InMotion Hosting Support Center

Navigation:

There might come a time when you've setup your mail client to check email on the server via POP3 or IMAP and you decide you want to switch to the other protocol. Unfortunately you can't simply flip a switch to do this, but you can re-create your email account in your mail client to use the protocol of your choice.

Difference between POP3 vs IMAP

When you need to check your email on the server, there are 2 different protocols POP3 or IMAP available to use. Depending on how you utilize your email, one way might be more preferable to the other for you.

POP3 vs IMAP

pop3-server
With POP3 (Post Office Protocol) this would be the same as simply going into the post office, removing everything in your post office box and taking it home with you. You retain the physical copies of all of your mail that has been sent to you, and the post office (server) doesn't have to deal with them further.
imap-server
With IMAP (Internet Mail Access Protocol) instead of simply taking everything out of your box and home with you every time. You instead grab a copy of each message, and the original stays in the post office box (server). This is convenient if you have multiple devices such as a desktop, laptop, smartphone, and tablet all trying to check mail from the same account.
 

Switch from IMAP to POP3

Switching an IMAP account to POP3 would allow you to alleviate the server from managing your emails, and instead they would be stored locally on your computer. You would just need to create a new POP3 account in your mail client, then drag any messages off the server from the IMAP account you wish to download.

If you're having IMAP resource usage problems switching an IMAP account to POP3 is a great solution!

  1. thunderbird imap account showing

    Here you can see in Thunderbird that I have a user@example.com account currently setup to use an IMAP Mail Server.

  2. thunderbird tools account settings

    In Thunderbird navigate to Tools > Account Settings

  3. thunderbird account actions add mail account

    Click on Account Actions and then Add Mail Account...

  4. thunderbird fill account settings click continue

    Fill in your email account settings, then click Continue

  5. thunderbird select pop3 click done

    Now select POP3 (keep mail on your computer) and click Done

  6. thunderbird label POP3 account click ok

    Now back on the Account Settings window, click on the newly created user@example.com account, and update the Account Name to append (POP3) on the end, so we know which account is which easily, then click OK

  7. thunderbird imap and pop3 account showing

    At this point you can now see that our original IMAP account has 5 messages in it, and these are stored on the server.

    webmail new messages moving from pop

    If you attempt to login to webmail at this point, you'll see these same messages stored there.

  8. select imap messages drag to pop

    You can select one of the messages from your IMAP account, then hit Ctrl-A to select all messages, then drag them into your POP3 account to move these messages off the server.

    webmail no messages on server

    Now if you login to webmail, you'll see all those messages have been removed from the server.

  9. thunderbird right-click imap account click settings

    Now you'll want to remove your IMAP account from Thunderbird to ensure that it doesn't keep trying to make a duplicate connection to the server, since your POP3 account is already going to connect and retrieve your email.

    Right-click on the IMAP account and click on Settings...

    thunderbird account actions remove imap account.png thunderbird remove account click ok

    On the Account Settings window, click on Account Actions and then Remove Account.

    You'll get a confirmation window pop-up asking if you're sure you want to remove the account, just click OK.

Switch from POP3 to IMAP

Switching a POP3 account to IMAP allows you to keep messages on the server, and to syncronize them to multiple IMAP clients. You just need to create a new IMAP account in your mail client, then drag any messages from your old POP3 account into the IMAP account if you'd like to retain them and remove the POP3 account.

While IMAP might be more convenient for how you check email, because all of your messages get left on the server instead of your local mail client it could potentially lead to IMAP resource usage problems.

  1. thunderbird pop3 account showing

    Here you can see in Thunderbird that I have a user@example.com account currently setup to use a POP Mail Server or POP3.

  2. thunderbird tools account settings

    In Thunderbird navigate to Tools > Account Settings

  3. thunderbird account actions add mail account

    Click on Account Actions and then Add Mail Account...

