Synching MacMail between 2 Macs

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by alanfoxil, Feb 12, 2010.

  1. alanfoxil macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2010
    #1
    Is there any way to synch MacMail between two or three macs, without buying Apple's MobileMe? I have managed to synch all my documents, music and photos rather easily, but can't figure out where MacMail files are stored.

    Or is this a clever ruse on Apple's part to make me buy MobileMe?

    I'm operating in OS 10.5.8 (Leopard)
     
  2. RaceTripper macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    May 29, 2007
    #2
    Use IMAP to access your email. Then your mail is stored on the server and each Mac can synch with the email server for local copies.
     
  3. flynz4 macrumors 68040

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    Portland, OR
    #3
    +1

    I use IMAP gmail accounts (3 of them) plus an IMAP mobile me account across four Macs... and it works flawlessly.

    /Jim
     
  4. monokakata macrumors 68000

    monokakata

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    Location:
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    #4
    You asked where the Mac Mail material is stored.

    I'm on SL, but I don't think the locations have changed.

    Let's say that your user folder is Alan.

    Alan/library/mail

    should hold your main mail store.

    Then there will be

    Alan/library/mail downloads

    But you'll also need to synch

    Alan/library/preferences/com.apple.mail.plist


    IMAP is fine (I have IMAP accounts) but it doesn't solve every problem.
     
  5. RaceTripper macrumors 68030

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    May 29, 2007
    #5
    What doesn't IMAP solve in terms of syncing mail to multiple mail client devices? It's the common solution to what the OP asked about. And it will work across different devices and different operating systems.
     
  6. monokakata macrumors 68000

    monokakata

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    #6
    Well, what the OP seemed to want was the location of his mail files, wasn't it? And nobody was answering that.

    Here's an IMAP problem that I have. It may well be that there's an easy solution, but if so I haven't found it. I admit I haven't looked very hard, because I have a "hybrid" solution that works for me.

    For various reasons, it's important for me to have a local mail store on my various Macs, as well as the ability to access my IMAP accounts from any machine, anywhere. I also need to use rules to place emails in folders.

    When I switched my accounts to IMAP a year or so ago, I discovered that if my rules downloaded emails from the IMAP server to Mac-A, then when Mac-B accessed the IMAP store later, the downloaded emails were not available there. So for example, if Mac-A and Mac-B were all synched up, so that their local stores were identical (which I do with Chronosync), and go off on a field trip and use Mac-B there (with rules) then when I get back to base and access my IMAP store with Mac-A, the messages downloaded via rules into Mac-B aren't on the server.

    My workaround has been to disable rules on Mac-B (and Mac-C, and the others), and leave the messages on the IMAP server. Back at base, I fire up the rules, the messages go where I want them to, I resynch the mail stores before my next trip, and I'm good.

    I do not want to keep 100% of my mail on the IMAP server. I do understand that it's possible to create folders on the IMAP server, and leave everything there. But there are good reasons why I don't want to do that.

    Am I missing something basic here?
     
  7. RaceTripper macrumors 68030

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    #7
    The location of the mail is a follow-on question and doesn't address the core problem. He really wanted to know how to synch mail across computers. That's what I answered with the IMAP solution. In addition, trying to synch the physical ~/libraryMail filesystem across multiple computers is the last thing I would try. That's just making things way more difficult than they need to be.

    These aren't flaws in IMAP. You just don't want to use IMAP the way it's meant to work.

    If you are creating local folders and moving mail from the IMAP server to the local folders, then yes, they won't be available on other clients. But that's not an IMAP issue. You just aren't using it correctly if you expect to synch across devices. As you already hinted, the correct way is to define the folders on the IMAP server. But you say you don't want to keep 100% of your mail on the server. Again, that's a choice you make, not a flaw in the way IMAP works.

    I use IMAP and have access to all my mail (sent and received) on my MBP, within Windows running in Fusion, my iPhone, and on both Windows XP and Windows 7 running on a dual boot Dell laptop. I define my folders on the IMPA servers I use, and I don't use local folders. I still have local copies of everything for offline viewing. Well, I don't sync local copies of *all* my mail on the iPhone, although I guess I could if I wanted to.

    Nevertheless, it's deceptive and unhelpful to say IMAP doesn't solve problems when those problems aren't ones IMAP is intended to address.
     
