Setup Gmail on Surface

set up gmail on Surface

Many of the questions we get from folks are centered around getting Gmail (in particular the calendar piece) to work with their Surface tablets. In response, we’ve written multiple posts on the subject to help you setup Gmail on Surface tablets over the past several months and they have often been among our most popular posts.

So today, we’ve gathered them all up into one place so that you can easily find the answers you’re looking for when you’re trying to setup Gmail on Surface tablets for maximum functionality.

setup gmail on surfaceSync Google to Surface RT: This post was one of the first ones we wrote on the schism between Microsoft and Google about the discontinuance of Gmail’s support for ActiveSync. That decision effectively broke the Surface’s (and Windows 8.x, in general) ability to sync anything but simple IMAP mail with Gmail. These instructions still work if you’ve not upgraded to Win 8.1.


setup gmail on surfaceWindows 8.1 Breaks Google Calendar Sync: When Windows 8.1 was announced we (along with a lot of people) were hopeful that Microsoft had come up with a way to allow for full function syncing between the Metro Mail/Calendar app and Gmail again. We were disappointed but, we came up with some ideas on how to work around the problem. This post explains the options you are left with.


setup gmail on surfaceSync Google Calendar in Outlook RT: Despite not fixing the Metro Mail/Calendar app issues, Windows 8.1 on the Surface RT included Outlook RT which was noticeably missing in the Windows 8.0 version. Like the built-in mail app, it didn’t fully support Google (again disappointing) but it did allow for read-only access to Google calendars. Instructions included.

setup gmail on surfaceSetup Google Apps Sync for Outlook 2013: This post was specifically for Google Apps for Business or Education users with Surface Pro or Pro 2 tablets. In this post, we covered a workaround to let you use one of the “click to run” version of Outlook 2013 (like Office 365) with the Google Apps Sync tool. This restored full functionality (working mail, calendar, contacts, etc.) but it only works for Surface Pro/2 tablets.


Hopefully you’ve found this post helpful in helping you find the information needed to get Gmail to work with your Surface tablet. We will cover how to move Google Contacts and Google tasks to Outlook in future posts.



  1. I have to sell my surface because of GCAL… 8(
    Outlook RT isn’t a viavle option I have a really big GMAIl account I simply cant keep a local sync of the whole account. Unfortunately even using IMAP OLRT pretend to dpownload my multiGB gmail account locally!
    C’mon MS is not SO DIFFICULT to let user sync a GCAL account!

    • Franzfume,

      Sorry for the delay in getting back to you, I’ve been really busy from my day job and haven’t had much time to get caught up on this.

      Anyway, I understand your frustration, I also have a multi-gigabyte Gmail account and have been often frustrated by the spat between Microsoft and Google and the resulting mail problems.

      If Gmail is a primary driver for you using a tablet and none of the solutions we’ve offered are satisfactory, then getting an Android tablet may be the way to go. However, I would encourage you to not sell off what is (generally) a great little tablet unless you have to.

      If nothing else, the “free” copy of Office RT is probably worth keeping the RT around.


  2. I have a HUGE Gmail account – not to mention its my main email since the conception of gmail, and to be frank, I just use Chrome app on the Surfacepro and set the theme layout of my gmail to ‘cozy’, sure its a touch small… only a bit.. but works fine. I think sometimes you must remember that the tablet is a full blown PC and you dont need an app for everything. I also have Mail/hotmail app running and hooked in the gmail account to this.. but the cons is that you loose the organization… its all just lumped into 1 long box !

    • Hi Kane,
      Totally agree. I often use the web version as well. I have so many devices, I can’t even keep track; so sometimes that’s the best solution. However, many of our readers consistently want the ability to organize everything in one spot, so we’ve been trying to come up with options for them. And honestly, I think Gmail’s web client is inferior, for many reasons. But that seems to be the environment we live in today and we want to make the best of it.

  3. I am not a techy type person and I don’t even know what 50% of what the people above are talking about. I have a surface 2 and I have been using my gmail account through the internet on the tablet. I can’t work out how to switch from my one gmail account to the other. When I press the little round blue person in the top right corner of my gmail account (as I would do on my PC) nothing happens. I have had to use my laptop for all mail that isn’t on that one account.

    • Shana,

      I’ve seen this before. You’re using the Modern version of IE and the touch screen, aren’t you?

      The problem is because the Google mail/calendar/etc… web pages don’t seem to be 100% compatible with IE. However, for some reason, the Google+ webpage is compatible.

      Weird, right?

      OK, so to get around the problem, there’s a couple of things you can do:

      1) Use a mouse or touchpad. If you have a type or touch cover, just attach it and then use the trackpad to click the icon and it should work. If you don’t have a touch cover, you can always plug in a USB mouse and use it.

      2) Go to your Google+ page and change accounts from there then switch back over to mail.

      Neither of these solutions are perfect but, they should work.

      Hope it helps,

  4. I am excited to say that I am a proud owner of a Microsoft Surface 2. but a little discouraged that I cant access my Gmail or even use Google as my default page 🙁 If there is a way , I sure could use some guidance.


  5. Tammi,

    Actually you can get your Gmail in the mail app on your Surface, you just won’t be able to get your Google Calendar synced up.

    Also, in the options for IE (swipe in from the right, choose settings then options) there’s a button for your home pages so you can setup Google to be the help page.

    Hope this helps and let me know if I misunderstood what you need,

  6. I’ve just bought a surface 3. Using gmail through chrome and/or microsoft version.There is a horrible keyboard lag when writing emails. When connected to exterior monitor and keyboard no problem. Can anyone give me hints as to why this is? Thanks in advance

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