How to Set Up IMAP Access to Your Gmail Account with Mozilla Thunderbird

As with anything else, it's always a good idea to backup your Gmail account. There have been a few Gmail outages and some instances of account hijacking; if you have backups of your Gmail, you could always access your important emails even in the event of an outage or hijacked account. It's not too difficult to backup Gmail and there are several ways to do so:

  1. Backup to your local computer
  2. Backup to another Gmail account
  3. Backup to a non-Gmail account
This article will be the first in a series showing how to backup your Gmail account and will show you how to backup your Gmail account to your local computer.

To backup to your local computer, you'll need a email application such as Outlook Express, Outlook, or, better yet, the free Mozilla Thunderbird. Then you'll need to decide whether or not to use POP or IMAP to download emails to your computer. I recommend IMAP because it syncs actions done locally, such as deleting and marking as read, with what you''ll see in the Gmail web manager. POP does not; if you delete locally, you will have to duplicate that action when you return to web-based GMail.

So with all that in mind, if you have downloaded Mozilla Thunderbird and decided to go with IMAP to link between it and GMail, then lets begin.

1) First enable IMAP in GMail by going to Settings > Forwarding and POP/IMAP and enable IMAP:



2) Then you need to open Mozilla Thunderbird and go to Tools/Account Settings and once the new window opens click the Add Account button in the bottom left.

3) The Account Wizard will open and you'll want to select Email Account:



4) Next, enter your name and Gmail address:



5) Next select IMAP and enter imap.gmail.com as the Incoming Server and either confirm or enter smtp.gmail.com as the Outgoing Server:



6) Next you'll enter your user name under Incoming and Outgoing (or just confirm Outgoing):



7) Then click Next and Finish to complete the wizard.


8) Now you'll need to adjust some of Thunderbird's settings. Go back to Tools > Account Settings and go to Server Settings and make sure that the port is 993 and that you select SSL under Security Settings.



9) Next go to Outgoing Server several entries below Server Settings and select your Gmail account and then click Edit.



Enter Port 587 and select TLS.




10) Next go to Copies and Folders and change Keep Message Drafts to Other and select [Gmail] > Drafts:




11) Next, set the Junk mail options:



12) And if you want to use this feature to backup your emails locally and be able to work offline, go to Offline and Diskspace and make messages available while offline:



If you have a ton of emails in your account, the download could take a long time.


Well, that's pretty much all you'll need to do to access your Gmail through IMAP with Thunderbird. You can view Google's recommended client settings to further enhance your experience.

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