Using Mac’s integrated Mail client is in my opinion the only way to go and it surprises me how many people do not know how to set it up or even know it’s available. The Mac Mail app allows you to configure your Microsoft Exchange email, Gmail, AOL, and any another email address that allows a IMAP or POP3 connection. The Mail app will alert you instantly of new mail arriving without you having to sit at your browser refreshing the page or minimizing and maximizing constantly.
1. Setting up Gmail with Mac Mail app
IMAP vs POP3
Google provides three ways to obtain access your Gmail, their free email service; via the browser, POP3, or IMAP. The Post Office Protocol version 3 (POP3) is a standard protocol used by local e-mail clients to retrieve e-mail from a remote server and download it to the client. IMAP is also a standard protocol for accessing email but unlike POP3 the email stays on the remote server. With POP3 you are limited to reading your email from one location. With IMAP the email stays on the server and you can read it from any computer. IMAP is the method I use to access my Gmail in Mail.app and is the method I suggest for everyone else to us. Example: If I read an email in a web browser then it is marked as read on the server and in Mail.app
Configuring the app
Configuring Mail.app to use Gmail is relatively easy. Google has provided excellent instructions on their Gmail Help web site. I have provided my own detailed version here at Tech Heavy. I have also provided screen shots of the process to help you better understand the process. Launch Mail.app and click Mail->Preferences from the menu bar. Click on the Accounts tab and then click the “+” symbol on the lower left to start the account creation wizard.
Enter your name, your Gmail address and password. Be sure to deselect the “Automatically set up account” check box. This check box is enabled by default and automatically creates an entry for POP3 access. We want to setup for IMAP. Now click continue.
Click the Account Type drop down and select IMAP. Be sure to change the Incoming Mail Server address to imap.gmail.com. Leave the other fields as they are and click Continue.
The next screen is for setting up the Outgoing Mail server information. You will need to enter in the “Outgoing Mail Server” as smtp.gmail.com and make sure “Use Authentication” is selected and your Username and Password is filled out as well. Once you are done filling out the fields on this screen click Continue. This will take you to a confirmation summary page. If it all looks correct go ahead and click create. The new account should now appear in the Account column on the left.
One of the benefits of using Mail.app with Gmail is that you can now take advantage of all of Mail.app goodness. You can set fonts, colors, backgrounds, and signatures, or one of those interesting templates and pick addresses right from your Address Book.
2. Setting up Microsoft Exchange with Mac Mail app
Is there another email provider you would like us to discuss the setup process for? If so post in the comments and we will add a walk through for them!