I’ve been the proud owner of a Windows Phone since October 2010. For the majority of that time it has enabled me to access emails from my Hotmail account (where my contacts and calendar are also synced) as well as some self-hosted emails under my own domain name.
However, due to a severe spam issue (and to take the storage load away from my PC) I decided to migrate my email accounts to Google Mail. This has had an interesting effect on my ability to collect messages on my Windows Phone.
While it isn’t a problem to set up a Gmail account if your email address ends in @gmail.com, the situation is a little different for Windows Phone users if they’re trying to access an email service that uses Google Mail but has its own domain name.
Setting Up a Standard Gmail Account on Windows Phone
If you’re in possession of one or more standard Gmail account this can be setup with relative ease on a Windows Phone. From Windows Phone 7.5 onwards contacts and calendars can also be fully synced.
Setting up a Gmail account means opening Settings > Email + accounts and selecting +add an account. From here, select Google, enter the email address and password and tap Sign in.
Over the course of the next few minutes (depending upon your connection speed), your phone will download recent messages (go to Settings > Synchronization settings to change this period) and synchronize any relevant contacts and calendar items.
Dealing with Issues Syncing
At least, that’s what’s supposed to happen.
Unfortunately when it comes to syncing a Gmail account with Windows Phone, there are a couple of problems that you might face.
The first, and most common, is the captcha issue.
Problems arise because Windows Phone doesn’t have an option to enter the Google captcha puzzle solution. As a result, the entered credentials might be correct but no mail can be synced.
Fortunately there is a simple way around this. First, ensure your Gmail account is setup with the correct credentials on your Windows Phone.
Then, head to the Google Captcha Unlock page at: https://www.google.com/accounts/DisplayUnlockCaptcha Once there, click Continue, and on your phone tap the Synchronise button. With the captcha unlocked manually through the browser your Windows Phone can then successfully sync with Google Mail!
If this doesn’t work first time, delete the Gmail account on your phone (Settings > Email + accounts, tap and hold the offending account and select Delete) and set it up again.
The other problem potential problem you might encounter is an issue with your phone’s connectivity. Naturally this will prevent syncing so you will need to connect to a mobile or local Wi-Fi network to complete synchronization.
Syncing a Hosted Gmail Account
If you have migrated the email account from your own domain to Gmail, you may run into problems setting it up on Windows Phone.
Fortunately, again, there is a way around this.
If you’ve approached the matter of setting up your account by selecting and opening Settings > Email + accounts > +add an account and selecting Other account, you’re approaching the problem in the wrong way. Indeed, you’re actually creating the issue!
You only need to select Google and setup the account as if it were a standard Gmail email, entering your email address and password as normal (i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org).
Note that the instructions concerning the captcha page above may also be required in order to successfully setup this account.
Setting Up Gmail Accounts on Windows Phone: Easy!
Getting your Gmail account configured and syncing on a Windows Phone is one of those tasks that should be simple, can be simple if you’re lucky, but also extremely frustrating if you run into problems.
Deleting the account and retrying with the captcha puzzle disabled is a very good fix that should resolve the issue for the majority of users.
In the end, however, the issues are down to an incompatible approach to authentication between Microsoft and Google, something that should improve in future with Windows 8’s use of the tile-based user interface seen on Windows Phone.