Google Apps / Gmail: Fixing the "Invalid Credentials" message using Unlock CAPTCHA

Every now and then one of our clients using Google Apps comes to us saying that their email client (eg. Outlook, Apple Mail, iPhone, etc) won’t accept their email username and password. Common error messages are:

  • invalid credentials’
  • ‘web login required’

The first thing to check is that you’re using the correct username. For Google Apps users, your username (for POP/IMAP access) is your entire email address (eg you@yourdomain.com).

If you still have problems, Google may have “locked” your account.  This can happen for any of the following reasons:

  • your password has been entered incorrectly multiple times
  • your mail client is configured to check for emails too often (Google recommends only once every 10 minutes)
  • your password isn’t strong enough

To unlock your account, you need to go to https://www.google.com/a/yourdomain.com/UnlockCaptcha
(be sure to replace yourdomain.com with your actual domain name)

If you’re a transitioned Google Apps account user, you should use this link to clear your CAPTCHA.

The page should look like this:

Google's Unlock Captcha Screen

Google's Unlock Captcha Screen

Type in the first part of your email address (eg type in “you” if your email address is you@yourdomain.com), password, and CAPTCHA. After submitting the form, your account should be unlocked.

If your account seems to get locked often, some people have suggested that using a strong password will help. You can also check the Last account activity details link at the bottom of your Gmail inbox. This should list all the systems that are attempting to access your account.

For more information, see Google’s help article: I’m having trouble logging in with my username and password.