Email on Android – Gmail, The New Outlook

UPDATE: New post that clarifies the content below: Setting Up Work or Personal Email on Android with Email App

I often speak to new android users who are having a problem figuring out how to best set up their email, contacts, and calendar. The purpose of this post is to clarify how to best utilize your android device.

The overall vision: When you get an Android device you are making a small commitment to Google. Android is a mobile platform created and maintained by Google. In the past you might have had a palm device, windows mobile device, blackberry, or iphone. Each has its own unique platform and is designed to work differently. With Android you need to transition to using Gmail, Google contacts, Google Calendar, and Google Docs. This transition should be painless and frankly wise. Unlike your palm desktop or outlook software you will be able to access all your important information from anywhere in the world with internet access and unlike Apple’s MobileMe it won’t cost you a thing. Let’s look at each component and how you can make the transition the least painful.


Email: Right now you may be using a combination of webmail addresses (hotmail, yahoo, etc), and professional address ( Your Android device comes with the default Gmail app and another email app. You will at first be tempted to setup all your non-Gmail email accounts in the email app using the pop3 settings just like you would for outlook. This is a mistake because the email app on Android isn’t very good and because it will mean continuing to login to multiple accounts from your desktop every time you want to check your email.

Instead take advantage of the Android’s strengths by logging into your Gmail account and going to the “Accounts” tab in the settings. Here you can setup up to 5 other pop3 or Imap accounts to arrive in your Gmail. Check the box that gives you the option to reply with the same email address instead of the default one. By doing things this way you have turned your Gmail into an Outlook. All your email from different accounts will be routed into your Gmail inbox both online and in your android. When you reply to emails it will show your email address as the one that the email was sent to and not necessarily your Gmail address. This is a good thing!

Contacts: Its important to maintain all your contacts and address book when you change to your Android device. If you currently have your contacts in Outlook, or any other software export them in csv format. This is a standard feature that even yahoo mail offers. Then go into your Gmail and click on “contacts.” Select the option to import and upload the csv file. Presto, all your contacts are now in your Gmail account and on your Android device!

Calendar: Much like your contacts your calendar can be exported in a csv file from outlook and then uploaded into Google Calendar. Just like Gmail and Gmail contacts, your Google Calendar will auto-sync to your Android device. If you can’t survive each day using Google Calendar alone you can download Google sync software for free and set your outlook or Ical to auto-sync with Google Calendar which will in turn auto-sync with your Android device.

Notes & Documents: Google Docs is an amazing online service that comes free to any Google Account holder. Navigate to to get started. You can upload or create new excel, word, powerpoint docs etc. Its really an amazing interface. To access these files on your Android device download the “Gdocs” app from the market. This is currently the only decent app for Android to access your Google docs from your phone. You can even create new docs right on the phone and them upload/sync them to your Google docs account. Its also important to note that you do not need the Gdocs app to view/edit your online Google docs. You can just open your Android browser and navigate to the mobile Google docs webpage which is very impressive.

The transition to android should be painless.

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  • Dave

    I found this link while searching and it does work.

  • TheShade

    Nice article. But i would never say that GMail is the new Outlook. Gmail pales in comparison. Business people tend to only use gmail by force – in other words, we have no choice. I am still holding out hope that someone will come up with an email app that effectively syncs with outlook. The highest rated app, available now for a steep price, is basically worthless. Bummer. WM devices, though i am glad i switched to android, are FAR superior when it comes to email and syncing with outlook.

    Thanks for the article! I am sure it will help many with the culture shock of having to take a “step down” when it comes to emails, contacts, calendar, etc.

    • john francis Dr

      Hi Jacob

      I have recently been given a Android pad and it works wonderfully except I do not wish to change all my Outlook addres to Gmail …buttyhat is all it ofers me
      Is there an easy way for an IT idiot like myself who knows nothing abgout It to change my normal email address on my Android and get rid of Gmail thank you
      6th January 2014

      • Jacob S Paulsen

        John, I guess a bigger question would be about your email client. If you are using Gmail or Google Apps then I think you need to abandon Outlook entirely for Google’s interface. If you are using Microsoft’s newest email exchange system then it wouldn’t make much sense to use Gmail.

  • TheShade

    I am checking out the link Dave posted. Thanks, Dave. Fingers crossed.

  • Phil in KC

    So what do I do with the 4GB of e-mail I have in existing .pst files – in multiple folders? I have found no way to import all that as-is.
    I bought a Galaxy Tab 10 and returned it because I could not import my mail files. Also, while I could connect to the pop server to download mail, I could not send (i.e, upload to the SMTP server – even though I had it configured). My main reason for buying the Galaxy was to have a portable device for reading mail and surfing the web. I still have my big WIntel laptop for everything else.
    I know you think I should just make the switch to gmail, but I’m not as sold on all things Google as you are. I have used Google docs and Google calendar for a group I belong to and I don’t find them to be all that great. And quite frankly, I’m not willing to just lose all my historical data.
    That said, I do have a Galaxy S phone and like it very much. But – again – I’m not using it for mail or that sort of thing. Nor is it my main mp3 player.

    • Jacob S Paulsen

      Fair enough Phil. Google does have a mail uploader tool that will push all of your files up to Gmail but I appreciate that the full transition may not be best for everyone!