• 26 . 07 . 11
  • A short explanation of how to set Gmail up with OSX Lion’s Mail.app, without any mail duplication.

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Configuring OS X Mail For Gmail Without Duplicates

I’ve been using Gmail tied to my Google Apps account for the last couple of years and I love it. However, travelling around with intermittent Wi-Fi access for the last 6 months has meant there have been a couple of occasions where I really could have done with getting to email but haven’t been able to. I’d resisted the urge in the past to use a local Mail client, but with the big improvements to OSX Mail that came with Lion (in particular the full-screen mode that just lets it sit in its own space out of the way), I took the plunge and set it up this week.

Linking Mail to my Gmail account was relatively painless, with the following settings for the account:

Account Type: IMAP

Incoming Mail Server: imap.gmail.com
Username: {Google Apps Account Email Address}
SSL: Yes

Outgoing Mail Server: smtp.gmail.com
Authentication: Password
Username: {Google Apps Account Email Address}
SSL: Yes

Everything was up and running pretty quickly. The only major issue I had was duplication of messages. Each Gmail label is interpreted by Mail as a folder and so items that are labelled will appear once in the Inbox and once in the Label folder. As I label everything, that’s a pretty big issue. Plus, the “All Mail” folder that is created as part of Google’s Priority Inbox feature means everything is duplicated there as well.

Luckily, the solution to this is also straightforward. First, in Gmail, I visited Settings => Labels. There is a column specifying “Show in IMAP” and the simple solution was to uncheck this box for every single label apart from Trash, Drafts and Sent Mail. (Inbox can’t be unselected but that’s ok.) Next, I opened up Mail and gave it a few seconds to refresh the mailboxes. There were now only the 3 folders I’d selected. The final step was to tell Mail how to treat those folders. First, I clicked on the Sent Messages in the sidebar underneath my Gmail account, then clicked Mailbox => Use This Mailbox For => Sent. I repeated the appropriate steps with Trash and Drafts. After a couple of minutes, Presto!, everything is as it should be. The Inbox, Sent and Trash folders are exact representations of what’s in GMail and there are no duplicates on the machine, saving space and Spotlight results. The final step to unifying the two was to go to Preferences => Viewing and then check the option for “Include Related Messages”. Now the conversations are threaded by default with Sent and Received messages interleaved as expected.

The only slight drawback is that obviously you can’t view subsets of your messages by label on the client. That’s no problem for me though, as I rarely need to look at all the messages of a given label at the same time, and fast full-text search on the client makes it unnecessary.

By all accounts, IMAP support in Mail.app was pretty poor in the past. However, setting it up in the most recent version is a breeze. Now when I need to access archived information locked away in my email, I can!