When I’m out talking to friends I often get into a discussion about why XYZ in Gmail is not working right on their iPhone.  Of course the biggest advantage of having a smartphone is the ability to access your email and calendar while on the go. Google’s Gmail service is the most popular mail service out there. Because of this smartphone manufacturers have included the ability to easily configure your device to sync to your Google account. Configuring your iOS device is easy, although there are a couple of things to keep in mind. Once completed your iPhone or iPad will stay up to date with changes in your email, calendar and contacts. This means that if you add a contact from your phone, it will be available to you the next time you access your Gmail account from your computer, and vice versa. You will also be able to quickly schedule appointments while on the go and they will sync to your account.

When configuring your new iOS device, the first thing that you may notice when you click to setup email is that there is a dedicated Gmail button. While you may be tempted to click that button, don’t. There is a better way to configure your account according to Google. Why doesn’t this work? Configuring your account using that option does not sync your contacts. It will only sync the mail and calendar, and on some devices it will sync your notes. And having your contacts synced is probably the most important feature on a smartphone.

Google services are based on the Exchange Activesync protocol. This means that using the Exchange option to configure your account is the best choice. Syncing via Exchange will sync your email, calendar, and contacts.

To configure your device, do the following.

  1. Click the Settings icon on your home screen
  2. Click on Mail, Contacts, Calendars
  3. Click on Add Account…
  4. Click Microsoft Exchange
  5. In the Email field enter your Gmail account (username@gmail.com)
  6. Leave the Domain field blank
  7. In the Username field enter your Gmail username
  8. In the Password field enter your Gmail password
  9. In the Description field rename it to Gmail
  10. Click Next
  11. You will notice a Server field pop up, enter the server as m.google.com
  12. Click Next
  13. Ensure that Mail, Contacts, and Calendar are all turned on
  14. Click Save
  15. Click the Home button to exit the Settings screen

Your device will immediately start to sync your data. If you open the Mail application you will see that mail has started to populate. You should also check your Calendar and Contacts applications to make sure they are syncing.

If you use more than one Google Calendar, you will need to take one more step to choose the calendars that you want to sync.

  1. Open Safari and access http://m.google.com/sync/. You will see a listed of all the devices that have ever been synced to your Gmail account. If this is the first device, you should have only your current device listed as either iPhone or iPad.
  2. Click on your device
  3. Under My Calendar, check the box for each calendar that you want to sync to this device. You can choose up to 25 calendars. You will also notice that Shared calendars (calendars that others have given you access to) are available.
  4. Click Save
  5. Click the Home button to return to the home screen
  6. Open the Calendar app
  7. Click the Calendars button
  8. You should see a check box next to all of the calendars that you chose

Once that is configured, you can use the Calendars button to quickly toggle calendars off and on in your Calendar application. This allows you to view only one calendar at a time if you wish to clean up your current view.

Now, even after that is configured I recommend using the Google supplied Gmail app to read your mail. The built-in iOS mail tool is missing all of the bells and whistles. If using the Gmail app you have the added plus of being able to use the star feature, priority inbox, and all of the other goodies that Gmail offers. Visit http://m.gmail.com from your Safari browser and you should be prompted with a link to install the app.

Now go forth and make sure that your device is configured correctly!