Are you using IMAP?

September 2, 2022

What is IMAP?

IMAP stands for Internet Message Access Protocol, and it’s one of the most popular ways to access email from different computers and devices. There are other methods, but IMAP was the first widely used protocol, and it’s still in use today by Microsoft Outlook mail clients on Windows and Mac OS, as well as many webmail applications like Gmail or Yahoo! Mail.

IMAP allows you to access your email wherever you are, from any device. When you read an email message using IMAP, you’re reading it from the email service.

How it works?

When you use IMAP, your email program gets all your email from the cloud servers. This allows you to access all of your email from multiple devices, such as a desktop computer, laptop, tablet or phone. It also gives you a backup in case anything happens to one of those devices.

What are the benefits?

As opposed to POP3 email, which downloads a copy of your inbox and then deletes it from your server when you are done viewing it, IMAP does not delete any messages from your account until you ask for them to be deleted. IMAP works best for people who need access to their email on multiple devices.

What are the limitations?

No limit to how many emails can be stored in an Inbox folder. No limit to length of an email message. The maximum number of characters allowed in an IMAP email address (username) or folder name is 255.

Configuration examples

While Gmail and Outlook 365 support IMAP natively, many email clients don’t. To check if your email client supports it, try logging into your email account using that program. In Gmail, click on Settings and open Forwarding and POP/IMAP. Under Access Your Mail Using POP3, select Enable POP for all mail or Enable POP for mail that arrives from now on.

If you can’t get on, it may be because of a specific settings. First try restarting your device and your Internet connection, as well as uninstalling and reinstalling your mail application. If that doesn’t work, turn off one setting at a time to see which one could be causing problems.

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