Using Gmail With the Android Gmail App

Updated: March 15, 2017

Google Gmail is the post popular email service for Android users.

In this tutorial series we will look at setting up and using the Google Gmail App for sending and receiving email on Gmail.

Setting up the  Gmail App for Gmail Access

Because the Gmail App has been specifically designed to work with a Gmail account setting up the Gmail App to access your Gmail Account is very easy.

If you haven’t already configured a Gmail account, then when you open Gmail for the first time, it will prompt you to either use an existing account or to create a new Gmail account.

If you already have a Gmail account then you choose existing, and then enter your email Address and password. and the setup is complete. The setup is covered in this video.

If you don’t have a Gmail account then select new and you can create and add a new account. This video covers the steps, but it isn’t in Engl;ish.

Note: Because you will be required to fill out a form when you create a brand new Google account you might find it easier creating the account on a laptop or PC.

Gmail Overview

Before we look at the Gmail App itself, we will take a quick look at Gmail.

Probably the most important thing to understand is the way Gmail organizes email.

Gmail organizes email messages using labels and not folders. Labels are more flexible than folders, but from an end user perspective they actually appear the same.

In this tutorial we will use the terms label and folder interchangeably.

Gmail  has a number of default labels or folders that it uses for organizing your email. The main ones are:

inbox -The main location for incoming email

sent items – Contains a copy of emails that you have sent.

bin deleted items or trash -Goes by several names and stores email that has been deleted.You

Spam Junk Emails – Stores email that Google has marked as spam or you have manually marked as spam.

Drafts- Stores a copy of emails that you have created but haven’t been sent.

In most email clients all incoming email is placed in the inbox.

However Gmail will automatically assign category labels like promotions, social etc to incoming email, and place email into the appropriate category.

Opening The Gmail App

When you open Gmail you are automatically taken to the inbox Primary category.

The screen is split into two columns.

The narrow column on the left has icon links  to the promotions and social categories,and a link to view all inbox categories.

Gmail icons and Meaming

all-inboxesAll inboxes button /icon -This will display messages from all Email accounts and email categories. Very useful when using multiple email accounts.

primary-label--iconPrimary Category button /icon– Press this to display all messages from the primary category in the right hand column.

social-label-iconSocial Category button /icon – Press this to display all messages from the social category in the right hand column.

promotions-label-icon Promotions Category button /icon– Press this to display all messages from the promotions category in the right hand column.
Compose New Email button /icon- This appears at the bottom right of the screen (right hand column). Press to open a new email message form.

The image below shows the main screen.


The right column has a list of emails in the selected folder/label (shown at top of screen). You can place your finger in the right column and drag up and down to view more emails.

Pressing on an email will open it so you can read it.

You may also notice that a coloured circle appears next to each email.

The color is based on the label attached to the email.

To compose a new email press the pen icon on the bottom right.

The left column can be expanded to show the other folders/labels by either pressing the menu icon that appears in the top left or drag the left part of the screen to the right to make it wider.

Getting Familiar With Gmail App Settings

Before you start sending and receiving email it is a good idea to check and adjust your settings.

To access settings open the folder view and swipe down in the left column and the settings link is near the bottom.


Press settings and select the account, if you have more than one, the settings for that account will be displayed.

Inbox Type

Options are default and priority inbox. Priority inbox is an advanced user feature. It is set to default by default.

Inbox Categories

Categories sort email and are very useful when you receive lots of email. They are enabled by default but they can be confusing for beginners.

There are 5 default categories, but only three (primary, social, promotions) that are normally active by default.

When working in this mode your inbox is effectively split into 3 inboxes.


When viewing your inbox the category being displayed is shown at the top.


You can disable the tabbed category view in settings by selecting inbox categories.


Then deselect the social and promotions categories.



By default you are notified when new email arrives, usually by a sound, and also by a message in the notifications bar.

You can enable/disable notifications and change how you are notified.



An email signature appears at the bottom of every message that you send.

They are often used by businesses to include contact details e.g telephone number on outgoing emails.

There is no default signature. To create a signature press the Signature link and enter the text in the text box.


Note: This signature is different to the email signature that you configure on the web client.

Vacation Responder

This is commonly used in businesses, and when set it will send an automatic reply when a new email is received.

See this Google support article for more details.

Gmail Sync

This is probably the most important setting.

Sync is normally enabled by default. When enabled:

  • You will be notified of new email
  • Email will be downloaded to your device so that you can read offline.

If you disable sync then you get a warning sispalyed above the inbox. gmail-sync-disabled

You will also need to  manually have to check for new email by pulling down above the inbox.

Configuring Sync Settings

Because Android phones/tablets have limited storage emails aren’t stored on the device but are instead stored on the Gmail Email server i.e. the Internet.

However to enable you to work offline, and  to speed up access, your most recent emails are copied to your device (Synced) and stored in cache.

Note:  Cache is temporary storage used by an application

On Gmail the default sync setting is to store email from the last 30 days but you can adjust this period as shown below.


This setting means that if you are offline then you only have access to the last 30 days of email.

In addition only the Primary category,sent items and drafts  appear to be synced by default.


However if you are online then you have access to all of your email.

Manage Labels

The manage labels setting give you fine control of email sync. You can change the sync settings for each label individually including the ability to sync all.


In the screenshot above I have change the sync settings of my sent items to Sync ALL.

You can also enable/disable email notifications on a per label basis.


Accessing Multiple Email Accounts

You can use the Gmail App to access email from multiple email accounts.

You can access other Gmail accounts or email accounts from different providers as shown in the screenshot below.


To add a new account to the Gmail App go to Settings ( In the Gmail App) and under the existing accounts (see screenshot above) there is a link to add another account. Pres this link and you are prompted to select the account type.


Enter the setup details into the form to complete the setup.

Deleting an Email Account

If you no longer need access to an email account you can remove it from the Android App.

Go to Settings (main Settings) and select Accounts. A new screen opens with all of the account types


Select the account and press the menu icon (top right) and you will see a remove account option.


Common Questions and Answers

Q- Can I use the Gmail App to access a non-Gmail mailbox?

A- Yes

Q- Can I use Gmail to access Email from multiple email Accounts?

A- Yes.

Q- Is Gmail the default email App?

A- Usually you wont have a default email App. To check if an App is set as the default launcher go to Settings>Apps and select the App and go to the Launch by default section.

Q- How do I create a new Label?

A- You can’t create a new label in the Android App you need to use a computer. See Google support here.

Next –Using The Gmail App to Send and Receive Email

Related Tutorials and Resources:




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