How To Set Up Email on an Android Device

Your Android has the potential to become your portable office, but not without access to organized email. If it seems like mobile access to email communication is taking over, that’s because it is. 67.2% of users view email on their smartphones—research by Blue Hornet. You don’t have to feel left out, though, because efficient email usage via Android is easily within your reach.


These acronyms may be old news to you, in which case, feel free to add your insights to the comments below. If you have only a vague notion of what these mean, or have never seen them before, this is for you. One of the basic functions of email is to receive messages; however, this can be carried out by using a few different approaches.

IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) is commonly used in web-based email services such as Gmail, Yahoo, and, although these providers supply the option to use POP as well. POP stands for “Post Office Protocol”; and is definitely not a new technology, but is certainly not obsolete either. Like most things in life, each has advantages and disadvantages.

If you are using IMAP, you are allowing a remote server to handle all of the heavy lifting and storage while your browser or application can focus on user interface interactions. In fact, you don’t have to have an application to access your email at all; a browser will suffice. That remote server has to service a lot of people and accounts, though, so you could be subjected to a storage limit.

Alternatively, if you download all of your emails to your computer, the sky, and your bandwidth is the limit. This is how POP is handled. Since the emails are copied to your device, the remote server can be freed from its storage tasks, and it will delete them. This is not as common in our instant-access-anywhere society, but it still has its uses.

Mobile device processing power and storage continues to improve and amaze, but quite often, it makes far more sense to handle these aspects of email on a remote server. POP bandwidth can definitely be a problem on a smartphone.

Utilizing Everything Your Email Has to Offer

At one point, I had 5,984 unread emails in my Inbox. I clearly had an organizational and, perhaps, even a hoarding problem. (I could have been a TV star!) The email options we’ll discuss will give you several methods to organize, customize, and automate your accounts.

Mobile email can vastly improve your productivity and efficiency, but it’s best to optimize it to fit your personal needs. Quite often, the best way to discover what your apps are capable of is to explore and play. I will be using a Motorola Droid Turbo to provide examples.

Method 1: Set up Gmail

Google, like any business, is a self-promoter of its products. That is why it’s entirely probable you already have Gmail installed on your Android. Do you remember the first time you connected to the Internet from your phone?

If you already had a Google Account, you needed only to sign in. If you used your pre-existing Gmail, your phone should have already synchronized with that account. Like any email that uses IMAP, if you have logged out, simply log back in and your original Gmail account will be restored.

To locate your Gmail, open your App Drawer and find Gmail in the “G” section, but don’t be distracted by the generic “Email” App in blue. We’re saving that one for later. The one you are looking for is an envelope outlined in red. Now let’s make it yours.

Step 1: Gmail

Select Your Email (Inbox) Tab from the “Settings” Menu.

To get to the “Settings” menu, look for the gear icon.


Step 2: Settings Menu

Specify whether you would like to continue receiving emails in chronological order (Default) or whether you want Gmail to try and learn what types of emails are the most significant to you. That way it can place these at the top (Priority).

Priority can be wonderful, but I would advise caution in the beginning; emails can slip through the cracks until Gmail learns your habits. You will still need to monitor all emails.

Settings Menu

Step 3: Inbox Type

Identify Your Inbox Categories.

If you use social media, your email notifications can become unwieldy very quickly, and may bury other types of emails. Select “Social” to give these messages their space. If the absence of these notifications will leave your personal emails looking like a lonely and desolate place, deselect “Social.”

Do you like wading through advertising? If you would like to relegate marketing to its own separate domain, check the “Promotions” box.

If you feel that it’s wrong for your eBills to occupy the same space that the emails from your Grandma are in, you can check “Updates.”

Finally, you can have your own separate category for online discussions by tapping on the “Forums” checkbox.

If you have starred important messages that you would like to remain in your primary inbox, leave the “Include in Primary” box checked.

Inbox Type

Step 4: Inbox Categories

Decide whether you want to be notified every time an email arrives. You can still choose to ignore that email, but this makes it optional and keeps you aware. If the noise of an incoming email is irritating, but you still want to hear all other types of notifications, uncheck this box…

…or, continue to Step 5.


