If you have a Gmail account and an iOS device (iPhone, iPad), you’ve probably got the two linked together in some way. You may be using the dedicated Gmail app, but I’d be willing to bet most of you have Gmail setup within Apple’s Mail application. Either way is fine, but I wanted to point out the different ways you can setup Gmail on your device, particularly because it seems to be a bit of a cloudy area for a lot of people.
In order to setup an email account in iOS, you first have to navigate to the “Settings” icon on your device and select the option called “Mail, Contacts, Calendars” and then “Add Account…“. At this point you are prompted to select the kind of account you’d like to add. This is where is ceases to make sense for some of us, so allow me to explain.
Your instinct at this point would be to select the account type “Gmail” and proceed to setup the account by entering the required information (user name/password). While this method will work just fine (and honestly, it’s probably the easiest way), it may not be ideal for some people – and here’s why. When you setup a Gmail account this way, you lose the ability to have Gmail “push” your emails. “Push” simply means that the instant an email arrives in your Gmail account, you’re notified immediately. If you followed the Gmail icon to setup your account, your emails won’t arrive in real-time. What will happen is your phone/tablet will check your account either periodically (e.g. every 15 minutes), or only when you open the Mail app – it depends how you have it setup.
In order to have full “push” functionality, you’ll want to setup your Gmail account using the following method:
After navigating to Settings–>Mail, Contacts, Calendars, you will be prompted to select the “account type”. Choose “Exchange“. I know, how counter-intuitive is that?!
Enter your Gmail email address, password, and a description for your account (e.g. Gmail). Upon doing so, the screen will expand and ask you for some more information:
All that’s left to do at this point is enter the server: m.google.com and you’re good to go. But wait! There’s something else you should do while you’re here…
With your Gmail account now setup to “push”, we should now take a moment to look at your email settings. You may have set your Gmail account to “push”, but we should still check to make sure it’s configured properly, and we may as well check your other accounts while we’re there. Here’s how you check your “push” (email shows up immediately in your inbox) and “pull” (selected interval) settings:
Go back to the “Mail, Contacts, Calendars” screen. Under the list of your accounts, you’ll see an item called “Fetch New Data“. Click on it:
This will take you to a new screen with an “Advanced” option across the bottom:
Click on “Advanced” to be taken to the somewhat unknown area of push/pull settings. It is within this window that you can turn push or pull on for your accounts:
Once everything is setup in this window how you like it, scroll back one screen by hitting the “Fetch New Data” arrow in the top-left corner. If you have any accounts set as “Fetch (aka Pull)”, you can set how often your device will check for mail here (e.g. every 15 minutes, every hour, manual (only when Mail app is opened).
It’s easy to see why people get confused or don’t fully understand the inner workings of Gmail on iOS devices. With a few fairly simple steps though, you can set things up in a way that gives you far more control.
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