IMAP Email

  Gary 16:07 29 Sep 2004

One of my email accounts has been moved onto an IMAP server.

I use Outlook Express to download my messages and this is still working (without my changing any settings, it's still logging in using the POP protocol). However, whereas Outlook Express used to remove messages it downloaded from the server, it is no longer doing this. Consequently, I have to manually log in to my mail account through webmail periodically to delete all my old messages.

I have tried changing my account type in Outlook Express so that it picks up the messages using the IMAP protocol, but then, instead of delivering them into my normal inbox, it puts them in it's own inbox folder which is syncronised with the mail server - i.e. the messages actually stay stored on the server and when I delete them in Outlook Express they also get deleted on the server.

I need to be able to keep a local copy of all emails received on this account for archive purposes, so I really want my messages to get downloaded onto my computer (and preferably into my standard mailbox), rather than them staying on the server and me reading them from there everytime I access them. I can achieve this by dragging the messages from the IMAP inbox to my regular mailbox but this is tedious.

I've tried using message rules to filter the messages into my standard mailbox but have discovered that mail rules aren't applied to IMAP messages!

Can anyone tell me if it is possible to either:

a) Get my mail to carry on working with POP but have it deleted from the server when it is downloaded to my computer.


b) Get Outlook Express to put my email into the standard inbox rather than keeping it in the IMAP folder, and, once it's put it there, delete it from the server?

Many thanks in advance of any advice.


  Gary 17:56 29 Sep 2004


  Pusherman 08:12 30 Sep 2004

Hi Gary,

The problem lies in the fundamental difference between IMAP and POP3. Pop3 is intended to be accessed remotely, ie. you download your messages to your computer, disconnect from the internet and then read/delete your messages at will. Imap, however, is intended to be accessed via the web, all the messages remain on the server until you decide to delete them.

The difference has become somewhat blurred since most ISP's now provide web based access for pop3 accounts. It's still a pop3 account you are merely accessing it via the web. It's like having an online version of OE.

When you download your pop3 messages the email server is saying; 'Now those messages have been downloaded I don't need to keep a copy so I can delete them off the server.' With imap any action that is performed on the email (eg deleting it) a connection needs to be made with the server because that is where the message is located. When accessing a message via OE (when offline) you are accessing a copy of the message not the actual message. When you access an imap account with OE, OE is acting as an extension to your browser. You are still using a web based service, you just happen to be using OE. You need to be online when deleting imap emails because that is where the original message is stored and that is where it needs to be deleted from.

The messages are stored in its own inbox folder because of that need to be connected to the internet when accessing imap emails and deleting them. When you view the contents of your inbox (pop3 version) you are simply looking at a list of files located on your hard disc. When you view the contents of your imap inbox your computer is opening a connection with your imap server and its inbox so that when you delete a message it deletes the online version also.

Why does OE not apply messages rules to imap emails? I don't use OE to access my imap accounts so I would need to do a bit more investigating for that one. But if what you are saying is true (and I don't doubt for a minute it is) then Microsoft deserve a slap on the wrist. If I can write software that deletes imap messages from the desktop then so can Microsoft!

I know it may seem complicated but at the end of the day I think the bottom line is, it's something you are going to have to live with unless you want to change your email address and go to a pop3 based system.


  Pusherman 08:32 30 Sep 2004

'and i don't doubt for a minute it is'

Is that the correct phrase to use? That sounds rather ambiguous. What I am trying to imply is that I am sure what you are saying is correct.


  Gary 13:04 30 Sep 2004

Thank you for your very detailed reply to my message.

Unfortunately, since the email address concerned is my main account, I can't really change email addresses. I've spoken to the organisation who provide the account and their response was just that the account is intended to be viewed through webmail. The problem is that I need to keep an archive of my messages because I frequently have to refer back to them.

I guess I'll just have to live with it for now - I'll let OE keep checking them as POP and then when I get a message saying my account it nearly full I'll go in through webmail and delete the copies on the server!


  Gary 13:06 30 Sep 2004

does anyone know if the full version of Outlook (i.e. not Outlook Express) would apply message rules to IMAP?

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