gmail will regularly check the POP account you’ve just set up and forward the messages to your phone.  We’re not done though, as we are going to set up special inboxes on our device to separate things.  If you would prefer everything go into a central inbox, you can skip this part.

Find a nice empty spot on your home screen, and give it a long press.  You’ll get a dialog pop up that looks something like the one below.  Note that mine may look different, as I’m using a device with HTC Sense , so don’t be alarmed that yours isn’t black.

Press the Shortcut selection, and you’ll see something close to the image below.

We want to choose Gmail label.  This will open your phone’s Gmail app to choose the label you want to display.  We’re going to choose “Comcast”, but you choose the one you just set up.

Go ahead and press the name of the label you want to show, and the window will disappear and you’ll be back at your desktop.  You’ll have a shortcut directly to mail with that label on your desktop as shown below.

Once again, your icon may look different depending on which version of the Android operating system you’re using.  Our example is using Cupcake.  Now if you click the new icon, you’ll be brought to your Gmail app, but you’ll only see mail that came in to your POP account.  We have another pic below to check out our example.

Since I didn’t tell Gmail to bypass the inbox, I also have a label for the inbox there.  If you didn’t choose to combine them, you won’t have one.  You can add shortcuts to as many labels as you like.  Here’s an image of a few in action

But wait!  We’re not done yet.  Having labels and inboxes is nice, but what if we don’t want to take up so much space?  Why put them in a folder of course!  Long press a blank area of the home screen again, but this time choose Folder.  You'll see the screen change to resemble the example below.

We want to pick New folder, so press it.  The window will close, and you’ll be back at the desktop with a new icon.  Oddly enough it’s named “Folder”. 

Well of course that won’t work.  Lets change it’s name.  Press the folder icon to open it.  A blank window will open, similar to the image below.

Notice the title bar of the window is named Folder as well.  To change it, click the title bar of the window.  A new window will open that lets us set the name as we would like it.  In our example, we’re going to name it Mailboxes

Hit OK and you’ll be dumped back to the desktop.  Notice that the name of the folder has changed.  Now long press on one of your e-mail labels, and drag it over to the Mailboxes folder after it becomes movable.

Once you’re over the Mailboxes folder, let go.  The Gmail icon will dissapear, but don’t worry.  It’s now nested inside the folder.  You can move all your mail labels into the folder.  Now hit the folder icon again and look inside. 

Now try it out.  Open your Gmail application and send a new e-mail to the account you just set up.  Give it a few minutes, and when you get the new mail indicator, click the label you just created and you’ll see it sitting there waiting for you. 

This trick can be done with as many POP e-mail accounts as you would like.  I use it to check and deliver my mail from three other accounts.  When you add up the power savings from not having to check and pull from three other accounts every 15 minutes, it gets to be fairly significant.  You do need to know that this doesn't make the mail delivery instant.  Gmail checks your POP accounts on a set schedule of 15 minutes or so.  Once it hits Google's mail server, it's pushed directly to you.

I hope you found this as helpful as I do, and that you enjoyed this weeks Inside Android.  Now get working and solve those e-mail woes for good!

