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After returning my first iPhone last year, a feeling not unlike taking a terminally ill puppy off to be euthanised, I’m testing the new 3G iPhone this summer. Straight out of the box Mail is set up to retrieve Gmail via POP (the default setup offered by the iPhone’s Mail application) which won’t fully retrieve longer emails from the server, resulting in “this message has not been downloaded from the server” errors. Did I have another sick puppy on my hands?

Fortunately not. Gmail now offers an IMAP alternative to POP, the chief benefit of which is to keep your emails synchronised across several clients (e.g. your desktop, your laptop and your iPhone) — when you’ve read an email on one, it’s marked as read on all the others. If you file or delete email on one, it’s similarly filed or deleted on the others. Unfortunately the default Mail setup for Gmail on the iPhone assumes you’ll be retrieving email via POP.

As a bonus feature, I’ll remind you how to specify a different “from” email address than the Gmail account you’re specifying — in case you’re forwarding from another email account through Gmail for spam filtering, archiving and/or to circumvent having to VPN into your corporate email account.

So here’s what you need to do, in two parts …

Part One: Log onto the relevant Gmail account (at their website, via browser) …

1. Settings>Forwarding and POP/IMAPAccounts> …
IMAP Access: Punch the radio button next to “Enable IMAP” and “Save the changes”.

2. Settings>Accounts>* …
This step only required if your from address will be different from this Gmail account’s address: Set up “Send mail as” with as your default “from” address. Against “When receiving a message:” punch the radio button next to “Always reply from my default address”.

Now pick up your iPhone and create a new email account by going to the “Settings” widget …

Part Two: On the iPhone: When setting up a new Mail account do not start out selecting a “Gmail” account to set up. Choose “other” instead.

New Account …
Name Your Real Name Here
Address (*the address you want replies to go to, not necessarily the Gmail account you’re accessing, see also the additional setting required in Gmail below)
Password ***** (I enterd my Gmail password, but I’m not sure why they ask for a password here since the address given above isn’t necessarily your Gmail account address and you’re asked for username and password for each of the incoming and outgoing servers below)
Description The label you want iPhone to display when accessing this account (will default to the Address given above if you don’t change it)

Now when you “Save” this screen you’ll be presented with the IMAP and POP choices. The slider defaults to IMAP.

Incoming Mail Server …
Host Name
User Name yourGmailAccountName (without the extension)
Password ******

Outgoing Mail Server …
Host Name
User Name yourGmailAccountName (without the extension)
Password ******
Use SSL On
Authentication Password
Server Port 587 (these last two and all the “Advanced” setting may be left as they are defaulted)

That’s all you need to do. Now access your email. If you’ve chosen to use a different “from” address, test sending an email from this account via your iPhone’s Mail application and also from the Gmail website to ensure that outgoing new messages as well as replies are properly addressed “from” the desired email address.

Why does IMAP overcome “this message has not been downloaded from the server” error? I think the iPhone Mail client initially just downloads a few lines of each email to preview the available emails — but when Gmail, under POP, senses the mail being read, it marks it as being read and moves it into the archive folder. When the Mail client comes back to fetch the rest of the email, Gmail thinks it’s already given up the whole content and offers no more. IMAP is more sensitive to keeping things in sync, so does a better job at handling this. Problem solved!

Suggested reading: My previous blog on “iPhone issues using GMail’s alternative “from” address …” | Grumbles about this on the Apple discussion boards |


  1. thanks for this really interesting post I did not know that the new iPhone defaults to pop3 with gmail which frankly I would say is a painful default… interesting read thanks


    John Jones

  2. thanks so much for posting this.

    should i delete the “GMAIL” account once i’ve set up my new “other”?

One Trackback/Pingback

  1. […] reading: If you want to be able to reply via Gmail using a different “from” address (i.e. the mail account you forwarded from) then dig into my previous blog for how to do […]

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