IMAP 101

This entry is part 13 of 27 in the series Black Belt

Gmail now supports IMAP. What’s IMAP you say? IMAP stands for Internet Message Access Protocol. This is just another way for your Outlook, Outlook Express, Apple Mail, Thunderbird, or even your iPhone, to communicate with Google’s mail server.

So what are the advantages of IMAP? For users with many, or large messages, IMAP can result in faster response times. Unlike POP3, You can have multiple clients connect to the same mailbox. That means you can leave your computer connected at work and any changes you make at home are reflected at work, or any other client that is talking to the server.
IMAP also allows you to access parts of a message independently. This is really done in the background without your knowledge. What this means is that messages with large file attachments don’t retrieve the large attachment unless told to do so. You can retrieve and read a series of messages much quicker with IMAP.

In short, IMAP is a more modern and bandwidth-friendly protocol.

You can enable IMAP by logging in to your Gmail account on the web, going to the Settings link in the upper right and select the tab that now reads “Forwarding and POP/IMAP”. A new section has been added labeled “IMAP Access”. Click on the radio button that says “Enable IMAP” and then the button labeled “Save Changes”. It’s that simple. There you will also find a link to help you configure any number of popular applications.

If you haven’t noticed, storage space has increased. After gradually going up from the original 1GB to 2 and then nearly stopping at 2.8GB, a sudden surge starting in October 2007 has seen significant growth in the Gmail mailbox. As of this recording I’m over 4.5GB. Sadly, the storage increase happened right after I archived all my mail to a local Thunderbird application and cleaned out Gmail entirely. It seems funny to only be using 5% of my storage space again.

Keep listening to the Gmail Podcast. News sources have it that more exciting improvements to Gmail are coming out soon.

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