Using Thunderbird with Gmail and OAuth2

I’ve been using the Mozilla Thunderbird e-mail client for … a long time. Google has had a “Less secure apps” policy, where you explicitly have to enable a setting to allow external access to things like e-mail over IMAP, and so on. Google has also been warning their users about upcoming changes, where clients that cannot authenticate using “secure methods” (such as OAuth2), will no longer be able to access things like e-mail over IMAP.

Fortunately (for me), Mozilla Thunderbird can handle this just fine 🙂

Incoming settings

Make sure you are using IMAP and not POP3. Go to your account settings. Go to server settings. You should see the IMAP settings (imap.gmail.com:993, etc). Make sure connection security is set to SSL/TLS. Set the authentication method to OAuth2 and re-start Thunderbird. You will be prompted with a Google Login Page. Enter your credentials for the account. Once Google has successfully verified the credentials, it will tell you that Thunderbird wants to access certain things. Allow this, and … you’re done. To verify that everything worked out as it should, re-start Thunderbird once more. You should not be getting any prompts this time.

Outgoing settings

To access settings for outbound e-mail using Gmail, click on the account name in the list to the left of the Account settings window. At the bottom, to the right, you will see Outoing Server (SMTP). Choose to Edit SMTP Server. Again, check your settings to be smtp.gmail.com (587), STARTTLS, and set the Authentication method to OAuth2, just like you did for IMAP. Re-start Thunderbird.

Repeat this procedure for all your Gmail accounts configured in Thunderbird.

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