Jerry Hildenbrand
Jerry Hildenbrand

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

  • Nice idea and I def like the look and setup more than the conventional way but I like to have different ringtones so I know if I am getting a work email or a personal one and if I am wrong with this way you can not. The nice thing though is to have options and appreciate the steps showing how to do this. Thank you.
  • Yes, Gmail is so hot right now.. hopefully this will be improved
  • Nice write up. If you have an email service that uses IMAP with IDLE, you can use the K9 email client on Android to have your email pushed on your phone as well.
  • question, once this is all set up and you have multiple accounts, can you chose to compose from one of the secondary accounts? I know you can respond from the original, but can I send a message and have it show as from my secondary acct?
  • yeah you can and he did say it in the post. ok i stand corrected. sorry.
  • Unfortunately no. Android's Gmail client doesn't support that yet. But there's another easy workaround :). Leave your regular POP mail account (the one you had to tell to check every X number of minutes) active on your phone, but set it to never check the server. When you're faced with a situation that you need to originate a mail from that address, use the Email app (from the appropriate account) to send it. BCC it back to yourself so it also appears in your Gmail label for that account.
  • On your PC when setting up the POP3 Account, you can select which account is the send maail as default, your GMail account or the new account you just pulled into GMail. By making the non-GMail account the default any message sent from GMail will appear to come from the other account, even from your phone.
  • How do I do this? I can't find any setting, And when i try it will only get gmail option.
  • This is very nice info to have but what about those who use Microsoft exchange. I have mine on exchange and for the most part it works well. My only beef is not seeing my corp. global list. One biggie for me, no email signature. Great to have if you are a g-mailer but for us in the working world, this was a MAJ. oversight in the device. Funny, I actually had a "V" rep tell me in store that this is NOT a business device...REALLY? I think so and I know iPhone makes no claim they are a PLAY only device. Over all, I think it functions ALMOST as well as my blackberry did...just need better exchange interface and a signature. If you Gmail only, PERFECTION!
  • Thanks for the write up. I've been wanting this set up for some time.
  • Thank you so much for this tutorial. I thought about doing it this way, but was unsure if possible.
  • is there a way to get your blackberry email on your droid device
  • I get it. My problem is that I have all my labels and pops set up in g-mail for almost a year now, and even-tho I'm only syncing 4 days... all emails are coming in and my phone is getting extremely bloated. I tried archiving some labels and that did happen either. I would like to be able to control the labels and amount of emeils that gets pulled to my moments phone. thanks in advance
  • In your gmail app settings you can define how each label is sync'd. Set them to none to only see new mail for each.
  • How about if I only want the last 30 days?
  • I've done the "none". they are still there. I wiped out the phone started from scratch and the same thing happens. The minute u boot up gmail it pulls everything.
  • Are the mails all still sitting on your POP server?
  • WTF is this all about ? The Gmail that comes with the phone does this already ??
    I get my messages instantly, and I didn't set any pop forwarding on gmail ?
    What exactly is new here ?
  • It's for accounts other than gmail :) ps hi.
  • Great write up! and while I do this already I wasn't aware of the send from trick. Not sure if it's new but I'm off to update all my settings.
  • i'm using mail on mac and i have both my school email and my personal email on it however when i had my school mail pop to gmail i now get double of all the emails being get it so that i don't get double emails (one from the school email and one from the gmail account to appear on mail?)
  • I have a separate label for my AOL, but when the mail is pushed to my phone, I do not receive an alert. Do I have to remove the label and let it go into the main inbox label for the notification to work?
  • You'll have to have both labels (AOL and inbox) to get alerts. Only new mail to the inbox fires off a status bar notification
  • hang time!
  • k-9 mail is free in the market and it works great...keeps things separate as well
  • I still dont get it. I have all my labels and pops set up in g-mail for almost a year now, and even-tho I'm only syncing 4 days... all emails are coming in (from day one)and my phone is getting extremely bloated. I tried archiving some labels and that did happen either. I've tried it when i set syncing to "none". they are still there. I wiped out the phone started from scratch and the same thing happens. The minute u boot up gmail it pulls everything. I would like to be able to control the labels and amount of emails that gets pulled to my moments phone. thanks in advance HELP!!!!!
  • I did this when I first got the droid on release day. It's a great option if you don't want to get your emails quickly. If you get a lot of email you will get the updates fairly quick but if not it's can take like 45min to get your email. What happens is the google server polls your pop to look for email, if it finds one it checks for another 5 min later (just a guess on time from what I've seen) if it doesn't find one it won't check again for 45 min (again just an educated guess.) Otherwise great instructions.
  • You can always go into
    > Settings
    > Account and Import
    > Check mail using POP3:
    > Check mail now To force import of pops
