Set up Claws Mail to work with Gmail

Jack Wallen
Aug 5, 2009
Updated • Feb 13, 2018
Gmail, Linux

"Once more unto the breach my dear friends, once more!" I've written about Claws Mail quite a bit (see “Claws Mail: The unsung powerhouse email client“, “Claws Mail must have plugins“, “Create Message Filters in Claws Mail“,  “Encrypting email in Claws Mail“, and "Make Claws Mail aware when you need top or bottom posting".) In the business world most people use Exchange. Unfortunately Claws Mail does not communicate with Exchange.

Fortunately there is an alternative that a lot of people use - Google Mail. And good news for Claws Mail users, it can communicate with Google Mail!

Of course it's not terribly cut and dry, how you set up Claws Mail to work with Google Mail, but it's not so difficult that a newbie can't configure it. So let's see just how this is done.

Setting up Google Mail

The first thing you have to do is set up Google Mail to allow IMAP connections. To do this go to your Google Mail account and click on the Settings link near the top. Once in the settings window click on the Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab. In this section you will want to check "Enable IMAP" in the IMAP section. Once you have done that click the Save Changes button and you're ready to move on over to Claws Mail for the real work.

Tag you're it!

Gmail does not handle mail with folders. Instead it uses tags. So in order to be able to use Gmail you have to have, at least, the bare minimum of tags created in order for your Gmail mail to have a place to live. In order to create tags you need to click on the Configuration menu and then click on the Tags entry to open up the Tags Window.

Figure 1
Figure 1

When the Tags Window opens (see Figure 1) you simply have to type the new tag in the text area and then click the Add button. The tags you need to add are the following:


You can add as many tags as you want depending upon how many folders you need (or have) on your Gmail account.

Configure your Gmail on Claws Mail

Now you need to go to the Configuration menu and select Create New Account. In this window you need to configure the following options.

Basic section

Personal information: Fill this out as you need it.

Server section

  • Server for receiving:
  • SMTP Server:
  • User ID: Your gmail address
  • Password: Your gmail password

Receive section

Authentication method: LOGIN

Send section

  • SMTP Authentication: Enable this
  • User ID: Your gmail address
  • Password: Your gmail password

SSL section

  • Use SSL for IMAP4 connection: Enable this
  • Don't use SSL (under SMTP section): Enable this

Advanced section

  • SMTP Port: 465
  • IMAP Port: 993

The final step

Go back to the main Claws Mail window. If you right click on the Gmail main folder you will see an entry for Subscriptions. Under that entry there are three sub entries. You want to click the Subscribe entry to subscribe to your Gmail mail. Once you have done that you can click Get Mail to download all of your Gmail mail. You are ready to go.

Final thoughts

Gmail is becoming a standard email service for many people, and with good reason. And now, if you use Gmail you can connect everyone's favorite Claws Mail client.

Set up Claws Mail to work with Gmail
Article Name
Set up Claws Mail to work with Gmail
Jack Wallen walks Linux users through the steps of setting up Google Mail (Gmail) in Claws Mail.
Ghacks Technology News

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  1. Trey said on September 14, 2017 at 12:46 am

    It’s September 2017, and the setup information above is still relevant and still works. Thanks for the tut. I may have never figured out the “TAGS” step.

  2. Eric said on December 24, 2016 at 11:28 am

    Thank you works perfectly, using claws on new raspberry pi pixel image. I couldnt set it up myself so your article helped me out so much!!

  3. gifi-code said on December 13, 2016 at 6:02 pm

    Following the instructions without any questions – nothing forgetten.
    But: Connection refused, so I’m not able to get or send (g)Mails =-/.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on December 13, 2016 at 6:04 pm

      Did you enable pop3 / smtp on Gmail?

      1. gifi-code said on January 9, 2017 at 12:26 am

        So far I can say:
        * “POP is enabled for all messages.”
        * and “IMAP is activated.”

  4. Rich said on June 3, 2016 at 5:04 am

    1st. thanks for the great article.
    2nd, Signing in is taking forever and times out after one minute, I didn’t have this problem with Mailbird or Thunderbird, is this a Claws issue or do I need to set up something differently?
    Thanks again

  5. drew said on August 23, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    I had some false starts with Claws getting it to connect to Gmail. I found that “rebuild folder tree” kicked it in the pants and got it to connect and start working.

  6. Ade said on June 8, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    Subscriptions on the Main Claws Window ???

    I’m using 3.8.0 and can’t find that.

  7. fuckyea said on August 20, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    most helpful walkthrough, thanks bro

  8. Scott G said on December 4, 2012 at 5:58 am

    Nice work! Thanks for the well done guide.

  9. Partho Banerjee said on December 29, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    I imported my gmail contacts into claws in a simple two step “static” process.

    1. Logged in to my gmail web account, went to my profile, then contacts. I exported the selected contacts to vcf file and downloaded on my computer.
    2. Opened my Claws client, opened address book. In Main menu, Book->New vCard. It opens a small dialogue box, gave it my name of choice, then browsed to the vCard file that I downloaded from gmail web in the above step.

    That’s it. The new imported contacts are ready to use in Claws.

  10. Garret said on December 15, 2011 at 4:42 am


    Update I had to use SMTP as “” with port 465, and all was good. It did not work any way to Sunday with

    Thank you, very good guide.

  11. harry said on July 1, 2011 at 9:25 am

    thanks for the useful info. Had trouble retrieving gmail using imap.
    A small change to ur article though.
    SSLSection: Send (SMTP): Use SSL for SMTP connection ——- also works.

  12. Evan said on August 9, 2010 at 5:01 am

    and a full 1 year later…

    here to say thanks for all your informative articles on Claws. Helpful.

    Had a couple of questions if I’m not way too late:
    1) “Don’t use SSL (under SMTP section): Enable this” Why?
    2) Does one ‘sync’ one’s Gmail account this way? Fully, with attachments and all labels?

  13. David said on May 22, 2010 at 10:21 am

    Very helpful! Thank you :)

  14. Paul said on August 8, 2009 at 10:01 am

    > Unfortunately Claws Mail does not communicate with Exchange

    Yes it does, but only if the M$Exchange admin activates IMAP support.

    1. Gmailier said on May 12, 2017 at 10:31 am

      You are right, and it’s exactly the same for Gmail currently, you must activate IMAP access and “allow less secure applications” (note I don’t agree Claws Mail is “less secure” but this is the name Gmail gives to the option) or it won’t work.

      1. nik said on May 25, 2017 at 8:11 pm

        I added 2 gmail accounts to a new install of Claws (Linux Mint 18).
        The first installed fine.

        The second one told me to access the account by webmail where I found the error you mentioned – in an email that said I had to allow less secure apps.

        I don’t know why the first one worked and the second didn’t (both gmail accounts – by imap) but I clicked “allow less secure” and the email opened in Claws. I then went back to the gmail link and clicked “Don’t allow less secure apps”. So far both gmail accounts continue to work fine in Claws (even with “don’t allow less secure apps” now selected.
        We’ll see if that survives a full reboot.

  15. paulus said on August 5, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    When William Shakespeare could write and post with claws (in combination with gmail) i am totally sure, that he (William Shakespeare) would be way more productive. By the way i am not Henry V.

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