Should I switch from POP Gmail to IMAP Gmail?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by beethovengirl, Jan 24, 2008.

  1. beethovengirl macrumors regular

    Jan 15, 2004

    I've been happily using POP Gmail with Leopard Mail. The only reason I'm even thinking about IMAP is that I'd like to have access to my Spam folder w/o having to log into Gmail via my web browser. I'm told the only way to access the Spam folder in is to switch to IMAP Gmail. Is this true?

    I am wary of switching to IMAP b/c I used to have IMAP email at my old university, and when I was about to lose my account at the university after graduating, I discovered that even though my email appeared to be stored on my computer, it actually wasn't -- i.e. I could not recover the messages like I can with POP, as the "full" messages were actually on the server and stored in some weird way on my computer. When I was copying my IMAP mail folder to my computer, hundreds of messages disappeared in the process, so since then, I've been wary of IMAP. If I had a mobile lifestyle [like an iPhone], I can understand the need for IMAP, but I don't work and spend most of my time at home with my MacBook.

    Was this a peculiarity of my university's IMAP system? Are Gmail IMAP messages stored on my hard drive the same way that Gmail POP messages are?

    I've read about a lot of people having problems with IMAP Gmail and, so there's yet another reason that I'm wary.

    As it turns out, Amazon is letting me return my defective SR MacBook [multiple kernel panics], so I'm about to transfer files from my old MacBook to my new MacBook. I suppose now might be a good time to make the switch, if it's a good idea to make the switch. If so, should I not transfer my old Gmail POP messages to my new computer?

    I'd appreciate any advice you may have. Thank you :)
  2. swiftaw macrumors 603


    Jan 31, 2005
    Omaha, NE, USA
    When setting up your IMAP account in there is an option to keep copies of all messages on your machine so that you can still access them all even if you are no longer connected to the IMAP server.
  3. beethovengirl thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 15, 2004
    thanks for your reply, swiftaw! :)

    With my old university IMAP email acct, I could still read my messages when I wasn't connected to the IMAP server. Apparently, they were stored in some weird way. For example, in my IMAP inbox for my old email acct, most of the messages in my inbox look as they did when my account was active, but the emails from the last day only have the date, sender, and subject -- no text inside, even though I could read the message text in Apple Mail before my account was deactivated. [Those messages are backed up in my "On My Mac" copy of my IMAP mailbox]

    What is your opinion on the problems people have been having with IMAP Gmail and
  4. stomer macrumors 6502a

    Apr 2, 2007
    Leeds, UK
    I've been using with Gmail IMAP for the past few months, and I've not experienced any problems. It's a lot better than pop because both my Mac Mini and my MacBook have their email databases perfectly in sync because they both retrieve my email via IMAP. This wouldn't be possible if I were to use POP.
    Also, a POP server has to be polled at various intervals in order to check for any new mail. An IMAP server can work a little differently, it can 'push' the email to your email client whenever an email arrives.
    It did take a little while to get my head around how Gmail manages its labels and IMAP, but now everything works as I'd expect it to.
  5. beethovengirl thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 15, 2004
    I have some follow-up questions...

    Let's say that Gmail loses all of my email due to some server attack. I mean, I'm not paying for this service, so I can't expect them to expend resources getting my messages back in this scenario. If I choose the option to keep copies of all message on my machine, will they actually be there if updates itself and sees that there are no messages on the server?

    Also, if I decide to stay with POP Gmail for the time being, is it easy to switch to IMAP Gmail at a later date? thanks for your help :)
  6. QCassidy352 macrumors G4


    Mar 20, 2003
    Bay Area
    A couple of things.

    First, I understand your concern about a cataclysmic gmail server problem, but I think it's pretty unlikely, and moreover, even though the service is free, it is their business. So I think that in the unlikely event of a nuclear meltdown (figuratively speaking) they would make every attempt to make things right. Just because you're not paying them doesn't mean that customer satisfaction isn't very important to their bottom line.

    Second, you can always create local folders on your mac. That's what I do. I have the inbox, sent, drafts, and trash folders synced to the gmail server, but I also have a number of local folders. I don't know how you manage your email, but I'm the type who likes to keep his inbox to a minimum (like 10-15 messages). Everything else of any importance gets filed in a local folder. So even if there were a total meltdown of the servers, and google couldn't or wouldn't retrieve the lost emails, I'd be out a pretty modest number of messages.

    And what would likely happen is that your mac would try to sync to the server, tell you it couldn't connect, and it would not delete the messages from your inbox because it's not that it wouldn't see any messages on the server; it wouldn't see the server at all!

    So in short, I think there is very, very little to worry about with IMAP. IMO the chances of something happening to my macbook are far greater than the chances of something happening to google's servers, making IMAP in fact safer than POP (of course, that's what local backups are for, but I think the chances of my macbook and my external HD both failing are still greater than the chances of google's servers dying).

    Sorry this got so long, but hope it helps! :)
  7. Queso Suspended

    Mar 4, 2006
    I use GMail as my master set of folders and sync to both my Macs, with a subset of message synced to my mobile phone. It's also configured to check two POP3 accounts and to accept forwarding from my own mail domain. Works brilliantly. The only gripe I have is that I want my domain name as my default address, but Outlook users can sometimes get "me@gmail on behalf of" as the sender, which I worry might get confusing. Not a problem when I'm at home as I just send out via my ISP's SMTP server, but a bit of an issue when out and about.

    I definitely recommend doing it though. It makes life a lot easier when you not only have your Inbox, but also your Sent Items available wherever you are. IMAP as a protocol is also a lot more secure than POP3.

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