  8. flynz4 macrumors 68040

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    #8
    Other than the bolded section above... IMAP does exactly what you want to accomplish. I cannot even imagine what a "good reason" would be for "ME" to not want to keep my email on the IMAP server. I have tried to come up with scenarios such as privacy, security, illegal activities, immoral activities, work/personal conflict, legal discovery/liability, technical issues, storage capacity, ease of synchronization, off-line usage, cost issues, etc... and I keep coming up blank... with IMAP constantly being a better solution than trying to synchronize machines by manipulating the file system.

    Taking it on face value that you have a valid reason not to use IMAP the way it is designed... I do not know of a good solution for you... other than to restrict your email usage to just a single machine.

    /Jim
     
  9. monokakata macrumors 68000

    monokakata

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    #9
    Wow, are you guys defensive, or what? I don't remember posting anything about "flaws."

    I have no dog in this fight, and see no reason to make it a fight anyway.

    And yes, I'm not using IMAP according to its design, because it doesn't quite suit my needs. That's what I meant by a "hybrid" solution. Is that a slam against IMAP? I don't think so.

    I use IMAP, I use POP, and I've been synching Macs, PCs, Alphaservers, and PDP-11s to each other for nearly three decades. For me, synching is trivially easy.

    Jim, you're trying too hard to find reasons. Extended time offline (measured in days) is an important one. Sure, I could copy and paste what I need, and thus have local copies, but that would be much more work than maintaining my hybrid solution.

    Relax! The OP will do what he wants to. At least he now knows where his mail is, assuming he's reading. Maybe we'll hear from him -- he's the guy it's all about, not me. Or you.
     
  10. RaceTripper macrumors 68030

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    #10
    Relax, we're not attacking you. We're discussing the IMAP solution, and the discussion gives the OP more information to make an appropriate decision. :)
     
  11. flynz4 macrumors 68040

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    #11
    Help me out here. How does being offline for multiple days advantage either type of synchronization? In either case, the local copy of your email is out of sync.

    /Jim
     
  12. monokakata macrumors 68000

    monokakata

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    #12
    Whoa. Let's get to the end of this as soon as we can.

    Being offline for multiple days isn't a synchronization problem, of course. But it does present an access problem, if everything is up there on the IMAP server, and I need an email that hasn't been ever stored locally.

    That's all there is to it.
     
  13. RaceTripper macrumors 68030

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    May 29, 2007
    #13
    Mail.app keeps local copies of my IMAP directories all the time. All you have to do in go into
    Preferences...->Accounts->[some_account]->Advanced and select "Keep copies of messages for offline viewing: All messages and their attachments."
    I'm pretty sure most other IMAP clients worth anything have the same or similar facility.

    I'm with Jim. I just don't see how there's a problem with IMAP and local mail storage, that some other sort of filesystem synchronization solves or does better. I just remembered that when I used POP3 dealing with mail really sucked.
     
  14. flynz4 macrumors 68040

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    Portland, OR
    #14
    One of us is really confused.

    When you connect your computer to the email server... you will automatically get local copies of all of your emails... irrespective if you use POP3, or if you use IMAP. Plus:

    1) Any read mails (on any machine) will be marked as read on all machines
    2) Any mails filed into folders (on any machine) will be stored in those same folders on all machines

    Basically... all of your machines will have the same exact view of email, and you can perform operations on your email from any machine. If you are offline (ex: on a flight with no internet access)... you can still access all of your email, read all of your store messages, etc... that existed the last time you synced... and when you connect to the internet again, it will automatically sync to all your machines.

    So... going back to your original request... it does absolutely everything that you want... except that your email will be saved on the server... which is something you do not want. My premise is since that is something that you obviously do not want... that IMAP does not work for you. I also stated that I know of no other email syncing solution that will meet your needs. I am not trying to convince you to use IMAP. I am just trying to describe that it meets all of your criteria except one. I still do not understand the importance of that particular requirement... but clearly IMAP does not support it.

    /Jim
     
  15. monokakata macrumors 68000

    monokakata

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    #15
    Hmm. I've had that set on since I switched my two main accounts to IMAP.

    Without quoting Jim's comment here -- Jim, I think what you're saying is that if, for example, I created folders for Jim and Racetripper on the IMAP server, that Mail would then create Jim and Racetripper folders on any or all of my Macs? And further, that when the IMAP server updates/synchs, that either by pushing or pulling, the Jim and Racetripper folders are kept updated on the local machines?

    If that's indeed how it goes, then yes, it's unimportant to me whether everything is stored out there on the IMAP server (no, no legal, moral, or ethical problems there....) so long as it's all mirrored on every Mac.

