IMAP email question

If I close an IMAP email account, what does that mean about the individual emails on my Mac? i.e. do computers have local copies?

I have culled through my inbox, but my wife has not.

I called Apple support and asked my question. Crystal said as long as I did not delete the account, my local copies would remain. On my iMac deleting an account is not done in Apple Mail – rather in System Preferences. She said what I need to do is remove the check mark from “Enabled” in the Apple Mail Account list.

On the iOS devices I similarly do not want to delete the account. I do need to turn the account off. Settings; Mail; Accounts and go the actual account. Turn off the account by moving the green switch to the left.

Do not Delete the account.

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Just a quick reference, the IMAP protocol essentially mirrors the server contents of an email account on an email server. If you want to truly have a local copy (even if the account is deleted), change the protocol from IMAP to POP3. There is usually a setting to leave mail on the server if you wanted to keep it there as well with POP3.


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At least with the Thunderbird email client, you can have local folders, and move messages from your IMAP account into them (or vice versa). Either manually or by rule. Even deleting the IMAP account from Thunderbird won’t touch what’s in the local folders.


To stop the insecurities and the loss of emails, in Entourage/Outlook (Mac), I made Rule or two to Move all my emails with known contacts to a separate folder, I called it simply “All New Mail”, and that has worked for years now/ Flipping from POP to IMAP was really messed up, deleting on one device killed it everywhere, caused a few headaches at the time… I still check Deleted and Spam folders for errant items of interest, so far so good!

Other Rules are used to auto-delete known problem contacts.

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That’s normally the advantage of IMAP. The email can be read/deleted/filed on any computer. You would have to torture me before I would use POP3 again.

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As is often the case, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I don’t want my e-mails sitting on some server somewhere. If it’s not on my computer under my control, it’s not really mine. And if it’s on my computer, there’s no real benefit to IMAP. It’s acting just like POP.

You’d have to torture me to use IMAP.

Different strokes for different folks.


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I use it only because my providers of the time, at&t I think, mandated the change… Right in the midst of remodeling or some such goings on where I needed to keep messages to/from contractors, etc. And before we used texting so much. So some messages were lost, adding to the normal confusions… Rules fixed it to the provider can’t reach in and delete anything… So some adjustments…

Today, that same old email address,, under at&t/Yahoo control, resists setting up an account on either my Mac or my iPhone, and for a long time, even the online access via Yahoo ran me in circles about the password… Then later it worked again, but I don’t trust it, so we changed all or emails to another to get away from Yahoo/at&t…

We do have other accounts, gmail, mac, etc, but that they could mess up connections was/is frustrating…


Self-host your own free IMAP server, like Dovecot, for full control of your own email.

The benefit of IMAP is the consistent mailbox on every device. On my phone, I can reply to an email and file it away. Then at my PC, the email is already filed, and I can see the reply.

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That sure sounds familiar. I’ve had my email address since my first dial-up internet access with the local phone company (Southern New England Telephone), later bought by AT&T. I have it working on my iPhone fine. I overcame a lot of the password craziness by telling it to keep me logged in on my PC. When it does demand that I log in, it never accepts my password. But it has a facility to change my password, which I do. I change it to the same password as before and it accepts it!

Just this week I got it working with Outlook via IMAP so that I could have a local copy of my email too. That was quite tricky… I had to get AT&T to issue me a special password for use by a third-party program.

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Whatever works for you. I need access to my email from my PC and my phone. On my PC I use the Yahoo web interface, which I like very much. On my phone I use the Apple email app, which I find adequate.

For far too long I had no copy of my own, just what was on Yahoo. For a while I had Thunderbird on my PC; I would get on now and then, via IMAP, and download a local copy. Somewhere along the way that stopped working, and as far as I could tell Thunderbird no longer can do IMAP for my AT&T/Yahoo email. Earlier this week I did something I had sworn never to do… I installed Outlook, Microsoft’s email client. I got it working via IMAP, and made that local copy. It took a while, as it had to download about 100k emails. (70k of which relate to a mailing list I used to manage.)

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I’d also encourage migrating to a custom domain. Now you are not under the thumb of or any other provider. I pay $60/year for hosting and DNS registrar, some of the best money I spend.

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