What's IMAP

Having written pages of stuff on what POP and how it works, I am now going to write a tiny piece on IMAP, because if you have read the stuff on POP, all that counts here is what is different.

IMAP keeps a copy of all the email and all the folders on a central server and keeps another copy just the same on all the computer devices that connect to it. So if you delete an email on one machine it deletes on all. That does not sound like much of a deal if you say it quickly. As your number of emails and devices climb it can make an enormous difference to your productivity and annoyance levels. Try dealing with a couple of hundred emails on a few devices and you will see what I mean.

The key point to remember is that if mixing IMAP and POP is asking for trouble.

At the start of the section on emails I listed 7 common problems that people get when using email on an iPad. Lets pick up on the ones that using IMAP instead of POP solve:

1. If you delete an email on one device it deletes on all.


  2. You can send emails from your iPad when you are at home, but as soon as you go on holiday you can only receive, sending just gives an error.
  3. New emails come to your iPad, but all the old stuff from before you purchased the iPad is only on the PC.
  4. All those sub-folders for friends, family, your cornflake collection etc that you have been building up for years in your email and not available in on the iPad.
  5. When you send an email on the iPad it never appears in the sent box on the PC or you phone.
  6. Sometimes you could swear you saw an email on the iPad, but it’s not there when you go back and have another look. 
  7. That big collection of email contacts you have been accumulating for years is not on the iPad.