Google has just started rolling out one of the most requested Gmail features: IMAP support! Much like POP3 access this will let you retrieve your email in third-party email clients such as Mozilla Thunderbird or Microsoft Outlook, but it has distinct advantages over POP3. We’ll get to those in a second, but first we want to tell you what to do if you don’t see the new IMAP option in your email account settings.
I didn’t see it in any of my Gmail accounts either after I read about this over at Download Squad. I decided to try and “refresh” my account by logging out and then logging back in. Wowsers! It worked. As you can see in the screenshot above I had the new IMAP settings located right underneath the POP configuration section. So if you don’t see the settings try logging into Gmail again, and it might not hurt to try it in a different browser that has the cookies and cache cleared.
So why is IMAP better? As you can see in the screenshot above the IMAP section doesn’t ask you what to do when messages are accessed from your email client. That’s because IMAP, unlike POP3, supports two-way communication between the email client and Gmail. Here’s why that’s cool:
- If you read/delete a message in, lets say Outlook, the same action will be taken on the message in your Gmail account.
- If you put an email in a folder, for example “Personal”, in Outlook it will also be labeled as “Personal” on Gmail.
The Gmail support page has setup instructions for Outlook Express, Outlook 2003, Outlook 2007, Apple Mail, Windows Mail, Thunderbird 2.0, iPhone, and more. If you can’t tell I’m pretty excited about this!