How to Make Gmail IMAP Faster With Less Email Traffic

Limit emails and hide folders to speed up your Gmail

What to Know

  • Go to Forwarding and POP/IMAP, select Limit IMAP folders to contain no more than this many messages, and select a number.
  • To hide labels, go to Settings > See all settings > Labels and clear Show in IMAP for labels or folders you want to hide.

This article explains how to make Gmail IMAP faster by limiting email or hiding folders and labels.

Make Gmail IMAP Faster by Limiting Email

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.

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. Select the Settings gear in the upper-right corner of Gmail.

    The Settings gear in Gmail
  2. Select See all settings from the menu that comes up.

    The "See All Settings" button in Gmail
  3. Go to the Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab.

    A screenshot of Gmail settings with the Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab highlighted
  4. Make sure Limit IMAP folders to contain no more than this many messages is selected under Folder Size Limits.

    A screenshot of Gmail settings with the Limit IMAP Folders command highlighted
  5. Select 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. Select Save Changes.

    A screenshot of Gmail settings with the Save Changes button highlighted

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. Select the Settings gear in the upper-right corner of Gmail.

    The Settings gear in Gmail
  2. Select See all settings from the menu that appears.

    The "See All Settings" button in Gmail
  3. Select the Labels tab at the top of the window.

    A screenshot of Gmail settings with the Labels heading highlighted
  4. Make sure that Show in IMAP is not checked for labels or folders you want to hide from your Gmail.

    A screenshot of the Labels section of Gmail settings with the Show in IMAP option highlighted

For some labels, another option is to select Show if Unread.

Was this page helpful?