What Is the Gmail POP3 Server?

By Alex Gardner

Google Gmail is one of the top three most popular Webmail providers. Part of this popularity may be due to Gmail's affordability (it's free!), but another feature in Gmail's plus column is the service's flexibility. Not only can you access Gmail from your phone or any Web-connected computer, you can also use your favorite email client to send and receive Gmail messages in addition to or instead of using Gmail via the Web.

About Gmail

All Webmail services, including Gmail, share one hallmark feature: the ability to access your mail from any computer with a Web browser and an active Internet connection. If you're the sort of person who uses a desktop computer at home, a laptop when you're traveling and a third computer at work, then having a Gmail account makes it possible to stay connected wherever you are by launching your Web browser, visiting "http://gmail.google.com" and entering your username and password.

About POP3

POP3 (Post Office Protocol 3), defined by Network Working Group in 1988, is an Internet-based protocol that allows a client computer to access and dynamically retrieve email from a remote server. Put more simply, using a POP3-capable email program lets your send a request to your email provider's servers asking that any mail address to you be downloaded for viewing on your local computer. Most email clients, including Microsoft Office, Mozilla Thunderbird, and Apple Mail, can be configured to download email via POP3.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Using a POP3 Client to Access your Gmail

Arguably, the prime benefit of using POP3 to access your Gmail account is the ability to store a local copy of your messages on your personal computer. This offers peace of mind, allows you to stay below the allotted storage quota on Gmail and can offer the added security of removing your private data from the Web where it's potentially vulnerable to hackers and data phishing. On the other hand, removing your email from the Gmail "cloud" means it won't be accessible via Web browser, and won't be subject to backup unless you take steps to back up your computer on a regular basis.

Gmail's POP3 (and SMTP) Server Settings

To begin accessing your Gmail via POP3, you need to provide your email client with the necessary POP3 and SMTP addresses. Gmail's POP3 server address is: http://pop.gmail.comGmail's SMTP server address is: http://smtp.gmail.comThe POP3 server is used to download messages from Gmail to your computer, while the SMTP address is used to send mail out from your local machine. You must also enable POP3 forwarding in your Gmail account.