The Lumber Room

"Consign them to dust and damp by way of preserving them"

Gmail has IMAP!

with 3 comments

Finally. Many thought this would never happen.

And just like Free software usually, it seems to be the handiwork of someone scratching an itch.


  • IMAP folders are Gmail labels. Gmail labels show up as folders in your client, and moving a message to a folder in your client simply adds that label in Gmail.
  • In particular, be careful creating folders, and avoid making a mess. Try reusing the default Gmail labels: Set your client’s drafts folder to “[Gmail]/Drafts”.
  • Messages with multiple labels appear in each of those folders. So there is some duplication at the client end, of course, but this is unavoidable; the price you pay for forcing a tagging philosophy on software that has different beliefs.
  • Conversely, if you want to apply multiple labels to a message through your client, you can use the “poor man’s tagging” that has always been possible — copy the message to each of those folders.
  • If you delete a message from a “folder” (other than “[Gmail]/Trash” and “[Gmail]/Spam”), Gmail only removes that label. It is still present in “All Mail”. To actually delete, move to “[Gmail]/Trash”. What happens if you delete email from “All mail”?
  • Recommended IMAP client settings: Don’t save sent messages on the server; any mail sent through gmail’s smtp is automatically copied to “[Gmail]/Sent Mail” folder.
  • In general, actions sync neatly; see the full table.
  • IMAP and POP work with messages, so if you move only one message from a thread to a folder, only that one will get that label, but the Gmail web interface will show the entire conversation with that label. Note that this is only a display thing — it’s not that opening Gmail will give all the messages the label, and when you reopen your client suddenly things are different. (I need to actually check this.)
  • You still have Gmail’s amazing server-side spam filtering.
  • Some things don’t work.
  • Some other things are alleged not to work that I don’t even understand
  • Everything.

They got everything in order, made all those pages, and turned on IMAP without making any advance announcement…


Written by S

Fri, 2007-10-26 at 04:29:14

3 Responses

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  1. “To use IMAP, you must have your interface language set to ‘English (US)’.”

    How unfair.


    Fri, 2007-11-16 at 19:21:35

  2. Localisation always takes time… but in this case it’s irrelevant anyway: at most, you’ll need the en_US interface to turn your IMAP option on, and can switch back immediately.


    Sat, 2007-11-17 at 02:43:05

  3. @Preyas: Here at least they are saying it explicitly. I was getting quite annoyed that I didn’t have maps in Picasa albums, while Kshitij did. Turned out that I needed to switch from en_GB to en_US. And I didn’t find this explanation anywhere in the official Google Help pages.


    Sat, 2007-11-17 at 04:36:15

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