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The Ultimate Guide for switching from a PC to a Mac
(Part 2 - coming soon)

Friday, February 1, 2008

The Mail app and Gmail!

This works on both Tiger and Leopard.  I know this only applies to Gmail users, but a lot of people are using Gmail and this will greatly improve the way Mail handles your emails. I really liked .Mac Mail when I first started using it and the reason is that it syncs in a much better way than Gmail. If you use both the web and the Mail interface with your Gmail account, you probably often receive an email you just created on another interface in your inbox. It is terribly annoying. The main reason is that this is with POP. .Mac uses IMAP which works much better in this case. The great news is that Google added IMAP support to Gmail. That was a few months ago. The only problem is that the Leopard version of Mail automatically sets up your Gmail account using POP. Here is how you can avoid this and get the advantages of IMAP:

1. Add your account to Mail while making sure you uncheck "Automatically set up account".

31 Comments:

Blogger Max said...

This is an awesome tip. I set my gmail account up in mail a while ago as a .pop How can i change it to an .imap??

January 31, 2008 at 11:41 PM  
Blogger Luuk said...

Unfortunately, you'll have to delete all mails from pop and create a new account in Mail, this time using imap. also beware: it takes some getting used to, Gmail through imap works different from other imap-mailproviders. Check out the Google help pages before starting the 'migration'. Good luck!

February 1, 2008 at 3:02 AM  
Blogger Adam said...

So i'd really like to make the switch but not keen on the idea of losing all my mail. So I have the program Mozy, which does an auto backup of my mail so what i'm wondering is, if i delete my acount, and then try and switch it, will mozy let me restore all those messages. Anyone happen to know?

Thanks

February 1, 2008 at 3:40 AM  
Blogger sindändùne said...

i switched and had to go back to POP :( because mail.app was trying to download ALL the emails I've stored over the years in my gmail account! and it kept freezing...

any ideas?

February 1, 2008 at 4:14 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

February 1, 2008 at 9:03 AM  
Blogger Dylan said...

Here is an important step:

When configuring the IMAP Gmail account make sure to look for an option that stores your inbox "on the server". Otherwise Mail will download all of the Gmail inbox to the local drive

February 1, 2008 at 10:11 AM  
Blogger Dylan said...

Here is an important step:

When configuring the IMAP Gmail account make sure to look for an option that stores your inbox "on the server". Otherwise Mail will download all of the Gmail inbox to the local drive

February 1, 2008 at 10:11 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

This may sound like a dumb question, but what is the difference if your gmail account is imap or pop? Is there any true benefit?

February 1, 2008 at 11:45 AM  
Blogger Joey said...

sindändùne -

When I opened up gMail to confirm that iMap was installed, there was an option to use iMap "from this point forward" or something like that, meaning it would not download old emails...

Hope that helps!

February 1, 2008 at 11:50 AM  
Blogger Joey said...

Matthew -

IMAP essentially allows people to sync their email address, so that once an email is deleted in one mail program (like Outlook), it is also deleted in gmail, on your phone, on another computer with an email program (Mac Mail), etc...

February 1, 2008 at 11:52 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

thanks!

February 1, 2008 at 2:01 PM  
Blogger Jay said...

You don't have to delete all your mail before switching from POP to IMAP. You just need to put your existing Gmail messages into folders (make sure they are normal folders, NOT smart folders). I switched from POP to IMAP and it only deleted my messages from the inbox, not the ones in folders. So I managed to keep all my mail whilst switching from POP to IMAP.

February 3, 2008 at 8:44 AM  
Blogger Anh said...

Jay -

How do you make folders? I've been trying to figure it out for awhile now! All I can seem to do is make labels, which is the only way I've been organizing my emails. Please help!

February 4, 2008 at 1:06 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

In order to create a folder.. Apple calls them Mailboxes.. you go to the Mailbox menu in Apple Mail and click New Mailbox .. It is important to not use New Smart Mailbox as all this is is a search folder like GMail offers on their website.. not an actual container of messages. When the assistant for creating the folder comes up, if you don't want it to be a sub folder to the Inbox chooose On My Mac and it will put it below the last folder (usually Junk or Trash depending on your configuration). Also if you want to nest the mailbox folders you can do that just select the parent mailbox folder you want before you choose New Mailbox from the Mailbox menu and you will notice a message stating that the folder you create will be a child of.. *foobar mailbox* foobar being my parent mailbox insert the name of the appropriate parent :-)

I hope you enjoy.

February 6, 2008 at 1:48 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

You may also use the "tool" gear button at the bottom of the list of mailboxes and choose New Mailbox there. Also there is the option to view as small icons on this menu if you are like me and make a lot of mailbox folders. I also should clarify.. if you want the mailbox to be top level of the list (not subordinate to other mailbox folders) you should choose the main Inbox on the Mailbox list before selecting New Mailbox from the Mailbox menu. If it winds up in the wrong place you can delete the mailbox or simply drag and drop it to the correct place you want it on the list.

