Unlocking Google’s Gmail CAPTCHA

We’ve all used a CAPTCHA but few understand it or know what they do. CAPTACHA is the acronym for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.”

In a nut shell CAPTCHAs are those weird looking characters that we’re forced to type in when trying to get to the next step of a form. It’s a clever way of ensuring that the person filling out the form is an actual human and not a computer or “bot”. Google as do many other companies, rely on CAPTCHAs to add an added measure of security.

A not so common problem can occur when trying to access your Google Apps email account with Outlook or similar email client using POP or IMAP. When a user makes too many unsuccessful attempts to access an email account using POP or IMAP, Google may consider the account as being attacked or about to be compromised.

When this happens, Google Apps users may not be able to send mail using their email client. To fix the problem, Google suggests “Unlocking the CAPTCHA.”


Obviously you need to replace “your_domain.com” with your actual domain name.

The page you see should look like this:


To unlock the CAPTCHA you’ll need to type the username and password of the email account giving you problems, then ironically enough, type in the CAPTCHA shown, then the Unlock button.

It usually takes Google several minutes for the email account to start working as normal. It’s important to note that just because you’ve unlocked the CAPTCHA once for a particular email account, that’s not to say that the same problem may not occur again.

To avoid issues which may cause Google to be concerned about an account, try not to connect using Outlook or other email client from too many IP addresses within a short period of time. Jumping from one Hotspot to another or cruising the neighborhood to find an open wireless connection to check your email, are just some of the reasons which can cause a problem. Increasing the “timeout” setting within your Outlook advanced settings for a particular email account may help as well.

The best solution however is to stop using Outlook completely and use your web browser instead. We suggest reading the article entitled:

“Still using MS Outlook?”

Remember to bookmark this page or Google’s Unlock CAPTCHA page in the event you need to ever Unlock your Google CAPTCHA.


  1. Gwen says

    This is ridiculous!! What changed in Google that all of a sudden it cares that I’m using Outlook?? I really want to know what Google changed. It use to work flawlessly, now every morning I have to unlock Captcha to receive my email in outlook. I read how to do it and the article stating Outlook is a thing of the past. BUT TELL ME WHAT GOOGLE CHANGED and WHY!!!

    • says

      Having to unlock your CAPTCHA every morning means that something else is wrong. First I’d make sure that no one is hacking into your web based email account. You can check by clicking on the Details link and verifying the IP address you most commonly use to see if you see another IP which you don’t recognize. Without fail I’d also change my password just to be sure. I’m glad you’re able to at least get outlook to work. Other than that, it may be an anomaly in which case, I’d upgrade my account to a Premium Google Apps account which will give you phone support. Good luck.

  2. internet strani says

    Thanks for this one, very helpful. I am using Mozilla Thunderbird and have the same problems! I simply cant afford to use web based mail. I have many accounts so I have to manage them with mail client. I dont imagine loging into 5 accounts from browser, not gonna happen!

    The other this is, this Google CAPTCHA is really hard to read! Sometimes is almost like playing a game where my 3rd guess fits. Disaster, and so not user friendly!

  3. Michelle Greere says

    Too cool! Thank you for writing this!! I’m a Starbucks Queen and constantly on the road moving from one hotel to another from hotspot to hotspot. I had an issue where I could no longer send emails and this fixed my problem. After unlocking my Captcha (weird name) everything has been working fine.


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