Content of the material
- Shared Folders
- IMAP: you can upload
- Webmail accounts vs email apps
- What is Show in IMAP in Gmail labels
- Should I enable IMAP in Gmail
- IMAP: but it does download
- IMAP: Your Email Inbox in the Cloud
- What “Show in IMAP” Means: Setting Up Gmail IMAP Folders
- RFC 4469
- How to activate these protocols
- RFC 8437
IMAP allows you to access your email wherever you are, from any device. When you read an email message using IMAP, you aren’t actually downloading or storing it on your computer; instead, you’re reading it from the email service. As a result, you can check your email from different devices, anywhere in the world: your phone, a computer, a friend’s computer.
IMAP only downloads a message when you click on it, and attachments aren’t automatically downloaded. This way you’re able to check your messages a lot more quickly than POP.
IMAP also allows access to shared mailboxes. This is an easy means of sharing information, or to make sure important email (to a support mailbox, for example) is dealt with: all support staff can access the IMAP mailbox, and they will instantly see which messages have been answered and which are still pending.
That is the theory. In practice, shared folders are not frequently used, and support is limited among email servers and programs.
IMAP: you can upload
In my opinion, this is an under-appreciated feature of IMAP.
If you place a message in your inbox on a machine that is connected to your email account via IMAP, that message is uploaded and placed in the master copy on the server.
In fact, that’s true for any folder, but the inbox has special significance, I think.
It’s what most people want to move when they’re changing email providers.
Moving from Yahoo! to Gmail? Set up a PC-based email program with an IMAP connection to each, and simply drag and drop the contents of the old inbox to the new.
Conceptually, it really is nearly that simple.
Webmail accounts vs email apps
If you’ve used Gmail, Outlook.com, Hotmail.com, or iCloud, then you’ve used webmail. To get to your webmail account, you access the Internet and sign in to your email account.
If you have a PC or Mac, you’ve probably used a program like Outlook, Apple Mail, or Thunderbird to manage your email. Outlook, Apple Mail, and Thunderbird are email apps: programs that you install on your computer to manage your email. They interact with an email service such as Gmail or Outlook.com to receive and send email.
You can add any email account to your email app for it to manage your email. For example, you can add webmail accounts – Gmail, Outlook.com, Hotmail.com, AOL, and Yahoo – to the Outlook or Apple Mail app to manage your email, and you can add work email accounts.
What is Show in IMAP in Gmail labelsAnswered By: Raymond Anderson Date: created: Sep 29 2021
Show in IMAP relates to those folders that willbe synchronised if you use an email client – like Outlook orThunderbird – over an IMAP connection. If you do notuse a client over an IMAP connection, then you do notneed to worry about those settings.Asked By: Wyatt Jenkins Date: created: Oct 17 2021
Should I enable IMAP in GmailAnswered By: Alejandro Davis Date: created: Nov 03 2021
The IMAP email protocol stores all mail messages and email folders on the server, so that any changes made when you access Gmail on one device also show on any other device used to check your Gmail emails. IMAP is therefore useful if you need to access email on multiple computers or mobile devices.Asked By: Juan Baker Date: created: Aug 23 2021
IMAP: but it does download
If it’s only a view of your email that’s kept on the server, why use a desktop email program at all? You can get a view using a web-based interface just as easily.
I did say the windows analogy is conceptually the best way to think of it. As with many things on your computer, the reality is significantly more complex.
For example, your email program may very well actually download a copy of all newly arrived email to your PC. I think of that as an optimization. You’re still looking at your email as it lives on the mail server’s repository, but your email program has optimized the experience by downloading the email so it can be accessed and displayed more quickly.
In fact, email downloaded by IMAP can be examined off-line, if your email program is appropriately configured. And that’s more-or-less just the same as POP3.
But there is one important difference.
IMAP: Your Email Inbox in the Cloud
What does that mean? Basically, you operate on the mailbox that resides on the server as if it were local to your machine. Messages are not downloaded and deleted immediately but reside on the server and the email program keeps a local copy only for display.
On the IMAP server, the messages can be marked with flags such as "seen", "deleted", "answered", "flagged". (IMAP also supports user-defined flags; these are rarely used, though.)
You can download emails from mail server to your PC using POP. After downloading, the original mail is removed from the server and hence you can’t access it from another computer (Note: In Gmail there is an option to keep the copy of mail in inbox. Thunderbird also provides an option to leave messages on server until you delete them). But there are lots of other options missing (for ex. if you send a message from mail client then you won’t find that message under sent items in your mailbox).
What “Show in IMAP” Means: Setting Up Gmail IMAP Folders
Time needed: 10 minutes.
- Do enable IMAP access in Gmail.
- Click the Settings gear icon (⚙️) near your Gmail’s top right corner.
- Select See all settings from the menu that has appeared.
- Go to the Labels tab under Settings.
Gmail shortcut: You can also go to Labels settings directly.
- Check Show in IMAP for all labels you want to access as folders if you set up Gmail in an email program.
Of course: Uncheck Show in IMAP for labels you do not want to show up in email programs.Make Gmail IMAP fast: Do disable unneeded labels. Messages with multiple labels will show up as copies in all Gmail IMAP folders. This means email programs will download multiple copies, which slows them—and you—down without need or profit.No need to save: Changes take effect immediately; you do not have to save them.
RFC 4469 introduces an extension to the APPEND command that allows the client to create a message on the server that can include the text of messages (or parts of messages) that already exist on the server, without having to FETCH them and APPEND them back to the server.
Here is an example from that RFC, which demonstrates how a CATENATE client can replace an attachment in a draft message, without the need to download it to the client and upload it back:
How to activate these protocols
Different mail services have different settings for dealing with protocols. In Gmail you can find options to activate both the protocols: POP and IMAP (Go to settings -> Forwarding and POP/IMAP). In Hotmail, only POP is present and it doesn’t support IMAP.
Here is a screenshot of Gmail POP/IMAP settings.
RFC 8437 introduces a new command, UNAUTHENTICATE, which serves to return the connection back to the “unauthenticated” state. Under the basic IMAP standard, a client is required to drop a connect and reconnect, but using this extension, a connection may be maintained and be reauthenticated, perhaps as a completely different user.
A small example of what the syntax probably looks like (I say ‘probably’ because I have never seen this command in the wild, nor could I find a server that implements it) might be: