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IMAP : not really downloads the messages?

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#1 cafejose


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Posted 12 July 2017 - 02:57 AM

Does IMAP for an email client not really download the email messages for offline reading later?  Does IMAP only let you see each message one-at-a-time when you open each?

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#2 britechguy


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Posted 12 July 2017 - 10:54 AM

It entirely depends on how you have your e-mail client interact with the IMAP server.


Usually in the settings there is something that allows you to specify that message bodies are to be downloaded for the latest messages, usually based on a certain period of time (say, 14 days) so that they will be available offline.


Mine certainly are in all of the e-mail clients I'm using with IMAP for messages that are fairly new to the inbox.   If I am offline and try to access something from, say, a year ago I will get an error that the message is not available.


Even Gmail's web interface allows you to specify that IMAP messages "of a certain age" should always be downloaded for offline access.  That being said, the premise of IMAP in general is to download the message headers and to retrieve the message bodies on demand.  In the case of mobile devices this can save a lot of traffic on your data plan if you're not actually reading your messages via the mobile device, but just looking at what's landed in your inbox.  In my Gmail interface on my mobile device it allows me to choose how many days of e-mail headers to sync (I've chosen 20 days) but I've never tried to determine whether that sync includes the message bodies or not.

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