February 6, 2008 at 1:51 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

I would not Use Mozy for the task you want.. I've used it and it's ok.. but quirky. I recommend creating a mailbox and moving your Inbox contents to the backup mailbox you just created then if you want to switch to imap, log into Gmail first and set up IMAP in it's Prefs so that it works right. Then go add the appropriate Account in Apple Mail's Prefs. I went back to just using POP cause when I started using GMail way back when it was new, I started out with POP and have gotten used to it. I don't tend to ever log in or store any email on GMail's server anyways. I only use Apple Mail. I have my computer setup to where I can remote into it from anywhere in the world using Logmein.com which is extremely easy to use. Not everyone would think of this. It bypasses the need for .Mac and anything else :P

February 6, 2008 at 1:54 AM  
Blogger sindändùne said...

Cheers Joey!

February 6, 2008 at 7:39 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Awesome tip! Just what I was looking for. I'm new to the whole Mac experience and this was one of the very few complaints I had. Thanks.

February 11, 2008 at 6:58 PM  
Blogger greg said...

Is it possible to create an IMAP account without deleting the POP account?

February 12, 2008 at 2:08 AM  
Blogger gshicks said...

It is possible but it is not something you would want as you would then be receiving every new email message twice. Once on IMAP and then again on POP, and then if POP was not set to leave the message on the server it would then delete the message from the server like it's supposed to do and then it would disappear from IMAP. This makes undue work for your mail client and can complicate things. It might cause Mail.app to be unstable though I doubt it. The idea you ask is just illogical to the functioning of receiving email.

What Apple Mail does is it associates your email messages to the account you receive them in by default. If you only have one account setup (POP?) for one email address then you never notice this functionality. Until you setup a second account. Then you get two inboxes, one for each address that are nestled in a drop down arrow fashion below the main Inbox. So if you click on Inbox you see everything, if you click on one level inferior mailbox for a specific email account you see only the mail for that account. You can drag your messages to any inferior mailbox you want however and they will stay there. This is why we tell people make a new mailbox folder and call it something like "backup inbox messages". Or whatever you please... and then move the contents of your inbox there.. before adding the new IMAP and deleting POP. then once you have your new email account and have deleted the old one you can then move those messages to the new Inbox, or whatever you want to do. The same applies to the Trash, Drafts, Junk, and Sent Mailbox folders for any account.

If you want to test out how this works, you can do so by ensuring you have more than one email account setup and then in Mail preferences you can deactivate one of your accounts (In the Advanced tab of that account under Preferences uncheck "Enable this Account" then save the changes by clicking another account in the prefs). Then notice how all it's associated mailboxes, Inbox, Drafts, Sent, Junk, and Trash all disappear. They come back to normal when you re-activate the account with all their messages intact.

This probably sounds confusing but in order for IMAP to work all the messages must remain on the server, in this case GMail's server. The only logical reasons to use IMAP is if you want to access the messages from more than one computer in a semi-"live" view of the mailbox on the server itself. The copy of the message in IMAP that is on the local computer is just a "cache" kind of like a web browser cache. Of course you can modify the server by deleting something locally and emptying the trash in Mail, Then Mail.app synchronizes with the IMAP server deleting that message off the server.

You can also of course set up one computer as POP and one as IMAP. Which works similar to both computers being set to IMAP except the one one set to POP can delete the messages off of the server when downloading them, whereas the IMAP one only browses what is left on the server at any given time (New Messages Only?)... A good example of this would be someone who shuts down their computer when they're not home or uses a Mobile computer.. with POP.. and then has an iPhone or iPod Touch that is set to IMAP.. it only sees new messages and leaves the read messages on the server. Then when the computer does it's POP receive new mail command it just gets the mail off the server and then deletes all messages off the server and they magically disappear from the iPhone or iPod Touch though you now have them on the computer.

Another good example is where you use IMAP on the computer because you do not receive large attachments very often or even a high volume of email (2-5 messages a day) and you want to store everything on the mail server (GMail in this case). Mind your mailbox size limit with this option. The reasoning is that when you are not home you are the type of person who often access your email from the GMail website portal and possibly you have to leave your computer on at home all the time, for some reason or you want all messages to appear whether they're new or not in the GMail website.. (If you don't leave your computer at home on or you don't care if old messages show up you can still use POP and do this as the newly arrived mail just sits there waiting until the mail client (in this case Mail.app on the computer) checks and receives them and then deletes them off the server.

I hope this helps everything make more sense. This is the why there is POP and IMAP versus just a single way of doing mail. For a long time POP was the only way. IMAP was invented as an alternative, many Internet Service Providers do only POP, GMail was like this for a long time. IMAP is newer (thought it has been around for a long while), and it's different. GMail offers it because handheld devices do not have enough room to store all email messages and their attachments. Not everyone is the same kind of email user. I use POP because I keep all my email for the most part. I have about 60GB or more worth of email and/or attachments dating back to before 2002. I could not possibly store all of this on GMail's server or anyone else's either.

Caveat.. From time to time as an IMAP user you may find yourself running out of server-side storage space for your index of messages. If you receive a message with very large attachments (multiple photos?) that say are 10MB total in size and you've got 40 of these types of messages because a relative sent you all of their vacation photos... This will eat up your storage quota on the server. You must then save all those file attachments somewhere else on your computer (The Pictures Folder or The Downloads Folder, etc.) and then delete the messages and synchronize the Mailbox with the GMail server. Then you will get all that space back as the photos are no longer stored in GMail, but only on your computer. This applies to any file attachment that is particularly large and can be emailed (Gmail's limit is somewhere around 20MB per message).

February 12, 2008 at 4:11 PM  
Blogger greg said...

Thanks for the comprehensive response! I was thinking that temporarily being set up with POP and IMAP simultaneously might allow a person to address any unexpected bugs or undesirable results of making a complete and sudden switch.

February 12, 2008 at 4:17 PM  
Blogger gshicks said...

It is more like IMAP is for a specific type of user or goal. Nobody else should be messing with it if they don't have the need for it's features.

February 12, 2008 at 4:23 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

Has anyone else had a problem with their Smart Mailboxes and Gmail's IMAP service? I've noticed that my smart mailboxes now have 2 copies of every email. Any way to get around this? I did a Google search to see if anyone else has had this problem - I found other people with the problem but no solutions. Thanks!

February 21, 2008 at 10:28 AM  
Blogger roomman said...

Really useful conversation guys! Now here is a new problem to solve: how do you use Gmail IMAP with Mail.app - with multiple POP accounts redirecting to Gmail - so that when you reply to a message it returns it from the appropriate address?

February 21, 2008 at 11:31 AM  
Blogger gshicks said...

rooman: you actually would not use it in this way. You would remove the POP retrieval you have setup in GMail and instead setup the POP accounts directly in Mail since you can have as many email accounts as you want setup in Mail.app so long as they are either POP, IMAP, or MS Exchange. (Tip, .Mac can be either POP or IMAP but defaults as a special setup of IMAP). Then when you try to compose a message, send a reply or a forward you can then select what account to send it from. The only drawback to doing this is that none of your POP messages are stored on GMail. This is what you would want if you intend to primarily use only Apple Mail to get your email.

You could of course set the POP retrieval on GMail to not delete the messages from server and the same for each POP account in mail (set it to leave on server for one week). Then they both can have the messages but you will retrieve them twice in GMail since it has no folder sorting rule capability. So you would retrieve the message once from the original account and then again from GMail.. very undesirable.

February 21, 2008 at 1:35 PM  
Blogger roomman said...

gshicks: thanks for getting back to me. What you suggest mirrors the way I work currently, and have done for years. However, I travel extensively and want to get all my mail - and I have several POP accounts for different bits of business - into one account that can a) sync with my Powerbook, b) sync with my symbian mobile device, and c) access it via a browser when I have neither my laptop nor my mobile.

Effectively I am looking to streamline what I have, so that when away I don't need to visit several POP accounts... in other words I am lazy!?

The outstanding problem is that, while this is all made possible by IMAP, I am unable to reply via the email address the message was sent to from Mail.app.

Any ideas?

February 21, 2008 at 5:09 PM  
Blogger clinglee said...

So I'm trying to switch from Gmail POP to IMAP on Apple Mail (Leopard) and was able to successfully set up the Gmail IMAP account (disabling the check email feature on both POP and IMAP while I'm setting up) and tried to 'copy' my messages from my local Gmail POP account to the Gmail IMAP account. For some reason, it copied one of about 10 messages and now I have no idea how to get the other Gmail POP messages back. Can anyone help?

September 3, 2008 at 8:08 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

Since you asked there is this tidbit. When you configure more than one account in Apple Mail, whether it be POP or IMAP or MobileMe or whatever, you will get a choice on composing a new message of which account to send it from, even if they all have the same SMTP server in common. There is also a Reply-To function available if you click on the little button to the left of the subject line. These are just all standard MAPI mail headers. Different clients implement features differently as I'm sure you are aware. Also, with Apple Mail when you reply to an email, if you have that account configured to be received on Apple Mail it will automatically reply to the same account the original message came from. One advantage in Apple's court is they make a sub-mailbox for each account and keep everything sorted for you automatically.

September 16, 2008 at 2:31 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

clinglee: I'm not too sure what you have done. Maybe you clicked on disable on your pop account and all the messages are hidden? Sounds strange, whatever the case may be.

September 16, 2008 at 2:46 PM  
Blogger subtlehead said...

Hopefully i didn't already miss this, if so i apologize...but what if i wanted Mail to check my messages, but leave any attachments on the server so i can download them when i know i have time or veiw them in a webmial app? How do i configure Mail to do this?

September 24, 2009 at 10:26 AM  
Blogger Jeni and Nate said...

I was having trouble with my outgoing Gmail POP server on Mail and so I went into system preferences and prematurely set up an IMAP account for the same Gmail account. Now I have two of everything in my inbox, but one copy (from the old POP account) is blank and all of my messages in Sent Mail and Drafts are also blank. Is there any way to get the content back? After reading your posts, I realize how bad of an idea I had, but I still hold out some hope in retrieving the content of my messages! Thanks in advance for any advice...

September 28, 2009 at 11:23 PM  

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