Using IMAP with GoDaddy email accounts

Setting up GoDaddy IMAP email

I really enjoy using GoDaddy for my domain and hosting provider. However, there has always been one aspect of their services that gets on my nerves: email. Let me count the ways:

  1. Their email services limit SMTP forwarding to 250 times per day (that is how many emails you can send each day.)
  2. Each mailbox only can store up to 10 MB, unless you pay extra.
  3. You cannot use IMAP with their accounts, only POP3 or the website-based email.

Fortunately, I found out today how overcome all of these problems in one felled swoop. To summarize the process, you use Google Apps instead of the GoDaddy email system. GoDaddy lets you set all the nitty-gritty details of your account settings, including how your email is handled. There is a nice tutorial how to do this here:

Or, if you don’t want to follow the instructions at the site above, then you just create a Google Apps account at , enter your domain name, go to the “Dashboard” page, click on the “Activate email” link, and follow the directions.

Another great reason to do this is because now you’ll have all the benefits of having a Gmail account, but with your own domain’s email addresses instead of addresses. I have never owned a Gmail account, and I still don’t. Yet I use many of Google’s online applications: the search tool on my website, my personal calendar, and now to maintain my domain-specific email addresses. And yes, that means that I now get the same amount of email storage space for each account as someone with a Gmail account gets (over 6 GB at the time of writing this), unlimited SMTP forwarding, and IMAP access via my email client (I use Mozilla Thunderbird.) And all of this is for free! Who would’ve thought such a thing would be so readily available to the public?
Kudos to Google! They may be getting massive and over-controlling of many things, but there are still treating their customers well.

32 thoughts on “Using IMAP with GoDaddy email accounts”

  1. Hey, just saw this article, and wanted to say thanks for listing my tutorial about Godaddy to Google Apps.

    Feel free to write about any articles on my website that you want to, if you have any advice on some Web apps or programs that you use, let me know. I am always looking for new toys to play with on my computer. Although the last one I was testing crashed my computer…. oh well, it’s the price you pay for getting the most out of your computer.

    Well keep up the good work, and good luck with the Baby! (One of my Bad habits to read About Me pages 🙂 )

  2. To quote the GoDaddy website:

    “To change your POP account to an IMAP account, you must have the unlimited email plan with IMAP.”

    Go take a look at the different email plans that GoDaddy offers. Only GoDaddy’s higher-end email plans offer IMAP support. Nobody wants to pay that much when you can get even more space and features from other free email services, like Gmail.

    The “Personal Email Plan” that GoDaddy offers does not support IMAP, and so you get around that by following the steps in my post above. The “Personal Email Plan” is the one that comes free with any paid hosting account from GoDaddy, and is therefore very commonly used.

  3. This worked terrifically. My godaddy email account was old and POP3 and could not be converted to IMAP (would have needed a new account). Using Gooogle Apps I now have perfect IMAP email synch between Outlook on my laptop, Gmail and iPhone. Rather than follow all the instructions on this site I used the GMail App set-up instructions on their site which were very good. My only problem is that I could not work out a way to fetch old email from Godaddy once I had set up the email accounts on Google Apps.

  4. GT, I’m glad this worked so well for you.

    I also had to fetch my old emails from GoDaddy, but it was fairly easy. I already used Thunderbird (it would have also worked for Outlook) for my POP3, and so I simply added my new IMAP account and only had to drag-and-drop the old emails to the applicable IMAP folders. If you didn’t use Outlook or Thunderbird (or other email client) to keep a local copy of your emails, then you should still be able to get your old emails by downloading via POP3, exporting, or some other way; and then copy them to your IMAP folder using drag-and-drop, import, or some other method.

  5. Just catching this now as I’m trying to do resolve this whole limitation with Godaddy email. Which version of Google Apps are you using?

    1. FYI- the “Team Edition” for google apps is free if you can find a link to the signup… its not listed anywhere on their apps site. Good luck.

  6. Thanks for this. I just got a job at a site that uses godaddy email and thought they were nuts using pop3, so I tried to convert a few users to imap and was going nuts trying to figure out why it wasn’t working.

    I too intend to switch them all to Google apps.

  7. Good luck, Weave. I’m sure your users will like the Gmail-based solution, especially since they have very little that they need to adjust to (i.e., only the backend will have changed, so they can still use their same email client.)

    A quick note: I just noticed that the Howbits link in my article is no longer valid, so I have updated it so it does indeed point to Howbits’ how-to article.

  8. webadmin,

    I believe the two things to which you are referring are unrelated. I think that when you talk about “MMS Blog needs PHP’s IMAP extension to funtion”, this is referring to a built-in PHP ability to do IMAP. Additionally, I would suspect that anything that supports IMAP (such as PHP) would be able to connect to Google’s IMAP. Whether Joomla uses that functionality or not is irrelevant, you probably just need to make sure you are using the right PHP functions and the right IMAP settings.