Step 5: Notifications

Fine tune your notification preferences by entering “Inbox sound & vibrate.”


Step 6: Fine Tune

Set Up Your Email Signature.

Empower your email with your contact information, and perhaps an inspirational quote, by setting up your email signature.

Fine Tune

Step 7: Signature

Gain awareness of the “Vacation Responder” option. Or, if you are already on vacation and/or have scheduled an upcoming getaway—we’re all jealous—and here’s how you set up Auto-Reply.


Step 8: Vacation Responder

Check out General Settings.

These settings involve all Gmail accounts on your Android. You will be presented with choices such as to archive or not to archive, to modify swipe behavior, display contacts’ images, etc.

Vacation Responder

General Settings

Method 2: Set up Yahoo Mail

I think it’s probably fair to assume that Yahoo, too, would like to be your email provider. You can use your browser to access this email or Yahoo Mail also offers its own app.

Step 1: Yahoo

Tap the Menu button in the uppermost left corner to display the left column.


Step 2: Menu Button

Create Folders to Organize Your Email.

No, it isn’t already done for you as it was in Gmail, but it’s easy to add, and you get to name your own categories.

You can also use the “Filter” option under the “Tools” menu to direct incoming emails to particular folders. This process will be based on keywords that you set up.

Menu Button

Step 3: Folders

Tap on Mail Settings.

This is where you can manage your “Inbox View”, “Notifications”, and perhaps other functions such as synchronizing Yahoo contacts.


Step 4: Mail Settings

Designate How You Want Your Messages to Appear in Your Inbox with “Inbox View.”

For instance, you can choose whether to display one line of a message through “Message Preview.”

Mail Settings

Step 5: Inbox View

Tailor Your Notifications.

This does offer breaking Yahoo News notifications as well.

Inbox View

News Notifications

Take note of where you would go to clear your cache.

Are you having problems loading web pages or pictures? Try clearing your cache.

News Notifications


Method 3: Set up Exchange ActiveSync

Microsoft Exchange itself is a proprietary product, and it even has its proprietary protocol—MAPI, which is somewhat like the IMAP and POP protocols above. This type of protocol (agreed upon communication rules, if you will) permits apps to exchange information with Microsoft’s dedicated servers. It also allows synchronization of emails, contacts, calendars, and notes (so you don’t have to start over or enter them in manually) as well as the storage of messages in local folders.

In short, it’s Microsoft’s own blend of IMAP and POP-type capabilities. Its usage is common in business settings. Follow the instructions below to set up your account on your Android:

Step 1: Add Your Account

You can go into your settings app, tap on “Accounts,” and then select “Add Account.” This will be an “Exchange ActiveSync” or  “Corporate” account.

You can also go into the blue general email icon mentioned earlier.

Step 2: Enter Your Exchange Email and Password, Then Hit “Next.”

Regardless of how you completed Step 1, all of the following steps are the same.

Step 3: Complete the Settings

You will be asked for your Domain/Username, your password, and the Exchange Server name (the URL for the webmail interface).

Step 4: Specify SSL Security Settings

I would highly recommend checking the “Use secure connection (SSL)” and “Accept all SSL certificates” boxes, unless otherwise directed. Move forward with the “Next” button.

Step 5: Tell the App Your Personal Preferences

You can advise ActiveSync how often you want it to check for messages, as well as those items you would like to synchronize.

Step 6: Provide Account Names

Name your account and specify how you would like outgoing mail to display.

Step 7: Make it Your Own

You are all done with set up, which did require a little more effort than Gmail or Yahoo, but is was still manageable. Now you can organize and customize.


Email has been around for a while; the earliest version far preceding the Internet. People find the ability to send and receive written messages in an electronic format to be extremely useful. For many in the business world, it’s an expectation.

If these methods aren’t for you, look at the other email apps for Android we’ve previously covered. Also, are you tired of having to type all of your written communications on your Android? Check out the best talk to text apps.

Questions? Comments? Give us your feedback!

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