The iPhone comes with probably the best email application on a mobile device. The problem is that if I read and delete an email on the iPhone, when I get to my laptop I need to do it all over again because my email uses the POP email protocol. And this is cramping my style. With the POP protocol, email is downloaded from the server and stored on my computer. The most recent emails stay on the server usually for a week or two and that’s why multiple devices re-download the same emails. A more productive system is to use the IMAP email protocol. With IMAP, all email stays on the server. If you delete an email on the iPhone, it is deleted when I get to my computer. I only have to do things once and that’s the beauty of it.
In this tutorial I’m going to show how to switch an account from POP to IMAP. And to be honest, you don’t need an iPhone to benefit from this setup. IMAP will allow you to check your email from work or some one else’s computer and have access to all of you email folders and sent emails. This is not for web services like Google or Hotmail, although as long as it supports IMAP it doesn’t really matter.
This example uses Apple’s Mail in Tiger. But, I believe IMAP was supported in Panther as well.
Step 1: Disable email checking
First disable email checking in ALL accounts so that there are no other processes happening while you set up Mail. From Apple’s Mail application menu go to ‘Mail > Preferences’ and select the Accounts tab. Go through each of your accounts and from the Advanced tab deselect “Include when automatically checking for new email”.
Step 2 Create a new Email Account
Next, select the plus sign at the bottom of the Accounts window to create a new account.
Enter your account description, name and email.
Enter your incoming server info. This is supplied by your email provider and is usually the same as your POP email settings.
Enter you outgoing mail server info as well.
Mail will then check the outgoing mail server before creating the account. This process can take a few minutes.
Step 3: Disable email checking on new account
Once the account is created, deselect the automatic checking for email like we did on all the other accounts.
Step 4: Set IMAP Path ( if needed )
This step is only taken if needed. In my case, my mail server stores all mailbox folders inside of the INBOX folder. Some server are set up differently, it is best to find out from your provider. Try INBOX to start, we’ll see if that works on step 6.
Step 5: Assign folders ( if needed )
Once the account is set up properly, if there are folders in your local account, Mail will show the basic Sent, Draft, Trash folder under a Globe icon. This icon is the mail account in your server. To tell Mail these folders should be considered special folders, just choose a folder, i.e. trash, and go to the top menu and select ‘Mailbox > Choose This Mailbox For’ and select it’s type. Trash should be Trash etc.
Step 6: Copy local emails to IMAP account
To copy emails from the POP account to the IMAP account, just create a new mailbox by clicking on the plus sign at the bottom left corner of the Message Viewer window. When prompted, choose your IMAP mail account from the location popup window and name the folder you choose to copy.
Start by noting how many emails are on the local folder you are copying then select them all and drag them to the corresponding folder in the IMAP server. In the screenshot above we are copying all the email from the selected Archives folder to the Archives folder in the All Forces IMAP server at the bottom of the list. The speed of the transfer depends on how many emails you are transferring, their file size and what upload speed your internet connection is. Open the Activity Viewer window to keep track of the progress.
Once all the emails of the folder are copied to the server, double check that they all copied by selecting the folder on the server and looking at its message count in the window name. If all emails copied, control+click the local folder and select Delete from the pull down menu. Sometimes the deleting step needs to be repeated.
Once you are done copying all folders, open the Inbox Mailbox by clicking on the triangle and move all the Inbox emails from the POP account to the Inbox of the IMAP account. Do the same step for the Drafts and Sent folders. Trash is optional. Some of you like to undelete I am sure.
Step 7: Delete POP Account
Double check that there are no more local email folders with any emails in them. And that there are no emails in the local POP account Inbox, Draft or sent folders. I can not stress this enough, this step can NOT be undone. Your will loose emails if you still have them locally in your POP account. From the menu select ‘Mail > Prefereces’ and go to the Accounts tab. Select the old POP account and press the minus icon to delete his account. This deletes the POP email account.
Step 8: Enable email checking
Next, go through each of your accounts and from the Advanced tab select “Include when automatically checking for new email”. Now close the Preferences window and from the to menu select ‘Mailbox > Synchronize All Accounts’. This step will synchronize your local emails with the server. This process will take a little while the first time you do it.
Step 9: Sync iPhone and enjoy
Sync up your iPhone to transfer your new Mail account settings. When completed, unplug it and turn it on. From the iPhone, select the Mail application, select your email account and you will notice you now have all of your folders listed there. You might need to wait a little bit the first time as the phone synchronizes with the IMAP server. Tap on a folder to see the emails in them. Also, when reading an email in the inbox, tap the folder icon and you get the folder list where you can move the email to.
ConclusionSwitching from POP to IMAP is relatively painless but it does take some careful attention to avoid any email loss. I have moved accounts in as quick as half an hour ad as long as a day and a half due to lots and lots of attachments and slow upload speeds. Keep in mind, most hosting services do have a size limit for your account so keep an eye on your attachments. Mail provides a nice function under ‘Message > Remove Attachments’ where you can remove large attachments after you have copied them to another place in your computer. I have a dynamic folder called Attachments that automatically gets populated only with emails that have attachments that gives me a quick view off all my attachments. Also, keep in mind that IMAP is not as snappy as POP mail. But the slight delay, which is only noticeable when you first select a folder, is more than made up by the fact that you are always accessing your email directly whether it’s from your Mac, webmail or the iPhone. Also, iPhone shows a maximum of
That’s all for now. Happy emailing…