A Gmail (Droid) Tip

Many people have switched over to Google’s Gmail service. But there are millions of folks like me who still use POP accounts from web hosts or ISPs. And this presents a problem for people with Android phones: how to get that POP mail on your phone.

Let’s be honest: while the Gmail client for Android is pretty slick, the native email app kind of sucks. And while there are several worthy replacements (like K-9 Mail, for instance), it’s kind of silly to have to use two different email apps on your phone.

The obvious solution would be to have Gmail pull the email from your POP account(s). But this presents two problems.

For one, Gmail only pulls POP mail every so often, using a secret algorithm that’s roughly based on how many emails the POP account receives. So a POP account that gets hundreds of emails a day might get checked every 20 minutes or so, while an account that gets a handful of email a day might only get checked once a day (or less!). This is unacceptable, because an important email might sit in your POP account, unchecked, for a couple of days before it’s pulled down to your phone.

Secondly, Gmail can suddenly stop pulling emails from the account for no good reason. In fact, this happened to me just the other day. It suddenly dawned on me that I hadn’t seen any POP emails in my Gmail inbox for several days. I logged in to Gmail from a desktop computer, and low and behold, the POP account settings said: “last checked 4 days ago”.

Fortunately, the fix was easy: instead of having Gmail pull email from my POP account, I flipped the whole thing around and set my POP account to push mail to Gmail!

Most every web host email account (and probably most ISP mail accounts) will allow you to log in to their webmail client and set up a rule which forwards every inbound email from your POP server to Gmail’s servers. In most cases, you’ll also have the choice to keep the email on the POP server for later retrieval (via Outlook, for example) or forward the email and delete the copy on the server… so choose wisely. Back on the Gmail side, you can also keep the “Send mail as” settings the same (or set it up with your POP server info) if you want to be able to have replies sent from Gmail with your POP server information instead of Gmail’s info.

What’s even better about this is that mail is sent from your POP server to the Gmail server immediately, so there’s no 15 minute or 5 hour wait as Gmail picks up the mail from your account. It’s just as fast as using Gmail itself on Android!


3 Replies to “A Gmail (Droid) Tip”

  1. Does this replace the original sender with your email? I don’t recall ever seeing this setting, got a screenshot?

    1. Either or. You can choose to have your Gmail address as the reply, or you can set it up to use your POP address (you can even choose whether to use Gmail’s SMTP servers or your own).

      Check your Gmail account for a screen cap.

  2. To clarify: you can choose to use @gmail.com as the reply address for all emails, or you can choose to have Gmail use the address to which the email was originally sent. So email sent to @gmail.com get the @gmail.com address, and emails sent to @domain.com get the sent using the @domain.com address (or not). And since the POP emails are forwarded at the server level, the header remains intact (so you can reply directly to senders, for instance).

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