Apple Mail giving 993 imap error for Gmail

I help a few friends with their Mac computers (well, and Windows and Linux computers too). Today a friend came to me with an odd issue. Since June 15th Apple Mail ceased connecting to her two Gmail accounts over IMAP. After working flawlessly for a few years, since that day a connection error was coming up. It stated that port 993 could not be connected to. I checked all the obvious things, and nothing worked. Disabling SSL didn’t help either. Mail would then complain that port 143 was not accessible.

In the Apple Mail > Connection Doctor, the error said:

Could not connect to this Google IMAP server. Check your network connection and that you entered the correct information in the Account preferences. Also verify that the server supports SSL. If it does not, deselect the "Use SSL" checkbox in the Advanced tab of the Account preferences.

Clicking the exclamation icon in Mail next to each account would should this error:

The server returned the error: The server "imap.gmail.com" cannot be contacts on port 993.

The solution

Normally IMAP for Gmail uses the server address imap.gmail.com. That’s what Google says to use, it’s what I use. I am sure it’s what just about every Google IMAP user uses. However, changing it to imap.googlemail.com resolved this SSL / port 995 error. I can’t say why, and further searching on the Internet has not given me any clues. But it worked, so if you’re having the same error, give this a try.

Failed “solutions”

Based on suggestions I found online, and my own troubleshooting, the other things I tried were:

  • Changing the DNS servers (tried 8.8.8.8 which is Google’s free public DNS server. Previously the OpenDNS servers were being used)
  • Reverting to having SSL turned off (which reverts to port 143)
  • Restarting Mail
  • Renewing the DHCP lease (under TCP/IP options in the network connection preferences)

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18 Comments

  1. Thank you so very very much! I have tried all the other “solutions” but of course they all failed. Now I can finally use Mail again! Actually, for some odd reason Mail would always work for the first time after I had restarted my computer or had it totally switched off. As soon as it went to ‘sleep’ it refused to work again. Although I have always been able to send mail out, just couldn’t receive any.

    • Hi Kirsty,
      Let me know if it works permanently. I’ve notice that on the friend’s computer which I applied this fix, it seems to die every day or so. I then have to revert back to imap.gmail.com (which continues to fail) and then back to imap.googlemail.com, which then immediately works for another do or so. It is VERY strange.

  2. I have looked everywhere for a solution and like you have tried all of the “failed solutions”. Many solutions have worked temporarily, but none have completely and permanently resolved the issue. I hope this continues to work, so far so good. It is so frustrating to have your mail settings remain unchanged for years only to have these kinds of issues arise out of the blue. If this works as a permanent fix, you are the man!

    • Hi David. Please let me know if it works for you. The Macbook Air on which I implemented that fix continued to have intermittent issues with Mail and Gmail IMAP. I understand from the owner it now fails permanently to connect to Gmail IMAP. No idea why. Nothing was changed. Very strange. Worked fine for two years, then bam… no go.

    • Yes, me also. I get the feeling I’ll end up doing a clean install on my friends computer of OS X 10.9 Maverick when it comes out, and I suspect that will resolve the issue.

  3. Thank you. I’m on Mavericks and just ran into this problem and changing from imap.gmail.com to imap.googlemail.com did the trick. I can’t believe that works…

    • Hello Rachel,
      You should be able to use the IMAP server address for incoming and outgoing emails, and still end up with a copy on your local computer.
      I’ll need to know more about what you’re trying to achieve, and how, to help much more.

  4. Very strange, but yes it works. I suddenly, over this weekend, started noticing that my gmail IMAP accounts weren’t working. The POP accounts still work. The Connection Doctor was saying “Could not connect to this Google IMAP server…”. I could not pinpoint anything I had done to cause this. Changing the server names from imap.gmail.com to imap.googlemail.com fixed it immediately.
    Thank you.

    • Great. I am glad it worked for you. I have no idea why Google IMAP suddenly starts needing that server address in some cases, despite nothing changing on the users side of things.

  5. changing to imap.googlemail.com didn’t work for me (iMac 2.8 Intel Core i5, 10.6.8). Have had intermittent trouble over the last year, latest error came 2 weeks ago and I haven’t found a fix yet.

    • Sorry to hear that, and sorry that I can’t be of further help. I am using Mavericks, and as this issue is quite likely an Apple Mail issue, the solution on 10.6.8 may be entirely different. I only tried this solution on 10.7 and 10.8, as far as I recall.

  6. I too am using 10.6.8 and can not resolve the timing out on the gmail email issue. How do I let Apple know of this mail problem or is it just time for me to buy a newer computer? mcv

    • Before being a new computer (to resolve this issue), I suggest trying out Thunderbird for OS X. It’s a decent email client that you can use in place of Apple Mail. There are numerous other options too.

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