What Do You Get With IMAP Gmail?

Using IMAP with Gmail gives you several benefits over POP

When you connect your Gmail account to the Gmail IMAP email servers, you provide yourself with several benefits. You're able to do a whole lot more with your account than you can when using the Gmail POP servers.

In a nutshell, when IMAP is used with Gmail, everything you do causes a change on the email server. Those changes are then reflected on all your other devices if they're also using Gmail with IMAP.

For example, if you mark a message as unread on your tablet, you can open Gmail on your phone or computer to see the same message marked as unread. The same goes for deleting emails, moving them, sending messages, applying labels, marking messages as spam, etc. 

Delete Messages

If you delete an email in Gmail, the email is deleted on the mail server. This means you won't be able to open that email on any of your other devices because every device looks to the server for information on emails. If it's deleted, it's inaccessible everywhere.

This differs from POP in that, depending on the settings you're using, messages you remove from your device are only deleted there, not on the server, too.

  • To delete an open message in Gmail, use the Delete button (the trash can) at the top of the email.
  • You can also move the message to the trash folder to delete it. Just select the folder icon at the top of the message and choose [Gmail]/Trash. You can do this with the email open or from the list of messages (like in your Inbox folder).
  • Yet another way to delete an email in Gmail is to set up automatic filters for incoming emails and pick the option to remove the message.

Move and Archive Messages

IMAP also lets you manipulate which folder an email should be in. When you move an email to a different folder, it's moved on all your IMAP–enabled devices.

  • Moving Gmail emails by drag and drop is one option. Just select the messages that should be moved and then drag them into the folder on the left side of Gmail.
  • You can also use the Move to folder button at the top of Gmail to pick a different folder for the email to be stored in.
  • If you archive a Gmail message, it will go into the All Mail folder.

Mark Messages as Spam

Reporting an email as a junk message, or spam will move the message to the Spam folder in Gmail. Just like with the other IMAP features above, marking a message as spam will be reflected on all the devices that access your Gmail account, be it on the Gmail website, the mobile app, a desktop client, etc.

  • Move the email to the Spam folder with the Move to button to mark an email as spam.
  • Another way to mark messages as spam in Gmail is to use the Report spam button at the top of Gmail.

Add Labels

Labeling Gmail messages makes it easier to keep track of your emails and search for specific messages. You can label a message from any of your IMAP–connected email programs and the same label will be used for that message on all the programs and apps that use your Gmail account.

  • Copy or move the message to the folder named the label you want the message to have.
  • Another way to label a message is to use the Labels button at the top of Gmail.

Star Messages

Starring Gmail messages is another way to quickly find emails (e.g. search for has:yellow-star). Plus, all the emails you star go into the special Starred folder.

  • Use the star button to the left of the email on the desktop version of Gmail to star that message.
  • You can also move the email to the Starred folder.

Mark Emails as Important

You can mark a Gmail email has important for use with Priority Inbox, which separates emails into categories for easier viewing. 

  • Use the More button and then Mark as important to use this feature.
  • Another method for marking emails as important in Gmail is to click the tag button to the left of the email. You see this when you're viewing messages in the list format, like in the Inbox folder, on the desktop version of Gmail.