Print 23 comment(s) - last by BMFPitt.. on Oct 26 at 1:46 PM

Google IMAP support will improve Thunderbird and iPhone access.

Gmail, Google's email service, is adopting the Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) version 4 at last.  Traditionally Google has used Post Office Protocol to access messages, which is currently in its 3rd iteration (POP3).

The move to IMAP4 brings about some key advantages.  One is that IMAP4 will automatically sync your account.  With POP3, you could check your emails in Thunderbird or on your notebook, however, if you logged into your account elsewhere, your messages would likely still be marked as unread.  This creates unnecessary inconvenience.

One of IMAP4's other advantages is the ability to perform server side searches, which saves the time and resources required to download messages and then perform the search on POP3 systems.  Also, before only one client (i.e. Thunderbird or your iPhone) could be connected to a mailbox at a time.  IMAP4 allows multiple clients to simultaneously connect.  IMAP4 also allows users the ability to edit mailbox information on the server and easily move messages between mailboxes on the server side.

These improvements may mostly fly under the radar, but they will likely be welcome improvements for power users, and may even provide a bit more convenience to standard users.

The improvements are not currently available to all Gmail users, but Google is working fast to expand the service to everyone. "Don't fret if you don't see 'IMAP Access' yet under the Settings menu. We're rolling it out to everyone over the next few days," said Google on its "About Gmail" page.

While Gmail is blazing the way into IMAP4, most ISP provided emails are still using POP3.

It should be interesting to see how Google's software and resources handle the increased load that IMAP4 places on the system. It would not be surprising to see a few hiccups over the next few months.

Still, the shift is definitely a move in the right direction and opens up exciting new possibilities for Gmail users.  The move caps up a series of exciting news coming from Google that includes the development of a mobile OS, laying a trans-Pacific cable for "the Unity Project", the Google $30 million USD moon challenge, and the launch of Google News.

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By raskren on 10/24/2007 11:16:43 AM , Rating: 2
Is this turned on now?

RE: When?
By JasonMick on 10/24/2007 11:18:30 AM , Rating: 2
Thanks, I will post that in an update. It does say it in the Google link, that it will be turned on for various users over the next few days. Expect it soon!

I will be sure to add that to the article in an update asap (which will probably be sometime this afternoon)

RE: When?
By TomZ on 10/24/2007 11:20:18 AM , Rating: 3
It's a phased rollout. I just checked my account, and I don't see any option for IMAP yet.

RE: When?
By Johnmcl7 on 10/24/2007 8:45:35 PM , Rating: 2
On my first Gmail account which was set up a while back, the imap option is available. On an account I set up last week the option isn't there, which is a little annoying as I really need it for the latter one ;)

Great option from Google though, to try and make e-mail easier for my Dad I set him up with Outlook and pop with Gmail but he's having some of the usual pop sync issues, this should sort it all out.


By Slaimus on 10/24/2007 11:56:25 AM , Rating: 5
If everyone is using Thunderbird to access their mail system, how will they make money on Ads?

I hope that does not mean Ads in the email body.

RE: Ads?
By TomZ on 10/24/2007 12:17:28 PM , Rating: 2
I think Google is satisfied with having a large percentage of gmail users going through the web interface which serves context ads. It's no different than their situation with POP3 now. I use Outlook to pick up gmail via POP3 and I never see any ads unless I hit the gmail web site.

RE: Ads?
By Rav3n on 10/24/2007 12:42:36 PM , Rating: 2
Besides, they are still data-mining your each and every message that comes through the server.

As the article suggests, power users will notice the difference. The article doesn't take the liberty I am going to, by saying that for 75% of the users out there (give or take), they are very happy navigating to to check their mail. They probably don't even navigate to https, and they just use http.

On my BlackBerry, the easiest way I found to get my GMail was to download Google's Gmail client (I didn't need it filtering through my Exchange account, and I couldn't use the personal email option).

I think TomZ hits it when he talks about Google being fine with having people not always view ads. How many power users click on ads anyway?

calendar & contact sync
By yodataco on 10/24/2007 11:47:51 AM , Rating: 3
Since IMAP4 can be used to sync things other than just email, will Google use it to start syncing your Google Calendar & Contacts? That would be quite awesome for most people, and even better for iPhone users....

RE: calendar & contact sync
By Rotkiv on 10/24/07, Rating: 0
RE: calendar & contact sync
By yodataco on 10/24/2007 1:01:49 PM , Rating: 2
you can sync your google calendar & contacts with the iPhone over the air (OTA)?

RE: calendar & contact sync
By Darkskypoet on 10/24/2007 4:21:03 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, google is seeming to be laying the groundwork for an alternative to the standard exchange centric email systems in place for so many, and even to the blackberry email systems... i was quite expecting something like this, especially considering their plans for a mobile OS... A mobile OS needs email / scheduling / etc... And Here it is.. google on google for all ;)

Gmail beta
By Rotkiv on 10/24/2007 12:38:21 PM , Rating: 3
I know that this is off topic, but for how long will gmail remain in beta? Is it just an excuse in case their are any problems(not that I have had any) or something else?

