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IMAP Account

"IMAP" stands for "Internet Message Access Protocol." IMAP works by keeping mail on the server. Learn more about the differences between an IMAP and a POP account here .

An IMAP account is a great option if you need to keep two computers synchronized.

Setting up an IMAP Account

This example is based on a MyFastMail account. They offer free and pay accounts. They support IMAP features, server side rules and excellent spam filtering.

Note: Most IMAP accounts have an In box, trash, sent items and draft folders set up. You need to subscribe to the folders first. In the folder list, when you hit update, expand the folders and then subscribe to them.

Select New Mail from Accounts window:

Select IMAP from Account type:

Complete Account Settings (note you can use your ISP SMTP settings. For example if Comcast were your ISP, use smtp.comcast.net instead)

For IMAP accounts, only messages contained in the Inbox folder are received by default. You can change the default Send & Receive All schedule to automatically check for mail in other folders. If you have an IMAP or news account, you can run schedules only for folders that you are subscribed to.

Under the Options tab....

Entourage: "Lost Mailbox Lock"

Error Message -2171

This is a known issue with Entourage where it, by default, attempts to send set of commands to the mail server simultaneously, instead of individually. Bulk commands can confuse the server and cause commands to be applied to incorrect messages, as well as cause the server to reject the commands. To solve this problem, uncheck Send commands to server simultaneously.

  1. Open Microsoft Entourage and select Accounts from the Tools menu
  2. Select the IMAP account you wish to edit and click Edit
  3. By default Send commands to server simultaneously is checked
  4. Uncheck this option

Frequently Asked Questions: IMAP

  1. Set up IMAP account problems
  2. Refresh IMAP
  3. Free IMAP providers
  4. Correct dates and times
  5. Options missing in information bar
  6. Lost mailbox lock error -2171
  7. Cannot delete messages
  8. Why doesn't live sync actually work?
  9. Read mail offline
  10. Date received confusion in message list
  11. Duplicate messages that can't be deleted
  12. Edit and IMAP message
  13. Delete attachments
  14. Switch hosting accounts and retain all my current IMAP emails

1) I'm setting up my first IMAP account, and I've now got the IMAP icon in the folder pane. However, what I can't seem to get is the folder structure (inbox, draft, delete). I tried 'Update List'. The progress window tells me that it's logged on and is "downloading entire Folder List" however, the entire list shows as zero!? Any suggestions?

You need to subscribe to the folders first. In the folder list, when you hit update, expand the folders and then subscribe to them.

Entourage failing to log on to IMAP server

Go to Tools > Schedules, and open your "Send & Receive All" schedule. Make sure that there is an action to "Receive Mail" from your IMAP server; if not, add it (you may want to delete the existing one and add a new one even if it's there). Then, click the "synchronization options" button, and make sure the "Inbox" is checked.

Some users choose to use the "Live Sync" option in Tools > Accounts, under the "Options" tab for IMAP accounts so that messages in the Inbox are retrieved automatically.


2) How do you get IMAP to refresh every time a send and receive is done?

Try option-command-L. It does an (undocumented) "special" IMAP refresh.


3) How do I find a free IMAP provider?

Check with IMAP Service Providers for a list of free providers.


4) After importing mail into Entourage through IMAP, the dates and times of retrieval are completely wrong. I can still access them through the message source, but I need to fix the column dates.

You can't adjust these in Entourage without the help of a script.
Download Allen Watson's scripts from Macscripter.net

Modify Date Received
Modify Date Sent


5) With POP accounts, the information bar includes information like "You replied to this message on...", or "You forwarded this message on...", and a link to the forward/reply. However, these options don't seem to be available on IMAP accounts. Why not?

It depends on the type of IMAP server. Cheapo IMAP servers like mac.com's are "non-UID Plus" and can't track the replied-to messages on the server. Classier IMAP servers are UID Plus and can do all of that. POP accounts just need to look in your local folders in your local database, and so have no problem.

