How to switch from POP to IMAP email access

Since POP accounts don’t support server-side synchronization of messages, such as indicating whether you’ve read a message or not, it’s disadvantageous to use a POP connection when accessing your email from multiple devices. To fix this, an IMAP connection is necessary. With IMAP, your mail clients (apps) have a larger set of communication options with which to talk to the server, and most importantly the messages remain server-side for access on all devices.

You’ll need to be sure your mail provider supports IMAP account types before proceeding. You may also wish to learn how much storage you’re allowed to use for your email account. If they do not support IMAP or their storage is minimal, get in touch! We can help get you set up with an IMAP email account that synchronizes across your devices.

Since mail apps are all designed differently, with access to settings in different places, we can’t provide a precise guide for every one of them. The following is an outline of the steps you’ll want to take with your mail app. These steps will likely need to be completed on a computer rather than a tablet or mobile device as mail apps on those devices often don’t support transferring messages across accounts.

  • Disable the POP account in your mail app, but do not remove it entirely
  • Set up a new account of type IMAP using the configuration provided by your mail host. It’s recommended to name both the POP and IMAP account clearly so that you can tell them apart (most mail apps provide an option to name the account).
  • Confirm the IMAP connection is working: make sure you can see your messages in the inbox and that you can receive and send mail.
  • Look for the inbox connected to the POP account and select all messages within (or all recent messages if you only need access to the most recent ones). Drag them to the IMAP account inbox. This will copy the emails back to the server. With thousands of messages and/or a slow Internet connection this could take hours. Less messages and/or using a faster Internet connection should take less time.
  • If your email server provider gives you webmail access, log in to that and confirm the messages are showing up.

If all the messages you transferred to the IMAP account are visible under the IMAP account, it’s now safe to remove the POP account from your mail app, or you may leave it as inactive if you prefer.

Allen is a self professed geek and technology lover. He's always playing with one of his various websites, and loves helping customers with theirs. He can often be found with a coffee (light roast, please) in his hand and a smile on his face... or with a plate of bacon. Mmm, bacon.

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