Google is irritating sometimes. Take the time they removed push notification support for Gmail for iPhone’s Mail app. Say you wanted to run all your mail through the stock app and not download third-party stuff – if you want instant Gmail, too bad. Google doesn’t let you.

Unless, of course, you know how to game the system. There are a couple creative hacks you can set up to make sure your messages come through on time to your Gmail without having to wait in 15-minute intervals. Here are the options for getting emails instantly.

Also See: Google’s New Translator App for iOS is Jam-Packed With Amazing Features

How to Get Gmail Push Notifications on iPhone

Option 1: Use a Puppetmaster account

This is a little hacky and complicated to set up, but here’s how it works. You’ll use a secondary iCloud account to send and receive mail through your Gmail account from an iDevice.

Fair Warning: This will make inbox management of your Gmail account from the desktop very bad. If you set this up, it’s basically transferring everything important to the iCloud account. That means no more Gmail in the browser – you’re better off using iCloud from a desktop app like Thunderbird.

To get a secondary iCloud account, go to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Add Account > iCloud > Create a new Apple ID. Follow the setup there.


Go back to Mail, Contacts, Calendars > iCloud > Mail > SMTP. Now we’ll set the iCloud messages to go through Gmail’s servers.

Tap “Add Server.” For Host Name, enter and your full Gmail username and password. It may take a while to verify.

Now tap iCloud SMTP Server and turn Server off, then Done. The Gmail server should be on. This will force all messages sent from that iCloud account to run through Gmail and look like they’re coming from your Gmail.

To set up receiving mail, just set your Gmail to forward all messages to your iCloud address. Open up a desktop browser and go to Gmail > Gear > Settings > Forwarding and POP/IMAP > Add a forwarding address.

Google will send a confirmation message to your iCloud email to make sure you want the forwarded messages. Open the message’s link to confirm. Go back into Gmail settings and select “Forward a copy of incoming mail to [your iCloud address] and archive Gmail’s copy. Then hit save changes.

Option 2: Use Gmail for iOS


I know, I know. You don’t want to use a third-party app. You’d rather run all your email accounts through the iOS Mail app. I get it.

If you don’t mind downloading something else, though, there’s always Google’s Gmail app for iOS. It does push notifications right out of the box, no setup required.

Option 3: Set up Gmail as an Exchange Account


This option is only available to paid Google Apps users. If you’re willing to pay Google for your Gmail domain, then it’s pretty easy to set up.

Go to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Add Account > Exchange. Enter your email account and password. Next the box will expand and ask for more info. In the Server field, enter:

Leave domain blank. In Username, enter your full email address again. Tap Next, choose what to sync, and the account should be ready.

To make sure you’re set up to receive push notifications, stay under Mail, Contacts, Calendars and go to Fetch New Data > (your Google Apps account). Under Select Schedule, “Push” should be checked. Everything should work after that. If you’re running into trouble, check Google’s help page.

Final Thoughts


It would be nice if Google didn’t make us jump through so many damn hoops just to have that instant gratification of knowing exactly when a new message arrives. Is it really so bad to support push on free accounts?

(Yes, because then Mountain View wouldn’t have a carrot to push people toward the Gmail app instead of Apple Mail. But I digress.)

The Exchange option for paid Google Apps users is pretty great, and I’d highly recommend it for your work email. By far the least amount of setup required there. Otherwise, try that alternate iCloud account. It’s that or wait 15 minutes.

Further Reading: How to Play YouTube Videos in the Background on iOS

  • These are pretty shit.

    • People without solutions be the quickest to complain…

  • Just remember that ActiveSync (Exchange account) push requires a connection from your device to Google constantly, whereas the “use the Gmail app” solution uses Apple push and therefore depends on an already existing connection from your device to Apple. It means there only has to be a few connections open from Google servers to Apple push servers, as compared to what could be millions of devices connected to Google servers.

    The ActiveSync solution now only being available to Apps users is a definite indication that Google wasn’t happy with the volume of connections from users that aren’t really paying anything. They can’t generate ad revenue from native mail clients either like they do in Gmail apps, but it sounds more like the decision was made for technical and not monetary reasons.

  • Rahul Gupta says:

    Hey, thanks for the post!
    I am a google app for work user. I have set it up through ‘Exchange Account’ on my iPhone and am receiving push notifications.
    Could you tell me how do I add alias in this exchange account ?

    • Hi,
      were you able to find out how to add alias with Exchange account?

  • Hannibal Smith says:

    What I do is have my gmail setup through iOS mail app for manual sync. I set up a folder that has the mail and gmail app so when I receive an email the gmail app notifies me instantly than I open the iOS mail app, it syncs than I can read on mail app. Works like a charm. I like it better this way as I have option to use either email app.

  • The option3 didn’t work for me….”the connection to the server failed”

  • BlackCharlie says:

    I think native Gmail app works fine under iPhone for Gmai push notification. Other than iPhone, here is some working solution to get Gmail push notification on platforms other than iPhone, such as Windows, Mac, and Android. Maybe you will be interested to take a look: 1. Chrome & Firefox & Safari under Windos & Mac 2. Gmail App under Android & iOS & Windows 3. Aura, a notification tool under Mac 4. EVO Collaborator for Outlook under Windows Outlook 5. Gmail Notifier Pro under Windows 6 Checker Plus for Gmail, a Chrome extension able to notify even when Chrome is closed! 7. MailTab for Gmail under OS X 8. Windows 10’s Mail app along with Notification and Action feature.

  • Option #3 has a HUGE problem…Gmail starred messages will not sync with the default iOS email app. If you setup your Gmail account as a regular Google account, you get the starred messages, but lose push notifications. There is no great solution for this, I’ve tried for years. Supposedly, push notifications is supposed to now work with iOS mail, but it doesn’t all the time.