Using IMAP with Apple’s Mail Application

Set up and use an IMAP-enabled mail account through Mac OS X’s Mail application.

Most modern email clients, including Mac OS X applications such as Apple’s own Mail, Qualcomm’s Eudora, or Microsoft’s Entourage, default to using the same mail transfer protocol: the venerable Post Office Protocol, more commonly known as POP. POP defines a simple set of instructions that lets users connect to a mail server account, download new mail, and then disconnect. Nearly every ISP’s mail server supports POP, so it’s a safe choice for mail-fetching client applications to support as well.

More recently, an alternative protocol known as the Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) has been steadily gaining popularity and support from Internet providers. IMAP contains a more sophisticated command set that allows users to store and organize mail on the server, instead of simply downloading and deleting it.

IMAP gives the most benefit to people who connect to a mail server using more than one computer, since an IMAP-enabled mail account will look the same on all these machines, from overall mailbox structure down to the status of individual messages, and any changes made to a mailbox on one machine become visible to the rest.

This hack will guide you through setting up and using an IMAP-enabled mail account through Mac OS X’s Mail application, covering IMAP-specific concepts and terminology as they come up.

Checking for IMAP Service

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