How to stop Gmail downloading thousands of emails to Mac Mail

Mac owners enjoy using Gmail for a good reason. This is a highly reliable mail service that efficiently wards off spam, filters out viruses and withstands hacking attacks. It provides its users with handy tools to manage their messages, such as labeling, configuring auto-responses and many more. Gmail downloading is quick, stable, and most important, free. However, it has a major drawback: when it starts downloading the contents of your mailbox to your Mac, it might take ages. In this article, you’ll find helpful recommendations on how to adjust your Gmail settings to avoid this unpleasant situation.

Gmail downloading

Why Does Gmail Download Messages to Your Computer

Opening Gmail as a page in your browser is not too handy. That’s why many users access their message through Mail or any other app that they find convenient. One of the crucial advantages of Google Mail consists in its capacity. This mailbox allows you to store tens of thousands of messages, accumulating them for decades together with all the files attached to them. The Gmail web page painlessly copes with gigabytes of information — but Mail or other apps can’t handle such bulky amounts of data that effortlessly.

The problem most often arises in the following situations:

  • You have just bought a new Mac
  • You have reinstalled the operating system
  • You are trying to synchronize the Gmail account that you have been using for ages with Mail or another similar app

In all these cases, your mail app will need to download the contents of your Gmail box. The more messages you have there, the more time it will take. While the download is in process, the productivity of your computer might decrease. You might fail to accomplish tasks as quickly and easily as you are used to.

Moreover, you might not need all these tens of thousands of messages that Mail would be downloading! Probably, it should be enough to synchronize only the correspondence of the last 1-2 years. Fortunately, you can adjust the settings of your mail so that the client downloads only that part of the content that you actually need. This will considerably save you time and nerves.

How to Check Through Mail How Large Your Gmail Inbox Is

Let’s assume that you have already syncronized your Mail with Gmail. To assess the volume of your Gmail inbox, follow these simple steps.

  1. Launch Mail.
  2. Find the Google inbox in the left column and right-click it.
  3. In the pop-up menu, select Get Account Info (it should be the last one in the list).
  4. In the Account Info window, proceed to the Quota Limits tab.

This tab will let you know the total size of your Google mailbox and the number of gigabytes that you have already used. Also, there will be a green bar displaying the percentage of free space in your Gmail box that you still have available. Below, you’ll see the inventory of your Gmail folders, the size of each folder and the number of messages it contains. This is exactly the same collection of messages that you can access through the Gmail web page. Now, let’s proceed to that web page and configure its settings.

How to Adjust the Settings of Your Gmail

Open as a page in your browser, enter your account and follow this algorithm:

  1. Click the gear icon in the right top corner.
  2. In a pop-up menu, click on Settings.
  3. At the top, select the Forwarding and POP/IMAP option.
  4. Near the bottom of the page, tick Limit IMAP Folders to Contain no More than This Many Messages.
  5. In a pop-up menu, indicate the desired number of messages: 10,000, 5000, 2000 or 1000.

Be default, you had the Do Not Limit the Number of Messages in an IMAP Folder ticked. After you disable this option and select the desired number of messages, your Mail or another similar app will download only this number during the next synchronization session. This process will take a maximum of a few minutes and won’t slow down the computer for too long.

As you see, it’s very easy to change the settings of your Gmail and it’s close to impossible to commit any mistake. At the same, the unsynchronized old messages won’t be lost by any means. They will still be stored in your Google mailbox and you’ll be able to access them at any moment through

How to Avoid Other Potential Troubles with Your Mailbox

Sometimes you might experience issues with Gmail, Mail or other mail solutions because of malware. It’s true that Gmail meticulously scans each message for viruses and successfully combats around 99.99% of malware. But in case your Mac is affected by malware, this might tell on your mailbox as well. You might start seeing annoying ads in your mail client that were not present there before. Messages might take longer to send or open. People might receive spam instead of the messages you sent them. Problems might be rather diverse but their solution will be identical: you should remove the virus.

Antiviruses of the latest generation detect potential hazards long before they target your device and ward them off. Their databases are regularly updated so that they learn to recognize even the newest and lesser-known threats. Many of them also have valuable additional features — such as ad blocks or tools for safe apps uninstalling. Such antiviruses will reliably protect your private data, prevent identity thefts and stop third parties from spying on you for commercial purposes.


Now you should be able to access your Gmail through Mail or another client avoiding the lengthy procedure of synchronizing the messages. The above-described step-by-step guidance is highly intuitive and doesn’t require profound technical knowledge. Each time you purchase a new computer, reinstall the operating system or synchronize a new Gmail account to a third-party client, the download procedure will take hardly more than a couple of minutes. To avoid any further problems with your mail, install a modern and powerful antivirus and keep it always enabled.



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