IMAP, or Internet Message Access Protocol, lets you download messages from Gmail's servers onto your computer so you can access your mail with a program like Microsoft Outlook Express or Apple Mail, even when you aren't connected to the Internet.
IMAP creates a constant connection between mail clients (desktop and/or mobile) and Gmail.What's the difference between IMAP and POP?
Unlike POP, IMAP offers two-way communication between your web Gmail and your email client(s). This means when you log in to Gmail using a web browser, actions you perform on email clients and mobile devices (ex: putting mail in a 'work' folder) will instantly and automatically appear in Gmail (ex: it will already have a 'work' label on that email the next time you sign in).
IMAP also provides a better method to access your mail from multiple devices. If you check your email at work, on your mobile phone, and again at home, IMAP ensures that new mail is accessible from any device at any given time.
Finally, IMAP offers a more stable experience overall. Whereas POP is prone to losing messages or downloading the same messages multiple times, IMAP avoids this through two-way syncing capabilities between your mail clients and your web Gmail.
If you're trying to decide between using POP and using IMAP with Gmail, we recommend IMAP.How much does IMAP cost?
IMAP for Gmail is free.Great! How do I get started?
First, you'll need to enable IMAP in Gmail. Once IMAP is enabled, follow the configuration instructions for your client of choice. Currently, only the clients listed are supported for IMAP. If you'd like to download your Gmail messages with a different client, please check to see if it's on our list of supported POP clients.
When you've enabled IMAP and set up your client, sign in to Gmail through the client and watch your messages arrive. You'll notice that all of your custom Gmail labels will appear in your client as folders, with your labeled messages inside. While we'd like to make your IMAP experience match the Gmail web interface as much as possible, some Gmail-specific features and terms, such as conversation threading and stars, won't appear in your client. Don't worry; you can still perform all the usual Gmail functions, just in a slightly different way. The IMAP behavior chart shows you how to perform common functions on your IMAP client.
Please note that every client handles IMAP in a slightly different way. If you're curious about the specific use of your client, contact the client's support team.Where can I learn more?
Explore these topics for more information about the basic features of IMAP in Gmail:
updated 10/11/2010Go there...
You can set up the following mail clients or mobile devices to sync with Gmail. To learn how, click the name of your mail client or mobile device below.
If your client or device isn't listed here, we're not yet able to provide assistance with its configuration, but we suggest that you try out the instructions for other mail clients.
- Outlook Express (Windows)
- Outlook 2003 (Windows)
- Outlook 2007 (Windows)
- Apple Mail 2
- Apple Mail 3
- Apple Mail 4
- Windows Mail
- Thunderbird 2
- Thunderbird 3
* While we offer configuration instructions, we're currently unable to provide support for these clients.
updated 10/25/2010Go there...
Please note that with Thunderbird 3.0, you'll automatically be configured with IMAP. If you’d like to add additional email accounts with IMAP access, please see the instructions below.
To set up your Thunderbird client to work with Gmail:
- As a reminder, please make sure to Enable IMAP in Gmail and click Save Changes when you're done.
- Open Thunderbird.
- Click the Tools menu, and select Account Settings...
- Select Add Mail Account... from the drop-down list located under the account list on the left.
- The first dialog in Thunderbird’s Automatic Account Configuration will be displayed. Enter your name, your Gmail email address and your password. Click Continue.
- Thunderbird will query the Gmail server and automatically configure the appropriate IMAP connection settings for your account. When complete, Thunderbird will show you a confirmation dialog similar to this one:
- Confirm that the connection settings are the same as those shown above and click Create Account.
- Check our recommended client settings, and adjust your client's settings as needed.
updated 10/26/2010Go there...
This worked well, quick and easy for me in Thunderbird 3.1.6 on my Fedora 13 System...