Convert a POP Email Account To IMAP In Mac Mail 4


Convert a POP Email Account To IMAP In Mac Mail


Years ago if you had an email account and you want to download it to your computer, you would use POP to download you email to your Mac. This was all well and good, but then people decided to have more than one device, such as phones, tablets and other computers and wanted to have their email on said device. This presented a problem since POP was a download service, it meant that each device would have one copy of the email and they couldn’t talk to each other. The method of IMAP was developed and has steadily become more popular. This method allows you to manage your email on every device, and each device will update based on the changes made. Every device will have the same email copy. This post is going to tell you how to change your POP based email to IMAP on Mail. Although you could do this with any email client.


This method will first backup your old emails. If you have Time Machine attached it should do this for you automatically however it is always worth having a second backup.

To backup your email go to the menu bar and select Mailbox > New Mailbox. Enter a suitable name such as ‘backup’. Ensure the mailbox is ‘On Your Mac’.

Always backup. In case everything goes wrong.

Select your inbox you are going to move in the sidebar. Select every email by pressing Command + A, then drag these emails into this mailbox. The mailbox is located in the sidebar. Do the same with your sent emails and drafts. This backup your emails into a new mail box which is preserved.

The Transition

We can now make the transition to IMAP. Unfortunately there is no simple option. In essence we are deleting the old account and adding a new one. First thing is to disable the old POP account. Open Mail preferences, select the accounts tab and your email account in the little sidebar. Click the advance button. Within these settings uncheck the option ‘Enable this account’. This will remove the mailbox from Mail, but still keep all of the settings.

Disable the account to stop yourself getting mixed up.

New Emails

We can now add back the account, but select the IMAP option. This basically involves adding a new account, but with the correct settings. Select File > Add Account, and you will be given the option to add a new email address. Enter your email address and password.

We can now add back in our mailbox.

On the next screen, ensure you select IMAP from the list and the incoming server to the correct address. This is usually Fill out the other fields as necessary. It is worth noting that IMAP has to be enabled at your email host. Gmail, for example has this disabled by default, so you have to enable it within the settings.

Adjust the settings so they are correct. Ensure the drop down says IMAP.

Your mac will then spend what seems like an age downloading, updating, changing and modifying emails on you Mail so they match what they are on the server. Let your email client sort itself out. When it is done, what it present on your Mac will be present on the server and every other device. Mail or your email client will now be using IMAP for all of its emails.

Delete The Old

The final step is to remove the old emails and account from your computer. Open preferences again and select the account tab. Select your old POP email account and press small minus button at the bottom of the little sidebar. This will give you a prompt to delete your old emails and remove the account. There is no point in having it.

Remove the old email box to delete the old emails.

When everything is all square and the new account works, you can delete the mailbox we used at the beginning as a backup.


Changing from POP to IMAP doesn’t take the long. The longest part of the process is letting your email client configure itself with the email server with IMAP. Once everything is done it should act and behave in the same way as before. However now, any change you make will update on all devices that are running IMAP for that email account.

If you have any questions or comments about this process please leave one using the comments box below.

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