Adding Yahoo or Gmail to an Email Client

Most people these days have several email accounts

Locked mailboxTypically, most people have one or more “proper” accounts and one or more accounts that are used for less important stuff and for situations where they have been compelled to give an email address but haven’t wanted to give their “proper” one (perhaps because of fears of getting “spammed”).

It can be rather tedious having to log onto several different webmail sites to check all these accounts separately – especially if it’s just on the off-chance that there’s something new and important to be read. One of the benefits of using an email “client” (as opposed to using webmail) is the ability to add all your email accounts to the same place so that you can check all accounts at the same time instead of having to log onto different webmail sites.

Gmail iconHowever, if you try to add your Gmail account or your Yahoo account to Outlook or Thunderbird then it probably won’t work (initially). What’s more, you don’t get any proper indication as to why it doesn’t work. Instead, you will get misleading error messages suggesting that either your username or your password is incorrect. You may not even discover the reason by looking for help on the email provider’s website. Perhaps I should clarify that “Outlook” in this context means the email program from Microsoft and not the webmail service called

The reason it won’t work is almost certainly that your webmail provider thinks that the email program that you are using is “less secure” than using webmail and that it won’t allow the connection to be made until you explicitly instruct the webmail provider to connect your account to programs such as Outlook.

Yahoo Mail iconThe way that you do this is by opening up your webmail and looking in “Settings” (or “Options”) for a setting that says something to the effect of “allow less secure applications to access your email”. I know that this is the case for both Yahoo and Gmail and suspect that it may apply to other webmail setups. Below are instructions for changing the settings in Yahoo and Gmail. Hopefully, if you use a different webmail service, there is enough information here for Yahoo and Gmail for you to be able to find the equivalent setting in your own setup. After you have changed this setting, then go back to Outlook (or Thunderbird or whatever) and try again to set the account up there. It should then connect with no further bother.

In Yahoo, log into your webmail as normal and then:

  • Click on the cogwheel located at top right of your Yahoo webmail screen
  • Click on “Account Info”
  • Click on “Account Security” at the left of the screen
  • Jump through any security hoops that it sets up for you (such as making near impossible decisions about which squares on an image “include traffic signs”)
  • Go down to the last item on the screen (“Allow apps that use less secure sign in”) and slide the switch to the “on” position
  • Go back to Outlook (or Thundebird or whatever) and enter the account info again

In Gmail, log into your webmail in the normal way and then:

  • Click on the Settings cogwheel (near top right of screen)
  • Click on the “Settings” option
  • Click on the tab marked “Forwarding and POP/IMAP”
  • Under “IMAP access”, click the circle next to “Enable IMAP”
  • At the bottom of the list of options, click on “Save changes”
  • Go back to Outlook (or Thunderbird or whatever) and enter the account info again