I want all my mails to stay on Google server (as I read them from multiple clients and from the web), being able to delete then from the client (deleting them on the server as well) and do not retrieve all 3GB of them when first configuring the program.

When trying to add a new Gmail account, Mail doesn't ask how to configure it, so it’s not the Exchange configuration I'm after.

How do I configure Mac Mail app so that it works with Gmail like iOS's mail application does when configured with Exchange server?

2 Answers 2


You can configure Gmail as IMAP account type. That will sync your mail messages between multiple mail clients.

That leaves open your request to not retrieve all 3Gb of mail when first configuring the program. There I haven't got an answer only a possible workaround. Many mail clients limit their download sizes when they are on low bandwidth connections. You could try to limit your bandwidth, for exmample to 8 kbps, with these terminal commands when having Gmail configured to use secure imap:

$ sudo ipfw pipe 1 config bw 8kbit/s #create reduced bandwidth pipe
$ sudo ipfw add pipe 1 src-port imaps #sent traffic from imaps thru pipe

As Gmail is not offering an Exchange server, only ActiveSync compatible, you will never get an exact similar experience with Gmail.

  • Isn't it Exchange that Gmail offers? I have set it up as Exchange on iOS (connecting to the server m.google.com) and it works beautifully.
    – pistacchio
    Commented Jul 11, 2012 at 7:23
  • Exactly Gmail is not offering Exchange. Gmail is offering an ActiveSync compatible protocol.
    – Pro Backup
    Commented Jul 11, 2012 at 7:37

(preabmle: the following won't actually give you a working Gmail+Exhange+Mail.app solution, because, as it turns out, m.google.com is not a true Exchange server and is missing some stuff Mail.app expects)

Go to /etc/hosts and map gmail.com, imap.gmail.com, ns1.google.com, ns2.google.com, ns3.google.com, ns4.google.com to some arbitrary IP: gmail.com imap.gmail.com ns3.google.com ns4.google.com ns1.google.com ns2.google.com

(might not be needed to do that for all of those but I did and it had an effect)

That way, when you add an account with an e-mail address in the form of [email protected], Mail.app will fail to auto-detect that it's Gmail.

It will then complain, but when you press Continue, you can manually choose the account type to be Exhcange. You then change the server to m.google.com and add the @gmail.com suffix to the user name.

Before pressing "Continue" you comment out the /etc/hosts hack lines. Mail.app then successfully sets up your Gmail account as an Exchange account.

However, as noted in the preamble, it won't work—as soon as you try to sync the mailbox, it'll just try to sync for a long time and then nothing will happen. —I'm just posting it here for those who are curious/like hacking, and in case m.google.com implements the missing Exchange features at some point and Mail.app doesn't get updated immediately.

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