POP3 -for- email

In that family of email clients, there’s also mutt. Alpine is nano/emacs-like for the keybindings, mutt is vi like. Pick your poison. Both have decent IMAP support, as well as mailspool/maildir support.

I didn’t take it as toxic. I took it as humorous while also raising a valid question: What are the reasons to choose POP instead of IMAP? IMAP instead of POP?

I understand that humour is risky when tone and context are often missing in online communication.


I should add to my original response:

  • I don’t control all of the mail servers that I interact with. So it isn’t necessarily an immediate or easy option to switch to IMAP.

  • It is also not a clean option to use both protocols with the same mailbox - and it may not be possible to change existing clients (have to delete or disable POP account and add a new IMAP account - this is on the client side). However these are only practical considerations.

  • Some server-side searching in IMAP may be defeated by end-to-end encryption.

Just added the following tip.

If the incoming mail server or the outgoing mail server require a port number then specify the hostname as hostname:portnumber

For those following along at home - IMAP and SMTP are working.

I don’t care much for mail clients that think they know more than I do during configuration. Geary absolutely refuses to save the account configuration until it says that both IMAP and SMTP are correctly configured. I would have been happy enough to save the config on a ‘best effort’ basis for me to fix up later on. The result was that I had to type everything in multiple times - but I got there in the end.

Recent versions of Thunderbird have similar annoyance but Thunderbird at least allows the user to take over and configure manually.


Aye that’s fair.

I don’t know the state of graphical email clients, but the ones I use use Maildirs locally. How the mail gets there (pop, imap, sendmail mda) doesn’t matter to them. You might have to move the maildir out of the way between switching protocols, but just copying the mail files back afterword would be trivial. Obviously, that depends on your mailclient using a sane and standard storage system.

This doesn’t really matter if you’re just using imap to copy the messages to your local machine (and then deleting them off the server). I believe in thunderbird it’s under the “local machine” tree-view on the left.

Glad to hear it! I totally agree that software shouldn’t assume it knows more than the user. Often the configs are saved in a standard format (ini, xml or similar). I’ve found it’s often easier to edit those files than to go through the UI that does (often poor) validation of the config.

And that /might/ work. Difficult to say. My main experience with being completely unable to change the type of account, e.g. POP to IMAP, after the fact, is with Thunderbird. (Even if there’s no under-the-hood hack for this, I suppose you can drag and drop the email from the old POP account to the new IMAP account, and then redownload it in the IMAP account if necessary, and /then/ delete the old POP account.)

Yes. I was just imagining that if someone is “forced” to start using IMAP then they might start using some of its capability, rather than using it in the same manner as POP.

I doubt that Geary /can/ use IMAP in the same manner as POP. At least I haven’t found settings that suggest that, from a somewhat cursory check.

For those following along at home - config is in /home/purism/.config/geary/account_01/geary.ini

(or replace _01 with subsequent numbers if more than one account)

Believe me, I was tempted to set up a dummy server with a short hostname, default port numbers, and no authentication, just so that I could get through the damned account creation process, and then go back in and edit the .ini file. :wink:

I do remember that; had to help a client migrate from an old POP host to a new imap one. It was less than perfectly pleasant, but as you say, you can drag-and-drop the email from one account to an imap account and let the client and server hash out copying the messages. I ditched graphical email programs about 2 years ago as they all are terrible. Not that mutt/alpine/wanderlust are amazing, but if they’re going to suck, at least their small and fast while they fail to impress.

I would be somewhat surprised if it could… Most gnome applications aren’t exactly featurefull (or polished, but that’s another matter).

I hadn’t considered that it wouldn’t let you have any config file until you had a working config… That’s painful. Writing one by hand and even knowing where to put it would likely require checking online, as I doubt it’s documented.

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Meant to mention … is there any “caps lock” on the on-screen keyboard yet? That would sure come in handy from time to time.

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I’d use IMAP if you are using multiple devices for email.

POP if you have only one client, and you’re comfortable with making your own backups.

