Blocked from accessing Gmail using OAuth and IMAP

Photo by Vizzzual

I was pretty excited to see Google rolling out an extension to IMAP that lets you authenticate using OAuth. That all sounds incredibly geeky, but it means you won't have to share your password with a site that wants to work with your inbox. Before this, any innovative services working with your messages had to request and store user's passwords in plain text!

I went ahead and implemented the new extension, and wrote a simple example showing how to use OAuth to log in to IMAP. It's all available in the Handmade IMAP library at with a live version running at

Unfortunately it looks like Google have blocked access to this feature to most developers. The awesome etacts service is able to use it, but they seem to have disabled it for all other sites. I've sent out some emails to Google folks asking for help, but no response so far.

This is a real shame, since this is a great opportunity to close a big security hole, and remove any reason to share passwords with third-party sites. I hope it gets sorted out soon, I'll let you know if I make any progress.

[Update – I got a reply from Eric Sachs at Google: "We ended up having much higher interest then was expected in that API,
so we have decided that instead of answering questions about the current
test version, we are going to focus on trying to get it fully launched
in the next few weeks."]

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