RE: Gmail beta
By TomZ on 10/24/2007 1:39:50 PM , Rating: 2
That's a good point - seems like it's been in beta forever. Google is developing quite a reputation for perpetual beta phases.

RE: Gmail beta
By Zoomer on 10/24/2007 9:44:46 PM , Rating: 2
That's the whole point. An app must be extensively tested for a long period of time to ensure that it is bug free before being released.

Google is Indian-Giving!
By Mclendo06 on 10/24/2007 5:20:24 PM , Rating: 2
So I got extremely excited when I read this article as I have long wanted IMAP support from Google. As soon as I read the article, I jumped onto Gmail, checked settings, and was happy to see the IMAP option. I set up my client for it (in this case, Outlook 2003) and everything worked wonderfully. I went to some meetings and came back a few minutes ago, hit send-receive, and got a message that IMAP is not available for my account, and the option to enable/disable it is gone from the Gmail settings page. I would be interested to know if this has happened to others as well. Hopefully it will be back soon.

RE: Google is Indian-Giving!
By archcommus on 10/24/2007 6:34:18 PM , Rating: 2
It will probably be sporadic over the next few days, I wouldn't worry about it.

This is great to hear. If this also works with contacts and calendars, I could finally create/update contacts and calendar events within Outlook and have it automatically be stored server-side. Until now, I just created calendar events locally and didn't even bother with Google Calendar, and for contacts, to keep both Gmail and local copies up-to-date, I'd have to log in to Gmail, create the new contact there, and then download the new list into Outlook.

RE: Google is Indian-Giving!
By Fant on 10/24/2007 8:08:37 PM , Rating: 2
I'm happy to say I enabled it on my account, deleted my gmail pop3 account on my iphone, and added the imap account and it worked great. Deleted and read a few messages on my iphone and they showed up as read or deleted on the webmail. Awesome! Now if they can just add push notifications.

bad outlook
By Visual on 10/25/2007 5:12:52 AM , Rating: 1
now if only outlook could work with imap well...
actually i've not tried the 2007 version, but the 2003 and previous versions are so bad with it that it hurts. especially the way it doesn't hide messages marked as deleted.

RE: bad outlook
By archcommus on 10/25/2007 12:29:34 PM , Rating: 2
You can change the default view to do that. Really the only inconvenience of using IMAP in Outlook 2003 is having to hit "Purge Deleted Messages" every once in awhile.

Dammit, still no IMAP in Gmail for me.

RE: bad outlook
By Visual on 10/26/2007 4:14:22 AM , Rating: 2
every once in a while? you mean, every time you want to actually use your mail... and you should do it in each of your folders separately too. it is quite a hell if you get a lot of messages and use rules to automatically delete or move them around.

this approach also defeats the purpose of marking items as deleted instead of deleting them outright. keeping the deleted stuff is a good feature of the protocol, and they should be hidden from the normal view and displayed in a "trash" or something... instead outlook forces you to constantly purge your mailbox so you don't see spam, and in this way you may also purge items that you later decide you shouldn't have deleted...

btw i know how to change the default view to add a filter, but i dont see what the filter itself should say. there is no field that says "deleted" or such, not that i can find anyway.
if you know how, please enlighten me.

and that is surely not the only problem outlook has with imap. setting up multiple folders was something weird, with some folders not allowing subfolders; moving items between folders leaves a "deleted" copy; client-side rules that fail once due to a connection timeout or somesuch are disabled and never retried again until you go and manually reenable them, etc...
it's up to the server too, of course, but its also obvious outlook's support for imap is very poor.

oh and yes, whoever ms zealot out there rated me down above, feel free to repeat it on this post too.

By gramboh on 10/24/2007 12:21:31 PM , Rating: 2
This is pretty cool, especially if you don't have a corporate Exchange account/Blackberry at work. If you have a handheld this is really convenient. Hopefully no ads in e-mails and especially no appending crap to the bottom of the e-mail (e.g. "Sign up for Hotmail now!").

RE: Cool
By Rotkiv on 10/24/2007 12:41:26 PM , Rating: 2
Gmail only has the adds on the sides, not the other stuff which MSN and Yahoo adds to the messages. I don't know if there are adds on the mobile app though.

What they REALLY need now
By BMFPitt on 10/26/2007 1:46:55 PM , Rating: 2
Someone PLEASE invent a Thunderbird add-on that syncs your address book with GMail. I would love to use Thunderbird again, but without this feature I just can't because it's caused too many problems in the past with me not synching address books from webmail to Thunderbird and sending to old addresses.

"Let's face it, we're not changing the world. We're building a product that helps people buy more crap - and watch porn." -- Seagate CEO Bill Watkins
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