Gmail launching free IMAP email for all users

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gmail_icon.gifGoogle has today announced that it will be rolling out free IMAP email to all its Gmail users.

For the uninitiated, IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) is generally considered the best way to synchronise an email account across multiple devices.

At present, Google uses POP (Post Office Protocol) email, which is great if you have one computer or other device and download your email onto it all the time.

If, however, you’ve got multiple devices (say, a desktop PC, a laptop, an iPhone, and a BlackBerry) and you want your email to be fully up-to-date across all those devices, POP is no good. You need IMAP.

David Murray, Google’s Associate Product Manager, writes on the official Gmail blog:

For the past few years, we’ve offered POP access, which is similar to IMAP but lacks one critical feature: your changes made on other devices aren’t seen in Gmail when you log back in. Instead you are presented with a list of unread mail, and you must re-read and re-sort everything. For this reason, as soon as I started at Google, IMAP was one of the first things I asked about. Since then, I’ve seen countless blog posts, requests, chats, and just about everything else asking, “Are you guys ever going to do IMAP?” Well now I can say: Yes. Yes, we are doing IMAP. In fact, we are doing it for you for free on all devices and platforms.

And to activate it?

Just click the “Forwarding and POP/IMAP” tab in your Gmail “Settings” and turn it on. (Psst. If you don’t see the “IMAP” in the “Forwarding and POP/IMAP” tab, then check back soon. We are giving it to users as fast as we can).

This is great news, and means I can finally consider handling some of my IMAP email accounts via Gmail, and cash in on their great spam filtering technology.

Read the full announcement

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Andy Merrett