Using PowerMail to access an IMAP4 server

One of PowerMail's most powerful features is its integrated support for both POP and IMAP servers. An IMAP4 (Internet Mail Access Protocol) server has certain advantages over a POP server, particularly for mobile users. For example, an IMAP server allows you to view messages without having to transfer them to your computer first. When you connect to an IMAP account, only the subject headers are transferred. You can then access selectively only those messages that interest you at the moment. This can be particularly significant if you receive large quantities of mail or if you are traveling and accessing your mail from a slow or unreliable dial-up connection, such as in an airport or hotel, for example. This is possible only with accounts that are specifically set up as IMAP accounts. Not all Internet Service Providers offer IMAP accounts. Contact your network administrator or Internet Service Provider to find out if IMAP is available.

Unlike POP3 which is batch-oriented, IMAP4 is connection-oriented. This means that there is a notion of session, during which PowerMail will be actively be in contact with the server whether you are doing something or not.

Creating an account for use with an IMAP server requires the same information to be entered in the accounts dialog as for a regular POP3 account except that you select "IMAP4" in the protocol pop-up menu.

While you can select several POP3 accounts to be checked one after another, at any given time you may only have one IMAP session active in PowerMail. Once a connection is established, PowerMail will obtain a list of all messages from the server, write this summary to a local cache file, and display these in a folder named INBOX which will become selected.

These messages are Remote items, meaning that they are not physically on your own hard disk and will disappear once disconnected. You can read a remote message the same as a local message, by clicking on it to select it. The message is then read from the server and appears in the Browser window. However, since the message remains on the server, the only way to view it after disconnection or to copy any enclosure to your hard disk is to make a local copy of the message.

To make a local copy of a remote message that can be accessed when disconnected:

  1. Connect to your IMAP server by choosing Connect from the Connection menu. Make sure that your IMAP account is checked for connection, then click OK.
  2. Drag the message to a local folder

Deleting messages from an IMAP server

To delete a message from an IMAP server:

  1. Drag the message to the Mail Trash. The message gets a grayed icon indicating that it is marked for deletion.
  2. Select "Erase (EXPUNGE) Deleted Messages" from the PowerMail menu.

The message is deleted from the IMAP server.

Moving messages from one folder to another on an IMAP server

Due to the way the IMAP specification was designed, the action of moving a message from one folder to another does not exist. When you drag a message from one IMAP folder to another, you actually make a copy and mark the original for deletion. The original message will appear with a gray icon until you select "Erase (EXPUNGE) Deleted Messages" from the PowerMail menu.

Remote archive folders on an IMAP server

The IMAP4 protocol also defines the notion of server-based folders. These are similar to the local folders that you can manage using PowerMail, except that they remain on the server and their contents are only available while you are connected.

Remote folders appear with a distinctive icon below the "Trash" icon in the upper-left pane of the Browser window.

To create a remote folder:

  1. Connect to your IMAP server.
  2. Choose New Folder from the Folders hierarchical menu in the File menu.
  3. Type a name for the folder.

Your folder is created on the server.

Note: You can create remote subfolders on an IMAP server.

To delete a remote folder:

  1. Connect to your IMAP server.
  2. Select the folder you wish to delete.
  3. Drag the folder to the Mail Trash.

The folder is deleted from the server.

Remember that when you are managing messages and folders on an IMAP server, PowerMail is merely issuing commands to the server according to the IMAP protocol. This differs completely from the way that PowerMail manages messages and folders locally when dealing with POP servers. Under certain circumstances, the exact behavior may vary slightly based on the IMAP implementation of any given server. PowerMail has been tested with a number of different IMAP servers.

Configuring the IMAP Options Root folder path

You can configure the root folder path for your IMAP account. PowerMail only displays the portion of the server folder hierarchy that you determine.

To configure the root folder path:

  1. Choose Mail Accounts from the Setup menu.
  2. Select the account for which you want to configure the root folder path.
  3. In the Receiving tab, click the Advanced disclosure triangle. The Advanced pane for the selected account appears.
  4. Enter the path you want PowerMail to use as the root, using the / character to delimit folder hierarchy, in the "Root folder path" field.

For example, to make the path the Mail folder inside the User folder inside the Omar folder, enter Omar/User/Mail/.

You can use wildcard characters. For example, Mail* will list all folders whose name begins with "Mail", while Mail/* lists only folders and messages inside the "Mail" folder.

To see all folders on the IMAP server, leave the root folder path blank.

Viewing only subscribed folders

PowerMail does not currently have an interface mechanism to subscribe to IMAP folders; however, using the root folder path described in the previous section, you can display subscribed folders previously set up by another e-mail client.

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