If you control-click on your IMAP account icon in the Folder List, and select "Get Info", you'll see whether or not it includes "UID Plus".


6) When I check my IMAP mail, I get error messages like "Lost mailbox lock". Is this a known issue?

The problem here is that Entourage tries to do multiple things at the same time to a selected folder. This is a feature. This is so you can do things like read mail and download your messages at the same time. Some servers aren't so good at managing multiple connects and barf. The checkbox 'Send Commands to server simultaneously' should help deal with these challenged servers. This checkbox defaults to true. This checkbox is in the options tab of the account options dialog for your imap server. Turn it off and give it a try. This tells Entourage to be more single minded and should be gentler on the server.


7) I have not been able to delete some messages from my IMAP account. They do not delete nor are they able to be moved from my Inbox to any other folder.

Try control-clicking the folder and choosing "Repair Message List"


8) Why doesn't live sync actually work?

It only does so if the IMAP server supports LiveSync. Do a right-click on the server icon and choose Get Info. If the text there includes "IDLE" then it supports LiveSync, otherwise not. (.mac does not)


9) Read Mail Offline

The key is to set up the account to "Always download complete message bodies" so the full message is in your database.

Then, when you set Entourage to work offline, when you read messages, it will ask you if it should record your actions and play them back to the server when you're connected. Next time you actually connect, it will ask if it should play back the actions and all the reads, deletes, and moves will be done on the server.


10) Why does the message list for IMAP folders identify the date of the message as the date it was uploaded to the IMAP server? I migrated a load of mail to a new IMAP server and all the messages are listed as having the same date in the message list. When I view the source, all the dates are correct.

Its because, as far as the IMAP account in Entourage is concerned, the 'date received' is the date when it was uploaded.

The work-round is to list by 'date sent' rather than 'date received' - this will list correctly.


11) Duplicate messages that can't be deleted. It seems like Entourage doesn't see my IMAP messages and downloads them again. When I try to delete the duplicates they change from unread to read, but do not get moved to the deleted folder. Can anyone help? I am getting 4-6 copies of every e-mail.

Options to fix:

Try option-command-L. It does an (undocumented) "special" IMAP refresh.

Try control-clicking the folder and choosing "Repair Message List".


12) Edit messages on server

Entourage does not support editing Exchange messages. For IMAP messages, it appears you can edit a message, but you are editing only the copy in your local cache, not the "original" on the server. If you then go find this IMAP message on another computer, it won't be edited. (There is a dialog that comes up to tell you so when you attempt to edit an IMAP message.)


13) Delete Attachments for IMAP account

Entourage only removes attachments from local copies of messages. In other words, if you use an IMAP account, Entourage cannot easily remove an attachment from a message; instead, it will remove the attachment from the local copy of the message and leave the attachment intact in the copy of the message that's on the server.


14) Switch hosting accounts and retain all my current IMAP emails

Make sure that you have all messages fully downloaded in your old IMAP account. Then when you create the new account you can drag the messages to their respective new folders. Unfortunately you can't drag folders to IMAP accounts. It's annoying because it means that you have to recreate your folder structure by hand on the new account before you can move/copy the messages.

Whatever you do, don't delete your old account in Entourage until you are completely sure the messages have been moved/copied to the new account. When you delete an IMAP account, it purges all of the account's messages from the mail database. If your old provider cuts off access that's fine. You'll get connect/auth errors, but you will still have access to all of the downloaded mail. Just take the old account out of your Send & Receive All schedule.

I'd like the messages to retain their original "Sent" date.

The original "Sent" date is always retained (it's physically stamped in the source of the message). Entourage, by default for IMAP accounts at least, sorts messages by "Received" date. As long as you do all of your moving with Entourage you should be OK. If you do the moving with another mail client (Mail, Thunderbird, etc.) Entourage won't have any received info to transfer to the newly copied messages, so the Received date will be reset to the time of the move/copy. If/when that happens you can just show the Sent column and sort by that.

Info provided by Remo Del Bello on the Entourage Talk list