How to Keep Gmail, but Not Actually Use it
I’ve been using Gmail since it was first introduced. I’ve had my own domain since 1996, and in 2000, registered a second domain.
When Google introduced the Google Apps product, I moved my mail for both domains to it. I still have grandfathered free accounts there. So, all of my mail goes through these two domains. I have an account on both of them, but I forward one to the other and only ever really set one of them up in my mail clients. I’ve been pretty happy with the Gmail service until I got my new iPhone 5s.
About a year ago, Google announced that they were disabling Microsoft® Exchange ActiveSync® support for free Gmail accounts (including free Google apps accounts). But, for people who already had them set up, they grandfathered them in. But, when I got my new iPhone and synced it with the backup of my old phone, I could no longer get mail. It gave me an error message about not being able to connect. (Sorry, I didn’t get a screenshot.)
So, I had to set my Gmail account up as a “standard” Gmail account. And then, I was only seeing new messages when I ran the mail app on my phone. Turns out, Google does not support push notifications for people connecting via IMAP. You can have your phone check every 15 minutes (that’s the lowest setting), but then that lowers your battery life.
I looked at using the Gmail client or another third-party mail app, but then, when you tap a link to create a new e-mail, or if an app creates a mail message, it will still use the built-in mail app, and really, I couldn’t find one that I liked. I couldn’t even find one that would let me choose what notification sound I want when a new message comes in. Bottom line, I wanted to stick with the stock mail app so I wouldn’t have to deal with a different experience. (This solution will be used for other friends and family members, and training all of them on a new app, and why it looks different sometimes when a message is created just sapped me of the will to live.)
I have an iCloud account, but I don’t really use it. I like having my e-mail address use my custom domain, and I like being able to send and receive mail with that address. The easiest thing to do would be to just switch to my iCloud account and then forward my Gmail to iCloud. But, if I do that, then any mail I send would come from my iCloud address, rather than my custom domain.
Moving my domains to a “better” mail service is really just a huge pain in the ass, and I didn’t want to deal with it. I have a few friends and family members who are using accounts on the domains, and I’d have to migrate all of them too, and it’s just too much trouble.
So, how can I get mail through iCloud and send via Gmail? It’s actually pretty easy, but it’s ugly.
If you add both your Gmail account and your iCloud account to your phone, then you can pick a default from address and it will use that if you compose a message from All Inboxes. The ugly part is, that if you compose a message while looking at your iCloud account, the default from address will be iCloud, but you CAN manually change it to Gmail. (But you have to do it every time you send a new message.)
Plus, you have to deal with having three inbox choices (All Inboxes, iCloud and Gmail) in your mail app and always make sure you are using the right one.
The first thing I did, was go into the Gmail web interface and change the forwarding setting to archive mail that it forwards. This keeps new incoming mail on my Gmail account from landing in my inbox, but still keeps a copy there for historical purposes.
So, now my Gmail will get forwarded to my iCloud account, and since iCloud does stellar push notifications, I will get timely notification of new e-mails.
Then, on your iPhone set up your iCloud account (if not already done) and then add your Gmail account.
After you have both accounts set up, go to Settings -> Mail, Contacts, Calendars and scroll down to Fetch New Data. Leave Push on, but tap your Gmail account and change it to Manual, and then go back and change the Fetch schedule to Manually.
Then go back to the Settings -> Mail, Contacts, Calendars screen and in the last selection in the Mail section set your Default Account to your Gmail account.
Now open the Mail app and go to the Mailboxes screen. Tap the Edit button and uncheck everything except All Inboxes.
Then tap Done.
Now, you will only see one inbox and if you select it, you will see your e-mail from both accounts, but all new mail will only show in the iCloud account, and if you choose to send a new message, it will default to your Gmail account as the from address.
So, now I get to keep my Gmail address, but get push notifications.
The other good thing here, is you can basically do the same thing on your Mac, and eliminate the issues with Google’s substandard IMAP implementation there too.