Troubles with Gmail – Get the Send/Receive to Work

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Written by Vic Marcus, Vice President of Business Development at Northwest Interpreters, Inc., a language services company based in Vancouver, Washington USA.

First of all, how does this article relate to the language services industry you may ask?  It does if you use Gmail as your e-mail service provider.  Whether you are a language service company owner or employee, freelance interpreter or translator, or just a Gmail user who looked around the web and couldn’t find a solution, this article may have the answers you are looking for.

I use Gmail for both my personal email as well as for business purposes through Google Apps.  Google makes it convenient for the end user to access email through a web browser, which is fine if that’s the method you prefer.  However, in my case I am armed with both Outlook 2007 and the standard Apple Mail App on both my iPhone and iPad.  What I discovered was that I could perform all email functions, including sending and receiving messages, on my office network, on both personal and business email accounts, but could not do the same at home.

I can receive e-mails just fine, but outgoing emails are stuck in my Outbox.  Help!

This is the issue that I ran into and spent a few hours Googling for answers.  What I discovered was that other Gmail users were experiencing the same problem.  I tried many suggested fixes, including those found here: “Google Gmail – Problems sending mail” until finally getting to the last step that suggests, “If you receive an error message after performing step 3, your network administrator or security software has blocked access to our servers.”

Eureka! I found a solution (or so I hoped).

I had one those Aha! moments to try something new.  I logged into my home network router’s control panel interface and checked out the firewall settings.

What I discovered was that the router pretty much locked down all the ports that it didn’t think was necessary for normal operation.  One of those ports was 587.  Gmail uses this port for outgoing emails on the server.

How to unlock Port 587?

On the standard firewall port list inside the router interface, I could not find this port number.  At this point, I had the key, but couldn’t figure out where the door was!  I then browsed to a section inside the router interface called Application Forwarding.  Application Forwarding is similar to Port Forwarding.  I am sure you can accomplish the same result using either.  I ended up using Application Forwarding.

Under Application Forwarding, I created a custom defined application called “GmailSMTP” and opened up Port 587.  I saved the settings, power cycled the router and my problem was solved.

Both outgoing and incoming emails are now working at home.  I hope this helps and good luck!

Follow Vic Marcus on Twitter: @VicMarcusNWI