How to Get the Best Gmail Features When You Have an Old Email Account

In Tech 911 this week – a column in which we offer sensible answers and explanations to your deepest and darkest technical misunderstandings – a Lifehacker reader wonders why she can’t access some of Gmail’s best features using a third-party email client (and not -Gmail address).

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I’ll let Lifehacker reader Andrea explain more:

“I have a problem with airmail and the support staff are stumped. I have scoured the internet and no one has a problem like mine. I use AirMail on both my Mac and iPhone. None of the features for storing emails from certain people or companies in my inbox work. This includes spam, blocking, mute and unsubscribe.

I know AirMail does not block spam, which is fine. This is done by my email provider. I just want to block regular senders who are real organizations and are not actively involved in fraudulent activities but do not respond to unsubscribe requests and are annoying. Mostly political emails.

At work, I use Gmail as my webmail and it blocks them perfectly. Maybe something to do with my email setup? My email provider is mainly in business, but I’ve been paying them $ 5 a month to keep my email since 1995. “

I found this a little confusing at first, but then I reread your letter and the answer became pretty clear. Your email service (, now and recently acquired doesn’t seem to fit well with Airmail’s conventions to mark emails as spam, block emails from you , mute conversations , etc.

To be on the safe side, I had a short chat yesterday with a support person at Airmail, and this is what they told me:

“Airmail does not have its own dedicated spam filter, so flagging as spam depends on the server of the email account you are using. If the server finds out that a specific email sender has a message marked as spam already in the spam folder, then it will work otherwise, it won’t. So it is completely server dependent and Airmail does not filter spam at this time. “

This is not quite the specific answer I was hoping to get from them, but the last line makes it clear. And if you look at the related support articles above for the blocking and mute functions, all of their examples include a bogus Gmail address.

This, in addition to this old Reddit comment about Airmail , makes me feel like these features depend on the email provider you are using. Since your primary email address comes from a lesser-known email provider rather than, say, Gmail, Airmail’s “mute” and “block” actions probably don’t affect anything on the side of your email provider. In other words, you get the basics of email via airmail, but that’s about it.

What can you do? I doubt that you will want to change the provider that you have had for the last 20 years. I know digital nostalgia is strong. What you can try – and I’m just trying to do it because it gets tricky – set up a new Gmail address and use Gmail’s ” Check mail from other accounts ” feature to import messages from your real email address.

You can then configure Gmail to use your mail provider’s SMTP server to send outgoing mail as if it came from your primary address. And once you’ve done that, you can set up Airmail with your bogus Gmail credentials.

After that, you will keep all the Gmail features (like mute, lock, etc.), but you will still be able to receive and send email from your primary email address and not from a dummy Gmail account. Hope. You may need to configure Airmail to use your ISP’s SMTP server and not Gmail, but I can’t confirm this since I don’t have Airmail – I’m cheap, what can I say.

Let me know if this doesn’t work or if you need more help, and I’ll be happy to help you complete the steps offline.


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