  • As I appreciate the effort of this tutorial it doesn't truly send an email from your POP account through your Gmail account on your phone (Moto Droid). I played with this every which way and tried it out having my coworker send me an email and I replied to him on my Moto Droid using the method in this article. This is the address my coworker received my reply from: [] On Behalf Of (I took out my real Gmail account name and used "personal" and took out my work POP email address and used " This doesn't work for me as my customers will become confused as to which is my email address. I'm really bummed about this as it would have been nice having Gmail act as a Blackberry server and push me new emails from my POP work email address and allow me to replay to them with my POP work email address. Ohh well back to POP email set-up on my Droid :(
  • I believe you can overcome the "On Behalf Of" if you use the advanced set-up that isn't mentioned in the article. I have set-up other accounts this way in gmail and the On Behalf Of goes away.
  • I would like to try this, but being a novice I cannot find if my server MSN is a mail. or a pop. Does anyone know which MSN is? Also, should I delete my account MSN account before adding this POP3 account?
  • Has anyone had problems receiving emails after doing this? I set it up three days ago and haven't received an email for 12 - 15 hours.
  • To get Yahoo to work with this method for free (i.e. NOT buy yahoo plus); If you change your location settings to "Yahoo! Asia" it will work. (go to My Account > Account Settings > Set language, site, and time zone > New Setting > Yahoo! Asia) It will keep your time zone/ language, don't worry. Apparently yahoo doesn't charge asians for pop3 forwarding. the only difference I've noticed is that I can no longer send SMS thru yahoo.
  • Any way i can import my work email that is set up with 1&1 webmail? Im using k-9 mail but i want to know if it can be done with this method? Its imap nor pop3.
  • Just to add, I set this up but instead of having Google's server's poll my POP3 account I set my POP3 account to forward a copy of the email to Google. This way the emails arrive instantly just like on a Blackberry.
  • good write up and i see you mention Thunderbird which i use as my email for business on my pc. Is there a way to make it work on the Droid? I've checked elsewhere but have always drawn blanks in getting an answer.. any help much appreciated
  • great tool however, I have become extremely annoyed HELP! Problem: I set this up, and everything appeared to be going great, that is, until my hotmail and gmail started syncing. My Hotmail account is OLD, and i have roughly 1000 emails in there (one day I will delete them!) and they are now showing up in my gmail inbox. Thinking that if I undid the pop settings i just did from the guide above that it would fix this issue. Well it did not. I disabled pop and IMAP from the gmail settings, deleted the Gmail tag....pretty much everything I could think of. STILL NOT WORKING! What is going on? any ideas? or am I going to have to wait until every email on my Hotmail account has synced with my gmail, and then delete them all?
  • My POP accounts set up effortlessy. Technically I guess the exchange server account did as well. The problem I have with it is that it demands I put in a password that I need to enter everytime the screen shuts off. After entering the password 20-50 times a day I got fed up, but to remove it I've needed to do complete data reset and reinstall everything (pain in the neck but not the end of the world.) I've done several laps of the above so far, trying to decide whether having the exchange-server mail is worth the trouble. Of course all I really want is to have the exchange server e-mail without this incredibly annoying password. Anyone have any suggestions?
  • Excellent and priceless help!! You have just made my husband a very happy man. Awesome and easy to follow help. Thanks again!!
  • Excellent job. Helped me consolidate into one email client, etc. Thanks!
  • Guess I'm the oddball. Can't get it to work. Setup won't locate my ISP email with the port # as copied from email phone settings. There's one port entry (in the drop box) it does allow, but gmail isn't pushing anything. My android doesn't seem to pull my email with no where near the reliability of my BlackBerry.
  • OK, I just got rid of my Blackberry and bought a new Droid Bionic.I set up my earthlink account to push it to gmail. Everything works fine except that I have to hit the refresh button to get the mail to show up on my phone. It shows up fine on my desktop. I'm sure I just missed some setting but which one? Thanks
  • Tried it and gmail is working fine however cannot remove old work account because it got labeled other by my Samsung charge and while it shows up when I go to check email it does not show up under settings/accounts so I could remove it. Any idea how to remove accounts labeled other? I needed to get rid of it because it was taking two days to send my mail.
  • I use Emoze Push client which gives me the ability to push any type of email ,obviously Exchange ,IMAP,Gmail Hotmail but even POP3 which is very limited email protocol.
    I've done benchmarks with the stock ICS email client and with several third party clients like Touchdown, Moxier, K9 and I find that Emoze has the advantage in almost every aspect.
    Push notification is stable and fast ,less than 60 sec.
    Battery consumption is low ,I’m able to work in push mode without charging for 22 hours.
    I’m quite a heavy email user so it was kind of a surprise to me because I used to have 6-8 hours max with only one account working in push.
    I have 5 email accounts which is about 100-200 email per day so no kidding ,this one really improved my life ,I’m less paranoid about my battery.
    Other features which are quit useful are the security options that allows you to find the device location by SMS or email
    and also to remote wipe or block by SMS.
    This is cool because you don’t need PC connected to the internet to get the job done ,you can simply send SMS to your phone number to activate the security process.