IMAP connection error could be due to two-factor authentication

HubSpot Moderator
If you received an error message while trying to connect your inbox via IMAP, you most likely have two-factor authentication set up for your email address, and will need to generate an app-specific password in order to connect. 
Two-factor authentication was implemented by Google for Gmail accounts to prevent unauthorized access, and has since been adopted by all mainstream email service providers. With two-factor authentication, a code is sent to a trusted device (usually your phone) that you must enter on your computer before given access to your account. This extra layer of security was vital to knocking down hackers and was widely implemented in the last decade. 
Chances are good you set up two-factor authentication years ago, but forgot, since most services provide a method for remembering the authenticated device. For example, three attempts to add my iCloud address failed due to timeouts. After a few moments, I realized I had set up two-factor authentication for my iCloud accounts (my main email address for more than a decade) nearly seven years ago, and would need to set up an app-specific password.
What kind of password?
App-specific passwords are generated by your email provider for one-time use with specific mail apps. When using a two-factored address with Hubspot email integration, the system will not bump you out to your email provider to gain access with an authentication code. Instead, you will need to sign in to your email provider and generate the app-specific password from the security section of your service provider. 
Sound complicated? Not really. All service providers who implemented two-factor authentication now have a mechanism to generate app-specific passwords. For iCloud accounts, users can sign in to the Apple Id management tool at and select Security. Once selected, create title for the password, and a password is generated (custom formatted passwords are not allowed). Copy this password and return to the HubSpot email integration page to connect your email address using this newly generated password. 
Wait? Did I just change my general email password? 
Keep in mind, this is not a permanent change to your email password, this is a one-time-use password generated so that you can integrate your mail with a specific application. If you have other apps that want access to your email info, you can easily generate passwords for those apps also.
Where can I generate app-specific passwords for my Hotmail/Yahoo accounts?
Your best bet here is to use your trusted friend Google. Try searching Yahoo app-specific passwords or Hotmail app-specific passwords. If you are using a corporate email system with two-factor authentication, please reach out to your email administrator. 

Did my post help answer your query? Help the Community by marking it as a solution
4 Replies
Community Manager

Thanks for sharing @edjusten, a very useful post for those getting started with this new feature Smiley Happy

New Contributor

Hi, I hope I'm posting this in the right place (apologies if I'm not but I'm new).


I'm trying to connect my email via IMAP and keep getting an SMTP error.  I don't need two factor authentication so not sure why it's not working, please can you advise?




HubSpot Moderator

Hi @AugmentableM This HubSpot Academy resource explains the technical requirements for running IMAP/SMTP. Can you check this against your service provider and let me know if you are succesful at connecting?



Did my post help answer your query? Help the Community by marking it as a solution
New Contributor

Hi @edjusten thanks for getting back to me.  I currently route my emails via an email branding agency and their SMTP settings weren't working.  I decided to not use their details and use my email server details and it worked.  I will however speak to the branding company as I don't want to lose my branded signatures and banners.......thanks, Francesca