IMAP or POP for Mail?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by Lightning Bolt, Apr 8, 2013.

  1. Lightning Bolt macrumors member

    Feb 15, 2013
    Windy City Suburb
    I'm curious... Can someone explain what the difference is between IMAP and POP type email accounts?

    On my old Macs, I was always using POP.

    Now (by default), they are all IMAP. I have 8 different accounts.

    Just wondering if I should have tried to set them up differently.

    The main reason for my question is that I've been having an issue with Mail asking for my password every time it checks mail (which is set for 5 min).

    It did not do this in the beginning and I've only had this new MacBook Pro for 10 days.
  2. RadDave macrumors regular


    Apr 6, 2013
    North Carolina
    Hi Lightning Bolt - concerning your second question below, I started a post yesterday of this same password request issue - I have a Yahoo account and believe that the fault is w/ the Yahoo server; seems to be working fine today; several others responded w/ similar comments - so you may want to just wait a day or two - :)

    The POP3 protocol is like your mailbox @ home, i.e. once the mail is delivered, then it no longer resides elsewhere (the usual default choice although POP can be setup to save copies on the mailing delivery server, this may not be an offered option) - thus, once your mail is delivered, it is no longer available on the server for viewing by your other devices (computers, iOS devices, or other phones).

    The IMAP protocol keeps those messages on the server (unless you tell it to delete them on your local device) and they remain available for you to view w/ your other devices. IMAP has been replacing the POP3 protocol, which may not even to offered (or as a second choice) as a mailing delivery service now by providers.

    Now w/ a half dozen accounts or more, you might just want to prioritize those that are most important and need to be always available on all of your devices vs. those that might work fine w/ a POP3 protocol - but bottom line up to you - good luck! Dave

  3. mic j macrumors 68030

    Mar 15, 2012
    Agreed. I posted in another thread stating this problem that I was experiencing the same issue. Today it is fine...Yahoo issue.
  4. HobeSoundDarryl, Apr 8, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2013

    HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    OP like you, I used POP because it was THE way way back when I set up email accounts. However, I've recently switched to IMAP and find it far superior. Back when you might have just one or maybe 2 devices with email clients, it probably didn't offer much advantage. But now that we have more than 2 devices with email clients, IMAP really shows it's advantages. RadDave explained the key one- where email is stored- in his post. By leaving mail storage on the server, anything you do with that mail shows up the same on your other clients.

    For example, if you get mail on your iPad, it is moved to that iPad with POP. That means when you check mail on your computer or phone, that message is gone. The big pain in this is accidentally leaving one of your email clients running on something that automatically checks mail regularly. Then, you hit the road and keep checking mail and all seems quiet. It's not that you aren't getting any/much email, it's that the device you left on is getting most/all of the mail. You won't discover this until you get back to that device.

    Say you have a Mac running Mail with auto-check on. You don't shut it down before you leave for vacation. That Mac is going to keep downloading new mail. You might be checking mail with your iPhone or iPad and not getting much- if any. Then, you get home and find all this email you missed. While that can be more blessing than curse, you're not checking email so often in hopes of missing emails.

    IMAP works different. Your Mac will keep showing your new mail in that scenario but it will also show on any other clients you open. On that vacation, you read your mail, delete some of it, move some of it to folders, etc and when you get back home, whatever you did with it while away will be that way on your Mac too. Open the iPad, and it will be that way on your iPad too.

    What about replies? Reply in POP and those replies are only in the Sent box on whatever email client you used to create those replies. Reply in IMAP and those replies will be visible in Sent on all of your other email clients too.

    What about being able to work with mail offline such as when flying? IMAP still downloads mail like POP. You can still do offline replies, mail organizing, deleting mail, etc... and then when you do connect, IMAP will "sync" with the server so all that work syncs up with your other email clients. Mail you deleted with your iPhone will be deleted on your Mac & iPad too. Mail you moved to folders on your iPad will be moved to the same folders on your Mac & iPhone too. Etc.

    (Too) Long Story Short: I can't see any advantage to POP over IMAP. The latter feels just about the same in operation but I notice all of the niceties as I hop email client to email client.
  5. Lightning Bolt thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 15, 2013
    Windy City Suburb
    Thanks for all the insight guys! Great examples too.

    With that stuff clarified,

    My only issue now (as minor as it may seem) is getting my accounts showing up (on the lists in the sidebar) in the order I'd like them (which is not alphabetically or in the order I created them).

    I first did an import (from the old Mac) starting with the primary account and then down the list. Seems when I'd change the user name, the account would shift to the top (where I'd like my most used account). Then after changing the others, the order was wrong. It seemed as each account is edited, it's put at the top of the list.

    I deleted all the accounts (thanks to IMAP) and re-imported them starting from the LAST account I wanted in the list. Well, this didn't work as planned. They all were listed alphabetically.

    I don't think it would be a good idea to rename the accounts with numbers in the front of the address (to force them in the order I want) so do any of you have some insight as to how I can get both the in-boxes and the folder mailboxes below the in-boxes to be listed top-to-bottom in the order I would prefer?

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