Access your Gmail at Work

Also having problems with your Gmail access being blocked at work? If you are one of the many people employed in one of the numerous call centres in Ireland there is a good chance that you have no access to your Webmail account. One of the most popular webmail providers at the moment is Gmail, I'll show you how to access it from your work.

Most System and Network administrators block access to the Webmail servers at the Http level, that is, they block the address from being accessed via your browser. I'm going to show you how it is possible to access your Gmail anyway, by not using your browser.

The first step you need to do is to setup your Gmail account to accept POP3 connections. You are going to have to do this from home of course...

Open up your Gmail account and got to 'Settings' and then 'Forwarding and POP'. You can select to enable POP for all email, or only for any future mail. Also, make sure that you select 'keep Gmail's copy in the Inbox' (example)

Now you are going to need an e-mail client. I know you cannot install applications on your business PC, as the Sysadmins have probably disabled that as well. We are going to make use of a great little app made by a man named John Haller, he modified the Mozilla Thunderbird client so that it can be run on a USB stick. (don't have a USB stick? don't worry, you don't necessarily need one.)

Start off by downloading Portable Thunderbird, and save it to your hard drive somewhere. Double-Click the download when finished and you will be asked where to extract the files to. Now, if you have a USB stick extract it to this, otherwise just extract it to anywhere on your hard drive that you have access to.

Now you can fire up the email client by opening the Portable Thunderbird folder that was just created and then Doubleclicking on 'PortableThunderbird.exe'

The first time you start Thunderbird you will be welcomed with the 'New Account Wizard', select Email Account and click Next. (If you have already gone beyond this point you can easily start the wizard up again by selecting 'Tools' -> 'Account Settings...' then Select 'Add Account...')

Now follow the Wizard steps:

  • Enter your Name and Gmail address -> Next
  • Select POP, and enter the following information: (example)
    • Incoming Server:
    • Outgoing Server:
  • Enter your Gmail address in both the Incoming and Outgoing User Name. (example)
  • In the next screen you can give this account a name (this can be anything you like ie. My Gmail Account)
  • In the last screen remove the tick from 'Download messages now' (we need to change a few more settings first)

Your account is now setup, all you need to do is change two more settings:(example)

  • Go to 'Tools' -> 'Account Settings...'
  • Select your newly created Gmail Account in the left panel
  • Change two settings:
    • Set Security Settings to 'SSL' (check to see that the Port number changes to 995)
    • Check 'Leave Messages on Server'
  • Click 'OK' and see if you can download your Gmail!

The first time you try to retrieve your email you will be asked for a password, this is the same password as you would normally use to access your Gmail Account. For safety reasons I would recommend not letting Thunderbird remember this.

Not Working? You may have the misfortune to have a SysAdmin that already knows about this trick. If you are still not able to access your Gmail account from work try accessing your Gmail from the USB stick at home to make sure that all the settings are correct. If it does work, be careful not to overuse the client, a spike in traffic may raise a red flag. Also, don't tell your colleagues about this, otherwise this will be blocked before you know it.

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