Gmail API Overview

The Gmail API is a RESTful API that can be used to access Gmail mailboxes and send mail. For most web applications the Gmail API is the best choice for authorized access to a user's Gmail data and is suitable for various applications, such as:

  • Read-only mail extraction, indexing, and backup
  • Automated or programmatic message sending
  • Email account migration
  • Email organization including filtering and sorting of messages
  • Standardization of email signatures across an organization

Following is a list of common terms used in the Gmail API:

Message
An email message containing the sender, recipients, subject, and body. After a message has been created, a message cannot be changed.
Thread
A collection of related messages forming a conversation. In an email client app, a thread is formed when one or more recipients respond to a message with their own message.
Label

A mechanism for organizing messages and threads. For example, the label "taxes" might be created and applied to all messages and threads having to do with a user's taxes. There are two types of labels:

System labels
Internally-created labels, such as INBOX, TRASH, or SPAM. These labels cannot be deleted or modified. However, some system labels, such as INBOX can be applied to, or removed from, messages and threads.
User labels
Labels created by a user. These labels can be deleted or modified by the user or an application.
Draft

An unsent message. A message contained within the draft can be replaced. Sending a draft automatically deletes the draft and creates a message with the SENT system label.

Next steps

To get started with Gmail API: