IMAP and Apple Mail

I’m working with some people whom I’ve helped to setup IMAP Mail accounts for addresses from their web server. The goal was to keep the emails on the server and accessible from multiple company computers.

The problem has been Apple’s not-so-intuitive explanation of which activities disassociate an email from the server (On-Your-Mac) and which actions preserve server location. Like most mac users, they are used to visually dragging things to sort them. Under some (at least) circumstances, this moves the email from the server to that specific mac.

My understanding is the current version of Mail sorts everything for you with menu/key commands and smart folders. All my tests on my setup show this is the way to go. However, they still have questions I am unable to satisfy (like “what if I accidentally dragged an email to a folder” or “if I accidentally drag it To-My-Mac can I put it back?”). Is there any knowledgable discussion of Practical IMAP in Apple Mail?

They are using Mavericks and it’s version of Mail app.


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I don’t think that IMAP is any different on any platform except maybe Gmail (which isn’t IMAP, but uses a “bridge” to make it appear that way to client applications).

The key to making folders work is to create them on the server, not the individual Mac. If you Control-click on a server/account name in the left column, you can create a folder on the server. Name it whatever you like. Drag individual messages into it, whatever.

Now all client applications on whatever machine see the same “truth”. And on the server, these folders are just flags set on the individual messages – they don’t consume space, or even move the messages anywhere. It’s all virtual. Even when you delete something in IMAP, it’s not really gone, just flagged as deleted and hidden from view in the Trash folder. Eventually it gets really deleted, but that’s just another abstraction anyway; the NSA still has a copy.

Walter


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Thanks, Walter - this is very helpful.

Mail is improving… besides cntrl-clicking, the New Mailbox command itself tries to distinct between server and On-My-Mac folders (Mailboxes=Folders?). The Mail app itself does the mailboxes automatically also when you choose sorting commands like “trash” or “junk” or “send” or “save draft” from the menus. The left side bar can be somewhat helpful also in sussing the sorting scheme.


Ernie Simpson

Walter wrote:

The key to making folders work is to create them on the server, not the individual Mac. If you Control-click on a server/account name in the left column, you can create a folder on the server. Name it whatever you like. Drag individual messages into it, whatever.


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