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Getting Gmail with Thunderbird

You can use Thunderbird to get your email from Gmail. To do so, you need to first setup your Gmail account to allow a local email client to pickup the mail. Then you need to setup Thunderbird (or whatever email client you like) to actually pickup the mail.


Setting up Gmail to allow access

Google offers a very quick simple tutorial showing how to configure Gmail here

Additional Notes:

  • Use https://mail.google.comā„mail/#inbox) to access your email, not simply http://... ) this way the mail is viewed securely, instead of as open text. The S after http routes your email through Google's secure server and sets up encryption between you and them so your emails aren't sent in clear text.
  • Change status to Enable POP (so you can pickup mail) - Do this for either all email or just email from now on. If you've accumulated lots of mail, then you may not want to download all of it.
  • Select an option for what to do with the messages after you've picked them up:
  • Delete them here
  • Archive (recommended)
  • Leave them
  • Save your changes

Setting up Thunderbird to Pickup Mail

After you've setup Gmail to allow you to pickup your email, you'll need to setup Thunderbird to actually do it. Here is the tutorial.

Additional Notes:

  • I assume you have already enabled POP in your Gmail account. If not, do it.
  • If you want all your mail kept in a single place, even when picked up from multiple accounts then select "use global inbox" If you want your email from different accounts kept separate, then uncheck this.
  • Enter your Gmail user name including the @gmail.com for both incoming and outgoing.
  • Enter the name you want the account to have - probably Gmail.
  • Review other Server settings
  • Decide whether you want to check Gmail automatically when you startup Thunderbird and also whether you want to continuously check and download messages.
  • Decide whether to leave messages you've picked up or delete them.
  • Decide whether to empty trash on exit.


The Final Secret

You would think that Thunderbird would use your default smtp server to send email, but it does not. It uses whatever outgoing email server was designated when you setup that account, BEFORE you had a chance to setup the Gmail's outgoing server! To get your other accounts to use the default outgoing server (smtp server), you need to reset each account to use the default outgoing server instead of a specific outgoing server. Of course, if you want a specific account to use a specific server instead of the default server, then you don't change it to use the default server.

So where is this magic setting? Under outgoing server? NO. Under Server settings for each account? NO. It is at each account's base node.

  • Toward the end of the base node for each account you are allowed to specify the outgoing server to use any already specified server or to use the default server. Make the change for each account.


Date: January 2008

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This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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