    Now -- what about rules? If I use rules (if message is from Jim, put it into Jim, if from Racetripper....) then are you saying that the rules operate on the IMAP server, distribute the messages accordingly among the folders on the server, and then update/download all the Macs appropriately?

    That would be good news for me, if that's the way it works.
     
  16. flynz4 macrumors 68040

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    #16
    Yes... you have it exactly right.

    Regarding rules... most servers will allow you to run rules on the server as the mail arrives and the server can place the mail into the various folders for you. If you run the rules on a client, any changes will still propagate throughout your mail system. For example, if I had a local rule that said to move all mail from you into a "monokakata folder"... then it would propagate across all machines.

    It is important to note that you create "IMAP server folders"... not "local folders". The IMAP system will automatically create the local folders for you, and keep them synchronized.

    I use 3 different Gmail IMAP server accounts, plus my Mobile Me IMAP account. One beautiful benefit of the Gmail accounts is that even when you delete a file locally... Gmail will keep it around forever. Hence... I can log into gmail on the web, and find any email that I deleted years ago. Every now and this become extremely useful.

    I think you and I are on the same page now. Experiment with IMAP... and I suspect that you will end up being delighted. I hope that my tenacity helped.

    /Jim
     
  17. RaceTripper macrumors 68030

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    #17
    Yes

    Yes, that's pretty much the point of using IMAP, as opposed to using POP3 (which is so last century).

    Yes. I use rules all the time with no problem. As long as rules operate on the IMAP folders, no issue with synching. If you run a Mail.app rule, it operates on the Mail copies of the folders, then the folders sync back to the IMAP server. If you have GMail rules, they run on the server and then sync with your local copies.

    I use Mail.app and IMAP with Gmail, Mobileme, and my work IMAP email. It all works great.
     
  18. flynz4 macrumors 68040

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    Portland, OR
    #18
    I'll give a simple example of how powerful this can be:

    I choose to put a bunch of "personal folders" in my mobile me account... even though I seldom use that account for communication. One of the folders is a "Travel" folder... and in there I put subfolders for each of my planned trips.

    Let's say I am at home on my iMac, and I make airline, hotel, and rental car reservations for a trip to Florida on March 1st. Each of the confirmations will come into my primary Gmail account. I can simply drag those email into my mobile me folder named "2010-03-01 Florida" located within the travel folder. Now... when I am on the road... I can check the data on my company owned MacBook Pro, my personal MacBook Air, or my iPhone (and soon my iPad). Even though the mail originally arrived in my Gmail account... simply dragging it moved it to mobile me... and synced across every computer that I own.

    Because I use gmail as my server... years from now (long after I deleted the emails)... I may become curious on what I paid for my Florida hotel in 2010. I can log into Gmail... and even though the mail had been deleted years earlier, I can retrieve it within a few seconds.

    /Jim
     
  19. flynz4 macrumors 68040

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    Portland, OR
    #19
    Regarding the bolded section above: One more important thing that you may not realize...

    Once you have the IMAP account set up in MAIL.APP... you do not even need to go to the server to create a new folder. Just go into the sidebar within the particular IMAP account, and create the folder there. It will automatically create the folder on the IMAP server, which will then propagate across all of your machines.

    This WILL NOT work if you create the new folder within the "On My MAC" section of the sidebar. You must create the new folders within the specific IMAP account.

    /Jim
     
  20. RaceTripper macrumors 68030

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    #20
    Yes, you only truly achieve Mail.app IMAP nirvana when the "On My Mac" is empty, collapsed, and you wish you could just delete it from the sidebar and be done with it altogether. ;)
     
  21. monokakata macrumors 68000

    monokakata

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    #21
    Nice, guys. Thanks. What you describe is basically what I thought would happen when I switched my POP accounts to IMAP, except that it didn't.

    It seems clear to me, now, that the big piece I missed was to create folders within the IMAP mailboxes rather than in "On My Mac," which is where they were originally.

    Sheesh. Always something to learn. Sorry if I seemed testy.

    Off to experiment.
     
  22. macpeach55 macrumors 6502

    macpeach55

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    Aug 26, 2010
    Location:
    Germany, & the Rest of the known World
    #22
    I just came across this thread, and am resurrecting it because it is Golden!

    I have just moved to an iMac / MBP combo from years of just MBP, and the one thing that always stopped me was the difficulty of syncing "On My Mac"!
    But using the IMAP approach is perfect . I have never come across a proper explanation of how to use it like this before, so a (very late) thank you to the contributors of this thread. My two Macs are now happily synced.:D
     

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