First off, you may be wondering what POP and IMAP are. Simply put, they are two different mail technologies that devices (Smart Phones, iPhones, Blackberries) and desktop applications (Outlook, Mail.app, Thunderbird) use. They connect with a mail server, such as Gmail, AOL, or even your Gator Mail and grab the messages stored on the server.
This brings me to the purpose of writing this little blog post and article. When reading your mail elsewhere, it is important to make sure that you only read things once. This is the main difference between POP and IMAP. POP is a one way street in terms of mail technology. The device simply only asks the server to display the mail in the user’s inbox. If you read the mail on your device (phone, laptop), the next time you read your mail from a different location, it will be marked as unread. This becomes very unproductive. On the other hand, the IMAP technology is a two way street. Once the device makes a request to download the mail, it marks the mail as read on the server so the next time you log into your mail account from a different location, it will be marked as read.
IMAP is handy especially when you have your mail synced to different devices. For instance, I can have my Gmail account synced to my iPhone, and I know that once I read an email from my phone, if I log into my Gmail account from my desktop account, I don’t have to re-read all those emails. I can simply start off where I left off, which is with the new messages that have downloaded into my inbox.
This brings me to the reason I am writing this post. Within the last few months, some of my friends (Dorian, Sarah, Hayley, Aundre, Rachel) have gotten MacBooks (Pros) and I must admit that I am a bit jealous. While I am unable to get a MacBook (Pro) for college, being able to play on theirs for the time being is good enough for me 😀 I know specifically that Sarah and Aundre synced their Gmail accounts to their Mail.app Application on their Macs and I foresee that they probably noticed that they have to mark their email accounts as read each time. Once from within the desktop application, and another time once they log into their Gmail manually through Firefox, etc.
By default, most mail providers use POP because it is a staple for any Desktop Mail Application, but making the switch to using IMAP settings will definitely save time, and lower frustration levels. I hope this may point some readers in the right direction they want to take with reading their mail from their desktop.
For Gmail users, there are convinient explanations and instructions on how to get your Gbox setup using IMAP.