We’ve already showed you how to use Gmail’s IMAP support in Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird and even KMail, but what about the built-in mail client in Windows Vista… how could we leave that one out?

It turns out that it’s quite a usable application, not entirely full-featured or extendable, but it handles the job with a lot better performance than the others we’ve looked at so far… not to mention being rather slick looking.

If you haven’t already enabled IMAP in Gmail, open up the settings page and choose Forwarding and POP/IMAP, and then select to Enable IMAP.

Open Windows Mail and choose Tools \ Accounts from the menu and then click on the Add button.

You’ll obviously want to select E-mail account and move to the next screen…

Enter your name.

Enter your email address, using your Gmail email address here. You’ll note that mine is not @gmail.com because I’m using Gmail hosted for your domain.

Finally, more than one option on the wizard page… choose IMAP from the drop-down, and then enter in the following values:

  • Incoming Server: imap.gmail.com
  • Outgoing Server: smtp.gmail.com
  • Check “Outgoing server requires authentication”

Note: If you are outside of the US you may need to use imap.googlemail.com and smtp.googlemail.com instead of imap.gmail.com and smtp.gmail.com.

On the next screen enter in your Gmail email address and your password.

Very important: Check the box for “Do not download my e-mail and folders at this time”.

Click the Finish button to get back to the Internet Accounts dialog, and then select your new account and choose the Properties button.

On the Advanced tab, you’ll want to first check both options for “This server requires a secure connection(SSL)”, and then verify that the ports are set to the following:

  • Outgoing mail (SMTP): 587
  • Incoming mail (IMAP): 993

Now choose the IMAP tab and remove the checkbox for “Store special folders on IMAP server”.

Informative Note: If you do not remove the checkbox here you will end up with duplicated sent items, and your deleted / junk mail will just end up being archived in a label. Your choice. If you don’t use labels in Gmail you could enter [Gmail] as the root folder path, and then adjust the values in the special folders section to match the Gmail folder names. It’s also worth noting that you cannot use [Gmail]\Spam here because Windows Mail will not accept the “\” or “/” characters in folder names.

Important Setting

Now you can close out of the account settings dialogs, but before you start Sending/Receiving you’ll probably want to click on the “imap.gmail.com” item in the left hand folder pane and adjust these settings so Windows mail doesn’t try and download everything:

  • Remove the checkbox from [Gmail]
  • Remove the checkbox from [Spam]
  • If you have a lot of messages, you should consider removing the checkbox from [All Mail]
  • Change all other folders to “Headers only”. (You could leave the Inbox set to All if you’d like)

Now that you’ve made these changes, you can go ahead and hit the Send/Receive button, and hopefully everything should work perfectly now:

Creating New Folders / Labels

Gmail Labels are represented as folders on the Windows Mail side. You can easily create a new folder by right-clicking on the imap.gmail.com entry and choosing New Folder.

You can even create subfolders, which will show up in Gmail named “TestLabel/Subfolder!” for this example:

Dragging a message to the folder will assign the label in Gmail.

Deleting a Message from Gmail

If you want to delete a message from Gmail you can’t just hit the delete button, because while it will delete the message from view, it simply archives it on the Gmail side.

To delete the message drag it to the [Gmail] \ Trash folder.

Marking a Message as Spam in Gmail

Because we can’t synchronize the spam folders, if you want to mark a message as spam in Gmail you’ll have to drag that message over to the [Gmail] \ Spam folder. Otherwise it’ll just end up being pushed into your All Mail archive.

Using the Conversation View

One of the nicer features in Gmail is the conversation view, and you can somewhat emulate that in Windows Mail by going to View \ Current View \ Group Messages by Conversation.

The threaded view is pretty nice, the only problem is that you won’t see your replies in the list, the way it works in Gmail.

Starring a Message in Gmail

To star a message on the Gmail side, just click to “Flag” the message in Windows Mail.

Obviously it works the other way too.

Are We Done?

We sure are. Everything should be working quite well… unlike most of the other clients Windows Mail seems to work quite well for me in terms of performance. It’s not as integrated as Thunderbird can be, but very usable.

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Lowell is the founder and CEO of How-To Geek. He’s been running the show since creating the site back in 2006. Over the last decade, Lowell has personally written more than 1000 articles which have been viewed by over 250 million people. Prior to starting How-To Geek, Lowell spent 15 years working in IT doing consulting, cybersecurity, database management, and programming work.
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