Google’s Less Secure Apps Setting

This message is for everyone who is using Microsoft Outlook or Windows Live Mail
(or Thunderbird) together with their Gmail Account.

You have probably received a message from Google ( in recent days. If you have, this is important so please read on…

The message subject is Resolve One Security Issues Found on your Google Account

This is how the email looks…

We recommend you take the following actions:

  • Click the Take Action Button and you will get the following screen
    (you may have to log into Google first with your Gmail password)

  • If the message suggests that you should Turn off less secure app access then;
    • Close the browser and DELETE THE EMAIL

This message is in fact, quite legitimate and it is from Google but it is extremely misleading. If you do follow Google’s instructions, your Outlook, Windows Live Mail or Thunderbird will stop working with that Gmail account because Google will block your access to it (the symptom is normally identified as a “password” issue).

NB: Your Gmail account/access is not insecure and you are not in any “danger”. In fact Outlook, Windows Live Mail and Thunderbird all require that this setting is turned on to function correctly with any Gmail account – Gmail won’t let these email clients access your mail account if this particular setting is off!

So why is Google doing this and why would they choose to cause chaos amongst their own customers? I simply don’t know. I think it’s actually a swipe at Microsoft because they won’t change MS Outlook to conform with Google’s standards. I don’t know who’s right or who’s wrong here but I don’t think it’s fair or reasonable for any business (big or small) to use its customers to resolve what I can only describe as a commercial tiff.

In summary, if you received one of these Google emails recently and it points to the “Less secure apps” setting, please don’t touch anything. If other settings are mentioned, you should investigate but don’t change anything unless you are sure you understand the implications.

Members of SeniorNet Kapiti are very welcome to come into our next
How Do I…? Workshop and we can advise on any steps they need to take (if any).

Finally, if you have already followed the email’s instructions and you now find yourself locked out of your Gmail account, here’s how to fix it.

  • Close Outlook, Windows Live Mail or Thunderbird (this step is important)
  • Start your Browser (MS Edge, Chrome, Firefox etc)
  • Type in or click the following url
  • If prompted, log into Google using your Gmail account name and password
  • Scroll to the bottom of the screen until you see the following setting

  • If the slider on the right is grey
    and the message says Allow less secure apps: OFF, click the slider
  • Once the setting is turned back on, the slider turns blue and the screen will look like this…

  • Wait for a small message box to appear saying the setting has been applied
    (NB: You will also receive an email advising of this change and so will the owner of any “recovery email address” you have set up)
  • Close your browser
  • Restart Outlook, Windows Live Mail or Thunderbird
  • You should now have access to your Gmail account restored
  • Repeat this process if you have any other affected Gmail accounts

I’m not sure how to categorise all this silliness but maybe it fits into the currently popular genre of “Fake News”!!