How to Make Gmail IMAP Faster With Less Email Traffic

Limit emails and hide folders to speed up your Gmail

Speed trails

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Gmail in a desktop email program is fantastic. You can see all the labels and mail and can search the archives, too—once the email client has downloaded all the 10GB of mail and then some in the All Mail folder, not to forget the duplicates in all the label folders.

Wish you could get the newest mail, move and label messages, see all folders and still not have to deal with hundreds of thousands of emails on the desktop when the Gmail archive is but a browser tab away?

Gmail offers a way to limit the number of messages it shows to your email program in each folder. This can make synchronizing faster and your desktop email leaner while all the latest mail is still available.

Make Gmail IMAP Faster by Limiting Email

To limit the number of messages visible per folder in Gmail so your email program has less to download, cache, and keep in sync:

  1. Click the Settings gear icon near your Gmail screen's top right corner.
  2. Select Settings from the menu that comes up.
  3. Go to the Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab.
  4. Make sure Limit IMAP folders to contain no more than this many messages is selected under Folder Size Limits.
  5. Pick a desired number of messages to show in email programs; Gmail will select the most recent 1000, 2000, 5000, or 10,000 messages, depending on your choice.
  6. Click Save Changes.

Make Gmail Faster by Hiding Folders and Labels

You can also designate the labels and folders your email program sees. To prevent IMAP access to a Gmail folder or label:

  1. Click the Settings gear icon near your Gmail screen's top right corner.
  2. Select Settings from the menu that appears
  3. Click on the Labels tab.
  4. Make sure that Show in IMAP is not checked for labels or folders you want to hide from your Gmail.