    Since I’m not sure what you’re looking for, I can only suggest that you try the following links, or do a web search for related topics.

    1. You will not be able to keep using the GoDaddy/Secureserver email client for new email messages. The procedure in my post basically tells your host to use a different server (Google) to handle your emails. No new emails will go to your old (GoDaddy/Secureserver) account.

      I don’t remember for sure, but I think your GoDaddy account will retain all of your old messages.

      To copy all your old emails over, first you need to save all of your emails to your computer. The way I did for my own account was to use an email client on my computer (like Thunderbird or Outlook) and connect to the old account using POP3. POP3 automatically saves your emails onto your computer when it retrieves the messages. Make sure you configure your old account and your email client to NOT delete the messages from the server when it downloads them via POP3 (so you can keep them there in case this process messes up at some point). I used the Thunderbird client (it would have also worked for Outlook) for my POP3. Next, add your new gmail IMAP account to the same email client on your computer. You should now be able to see both accounts on your client, and you should only have to drag-and-drop the old emails to the applicable IMAP folders.

      If you haven’t used Outlook or Thunderbird (or other email client) to keep a local copy of your emails, then there might still be some other way to get your old emails by exporting from GoDaddy and then importing them to Gmail, but I don’t think that there is a good way to export/import other than using an email client to copy them like I described.

  9. There is no free lunch. Google simply does not charge $ for their low end services, which is not “free”. You’re just unaware of how Google makes money.

    It’s very expensive as in speech. They consider any information that you cause to transmit through their hands to be “voluntarily disclosed”.


    1. Thanks for the comment. I have not heard of the issue of “voluntary disclosure” with Gmail before. Whether or not it is worth the price (“as in speech”, as you put it) comes down to the individual: who they are and what the email is used for. Of course Gmail will be inappropriate for many settings, which is why most corporations and governments make sure they have a tighter handle on their own email systems and do not use free online email systems. However, many benefits of Gmail are undeniable and have changed how we all interact and how useful the internet can be. Most things in life have trade-offs, and Gmail fits the bill for most individual end-users.

  10. Thanks for this informative posting. I was unaware on the Google Apps features, and I was struggling with the GoDaddy free emails accounts limited capabilities (starting with the storage space). I’ve updated the MX and CNAME entries in my dns configuration on GoDaddy so no work on the email clients need to be done.


  11. One thing that I’ve discovered: if you’re using a shared plan you are not able to send emails via the google smtp server from withing the godaddy hosted site. This is not a major issue, as you can still use the godaddy relay server (, but you won’t have those emails in your gmail account; a simple workaround for this is to add a bcc entry with the sender address, this way the email is also delivered into your gmail account. And if you’d like having that email into the “Sent Mail” folder instead of Inbox, just remove the “Inbox” label from that email (the email is already placed into the sent folder, removing the label keeps things clean)

    1. Thanks, that is good info to know and a clever workaround. I hadn’t tried sending email from my hosted site using the Gmail SMTP server, but I’m sure I would have hit the problem somewhere down the road.

  12. How is this different from having Godaddy forward emails to a Gmail account that has IMAP enabled? I already have several email accounts on a basic plan through Godaddy that I want to have switched or forwarded to IMAP accounts so my Thunderbird client can run on a network. What would be the best solution in this case? Thanks for your response.

    1. If you simply forward emails to your Gmail then you would still have to log into your GoDaddy email to send emails from your custom domain email address. That is inconvenient because you are then only really using Gmail as a client to only view your emails.

      It is better if you use the instructions in my post above because then your domain’s email service is actually handled entirely by Gmail. There is no email forwarding required – your custom domain email address essentially is your Gmail service.

      Your Thunderbird client will run just fine by connecting to Gmail’s IMAP servers. I would recommend not using a client at all unless you will often need to access your old messages during times when you do not have internet access. I only access my Gmail service as a web app because I can access it from anywhere and do not have to install additional software on my computer.

  13. From privacy point of view, the moment you enter the google’s reign, your emails will be scanned for advertisement purposes, of course google will say “dont worry, we scan everyone, you will be anonymous”. If you have a domain and use your host provider’s system, you better stick to it. Of course, if you dont care about your privacy, your mails are being read and when you delete a mail, actually google doesnt delete it for some purposes, happy gmail days.

    FYI: www{dot}gmail-is-too-creepy{dot}com

    1. Who would care if Gmail’s bots are scanning the content of emails? Its not a dirty old man reading all the juicy news about you and your girlfriend. This just helps them to better target ads to you. If I write a lot of emails about cars, why would I want to see an ad about diapers? Thank you for the service Google!

      1. I agree, but for some reason a lot of people think that their emails should be able to contain incriminating material about themselves (even if they don’t have questionable material in there) and they see ad-based email snooping as a threat. Even CEOs get caught up in this false belief – and companies almost always do scan emails for illegal activity (and no one questions companies’ legitimate rights to snoop their internal emails).

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