Help me organize my email after losing Gmail push on my iPhone
September 19, 2014 7:59 PM   Subscribe

As long as I've had an iPhone I've used the default email app, Mail, linked to my primary gmail address, along with my secondary gmail address that forwards to my primary mailbox. After upgrading my iPhone 5 to the 6, I've lost the ability to use an Exchange account for gmail so that new mail pushes to the Mail app. See here.

Now I'm struggling with how to proceed. I realize I have a few choices but at the moment none seem straightforward or as simple as the previous setup. I realize I may just have to adjust to a new way of managing my email but I'd like some help with that.

The first and most likely route is to use the Gmail app for iOS. In some ways it's superior to the default Mail app but in others I'm finding it frustrating. I'm primarily confused by the badge on the Gmail icon that appears to show hundreds of (presumably) unread emails. The default Mail app would only show a badge number when a new email came in, I'd read it and then the badge would disappear. I'm confused with where I'm supposed to find these hundreds of unread emails and worried it's going to be a chore to keep that icon "clean" of numbers on it as various messages come in throughout the day, many of them unimportant.

A primer on how to get my things in order and make the Gmail app usable and "clean" for a fresh start would be helpful.

Aside from that, does anyone know of a better alternative to the situation? How have you handled losing the push ability for gmail?

posted by arm426 to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
posted by bitdamaged at 8:00 PM on September 19, 2014

Response by poster: You can't use Push with IMAP, only Fetch.
posted by arm426 at 8:03 PM on September 19, 2014

Response by poster: The badge on my Gmail icon currently says 251. I have no idea where these 251 unread emails are.
posted by arm426 at 8:07 PM on September 19, 2014

I also thought I would miss the push of, but when I got kicked off, I just switched to 15 minute fetch and really haven't missed it at all. Maybe not the answer you were looking for, but it could work.

If it's really important to you, you could also pay the 50 bucks a month to upgrade to google apps for business and get back access.
posted by thewumpusisdead at 9:11 PM on September 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think the unread count includes email in your "all mail" inbox, whereas the Mail app only shows you the unread count in your inbox. In the gmail web UI, search for "is:unread" and mark all read to reset your badge?
posted by misterbrandt at 10:12 PM on September 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Frankly, I do not know if this is the answer to your question, since I don't have your problem. But I think it is. Use Mailbox. It's simple, easy, promotes an inbox-zero mindset that I like, and has a great UI. You can set it to push, and it's been flawless for me for a long time.

Biggest problem is that it shows all email in the inbox as the icon badge number, not unread. This is part of the inbox-zero mindset. But you can just archive everything in gmail as part of the setup. Then, it's so easy to set boomerangs on your mail (where it comes back into the inbox on an interval you set) that the badge icon really is useful.
posted by Pacrand at 11:26 PM on September 19, 2014

If it's really important to you, you could also pay the 50 bucks a month to upgrade to google apps for business and get back access.

a) that's only $50 a year per email address
b) it doesn't help bring back EAS to addresses.

If Google did let me pay for EAS on address, I'd pay the $50 a year. But they don't.

When I first lost EAS push gmail when my iPhone 5 was replaced under warranty, my workaround was to install the gmail app turn on notifications with banners on the home screen, but go read the actual email in the iPhone mail app. i just don't like the gmail app. However, after a while I stopped doing that and took the gmail app off my iPhone. Now I'm OK with seeing it every 15 minutes. If I'm anxious and expecting an email I can just open the mail app and it will go look for new mail when I open it.

A free way for push was to actually forward your gmail email to an (what hotmail/msn/live is calling itself). It does push for free and will push the email to you when it gets forwarded by google. However, what I never figured out what to do is make the replies work correctly showing it came from gmail. You could probably do something similar with an account.
posted by birdherder at 11:40 PM on September 19, 2014

Unless it's critical that you're advised the second you receive an email, I'd just reconfigure the mail app using the "gmail" setting and change the polling time to every 15 minutes.

You'll also notice an improvement in your battery life.
posted by mr_silver at 5:59 AM on September 20, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks for all of your suggestions. I'm going to experiment with some of them and see which works best for me.

One other suggestion I found after some googling was to use a service/website called NuevaSync which claims to allow you to setup an Exchange account for gmail and as a result let's you Push to iPhone. I set it up just like my old Exchange/gmail combo but with NuevaSync as part of it and it didn't seem to be pushing. If anyone wants to give that a try and is able to make it work like it used to, let us know here. Thanks again!
posted by arm426 at 8:55 AM on September 20, 2014

Best answer: There are two standard ways of doing push mail. IMAP IDLE (which google uses on IMAP) but which Apple doesn't support, saying it drains too much battery life; or Exchange ActiveSync, which Microsoft implemented for Exchange/outlook, but is patented. Google did used to pay Microsoft the fees for active sync (EAS) on gmail for free accounts, but no longer does - and as you've discovered, the grandfathered in scheme for extant users gets discontinued once you reset or set up a new device.

(The gmail app and icloud both use custom non-email standards for push; both borrowed from their messaging side of things, IIRC - the advantage of using your own custom API that doesn't have to interact with anyone else's servers)

So option A) is use an IMAP IDLE supporting email client on the iphone; but it won't be the default app, because apple won't allow you to.

option B) is to use the gmail app, but same problem.

option C) is to forward your gmail mail to a free exchange-based mail service that does use EAS - such as microsoft's own - and use that instead for push sync mail. Downside is you may also have to use that service for reading mail on non-iOS devices unless you want to cope with non-sync'd 'message read'. Not an issue if you use a full mail client otherwise (point that at your new mail account), but an issue if you use webmail; sending replies will come from your account on webmail, but on iOS and full mail clients, you can use gmail smtp to send mail from your 'real' account.

option D) same idea, but forward to an icloud email address, and sync that way - and use IMAP for non apple clients.

option E) same idea, but forward to a new google business account + domain, if you really like the gmail web interface, as you'll then get EAS support back.

option F) switch to non push IMAP mail, i.e. check every 15 minutes. Not ideal, but probably the simplest.

option G) switch entirely to a mail provider and new address that has EAS support, and just forward your old emails for legacy purposes. The amount that are both good and free is limited though, given the aforementioned patent licence fees.

option H) just for completeness, in future switch to a smartphone that supports either IMAP IDLE and/or a default mail client that isn't the built in one - pretty much anyone but Apple, basically.


To answer one of your other questions, the many unread messages showing up may simply be down to a number of old unread messages. I use the android gmail app, but it should be similar; EAS and IMAP default to indexing a recent subset such as last 30 days, while the gmail app will index (but not download) them all. If you go into the web version of, and do the 'more' dropdown, and then 'mark all as read' that should bring you up to date, with only new inbox messages showing up for notification in theory; on android, messages in the social, promotions categories etc don't create notifications or show on the widget I use.
posted by ArkhanJG at 9:47 AM on September 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

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