I use a mixture of both, IMAP for for my Inbox and folders I need to access from anywhere, and POP for home.

When I get home I manually “file” emails I don’t want to keep in my in-box to local folders using POP. I got the Thunderbird extension where “shift+M” lets you file an email.

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See the discussion starting here:

BTW: there’s a merge request for latching view switchers, but I kinda don’t know how it really should work in more complicated cases so it’s in limbo: https://source.puri.sm/Librem5/squeekboard/-/merge_requests/416

Thanks, Dorota! You rock!

Thanks but that seemed inconclusive. Am I correct in thinking that this hasn’t come through as an update yet?

It’s not critical but for typing things like POP and IMAP, the current approach is a bit painful.


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I tend to use POP3 as well,
The main reason has been really bad experiences with imap at work:

  • Constant syncing issues (I send an email and it fails to save the message to my sent folder, over and over until I tell it to stop trying)
  • Often waiting forever for it to finally load a message from the server. Especially a message that is not new.
  • Offline, imap often doesn’t have everything local so you can’t see as much without a connection to the server.

POP3 in comparison: All mail is local, so no syncing issues. It’s always fast as it only downloads each message once, and then you’re done talking to the sever.

Though this may all just be an exchange thing, not an imap thing; however, I didn’t have issues until they turned off pop3 on the mail server forcing me to use IMAP or webmail.

The general arguments I’ve heard against POP3 is it doesn’t work well for multiple mail clients. There is some truth to that in that it’s harder to sync things like mail rules. However, as mentioned before you don’t need to delete the messages on the server, and you can also set your mail client to delete messages older than x to ensure a time window for everything to get the messages(I personally use a month).

Thus in my experience IMAP is very unreliable and buggy, and POP3 just works.


And you have to “trust” your IMAP provider to always be online, NOT to delete your account, or lose it.

Once you’ve downloaded your POP3 message, its yours.


I would make the observation: In the Linux world, it shouldn’t be about comparison. It is about choice.

I would choose to use POP in certain situations (and IMAP in others). For the time being however the reality is that POP is not an available choice.

Nothing is stopping me adding POP client support to Geary - except of course my total lack of knowledge. :slight_smile:

I haven’t found IMAP to be particularly unreliable. I am currently using multiple different IMAP servers.

I have seen anomalies when two clients share access to a mailbox and mail messages disappear out from underneath a client. I see that on the Librem 5 and I saw it before I ever got my Librem 5. (I am seeing it now because my old phone and the Librem 5 are sharing access to the same mailbox, while I phase the latter in. However I am trying to leave my old phone alone so that it does not cause those kinds of error message.)

This. If you don’t need online and/or shared access then POP is simple and reliable.

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As discussed above, this relies on your POP3 client downloading the messages locally and then deleting them off the server. This is how most (all?) POP3 clients are configured out of the box, as it’s the behaviour people expect from POP3 (so much so that some of us didn’t realise it’s optional).

This is imap with remote folders (which, like POP3, is how most clients are configured out of the box). If you configure it to use local folders (which is not the same as a local/offline cache), you don’t have that issue.

And there I think is the difference. If you just want dead-simple local-folder email, POP3 clients will do it with zero (or nearly zero) configuration. If you’re running an email client that will require some setup regardless, and want local-folder mail, then the only difference is putting pop: vs imap: in the config file.

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I’m a mix PO3/IMAP (95/5)% user myself. The only thing is finding that dreaded random-named subdirectory in Thunderbird where your email is.

Usually if you want to copy it elsewhere ad hoc.

This is getting a bit off-topic but …

The TB profile directory naming leaves a lot to be desired.

However it is not necessary to move the profile in order to move the email. Each account can have a different unrelated email directory. Provided that you change the email directory immediately after creating the account, you should be good to go. I use this extensively. This is really only relevant to POP accounts.

Further pro tip :slight_smile: … I recommend not trying to put that email directory on a network mounted location. In theory it is a good idea. In practice a couple of things go wrong.