  4. thunderbird fill account settings click continue

    Fill in your email account settings, then click Continue

  5. thunderbird select imap click done

    Now select IMAP (remote folders) and click Done

  6. thunderbird label IMAP account click ok

    Now back on the Account Settings window, click on the newly created user@example.com account, and update the Account Name to append (IMAP) on the end, so we know which account is which easily, then click OK

  7. thunderbird pop3 and imap account showing

    At this point you can now see that our original POP3 account has 5 messages in it, and these are stored on the local computer itself.

    webmail no messages on server

    If you attempt to login to webmail at this point, you'll see there are no messages stored on the server for this account. This is because they are all stored locally in your mail client.

  8. select pop messages drag to imap

    You can select one of the messages from your POP3 account, then hit Ctrl-A to select all messages, then drag them into your IMAP account to move these messages to the server.

    webmail new messages moving from pop

    Now if you login to webmail, you'll see all those messages you just moved on the server-side. They can now be syncronized to any IMAP client such as your phone without the messages being removed from the server.

  9. thunderbird right click pop account click settings

    Next you'll want to remove your POP3 account from Thunderbird otherwise the messages in your IMAP account will keep being removed from the server and pulled back into the POP3 account.

    Right-click on the POP3 account and click on Settings...

    thunderbird account actions remove account thunderbird remove account click ok

    On the Account Settings window, click on Account Actions and then Remove Account.

    You'll get a confirmation window pop-up asking if you're sure you want to remove the account, just click OK.

You should now have the knowledge and know how to switch your mail client from using either POP3 or IMAP as your prefered email retrieving protocol.

Support Center Login

Social Media Login

   
Social Login Joomla

Related Questions

Here are a few questions related to this article that our customers have asked:
Ooops! It looks like there are no questions about this page.
Would you like to ask a question about this page? If so, click the button below!
Ask a Question
n/a Points
2014-08-14 9:45 am
Maybe you should explain how to configure other email clients, if possible.
Staff
29,164 Points
2014-08-14 9:59 am
Hello Leland,

This is more about switching from the POP3 to IMAP (or vice versa) protocol, so the concept is the same no matter what client. Individual clients, however, have their own interfaces.

Kindest Regards,
Scott M
n/a Points
2014-08-14 9:46 am

Would this description be applicable to the email client found in the Seamonkey Web Browser?

Staff
29,164 Points
2014-08-14 10:01 am
Hello Leland,

Actually yes! Seamonkey is made by Mozilla and the interface is very much like Thunderbird. This may serve you well, but I cannot guarantee there won't be minor interface differences.

Kindest Regards,
Scott M
n/a Points
2014-10-23 10:14 am

Hi, I'm working with the outlook.com email website, not an outlook software program. I can import my emails from the cpanel email account however I have two questions.

Outlook.com ask for my IMAP email server which I put in the Incoming server information but that gave me errors. How do I find the correct IMAP email server information?

Do you know if the correct IMAP setting will allow me to send for outlook.com email?

Thanks

Staff
17,726 Points
2014-10-23 1:01 pm
Hello Kimberly,

Thank you for contacting us with your email question. You can view your email settings, including IMAP, in your cPanel at any time.

However, if you are using a free Outlook.com account for your custom domain, Microsoft discontinued the service earlier this year.

Microsoft is recommending that you move to Office365 for your custom domain. Keep in mind this is a paid service.

If you have any further questions, feel free to post them below.
Thank you,
John-Paul
n/a Points
2014-11-12 6:08 pm

I am wanting to convert a POP3 account to IMAP in Outlook and keep exisitng emails.  While I understand the copy procedure mentioned above I just want to confirm that the emails within folders in my inbox will copy over to the new IMAP as well before starting this process.  Thanks for any help you may give me. 

 

Tammi

Staff
26,137 Points
2014-11-12 7:07 pm
Hello Tammi,

Thanks for the question. POP3 email accounts are centered around the INBOX and they typically are set to download the email to a client (like Outlook) unless you have set it so that a copy remains on the email server. If you don't have a copy of the emails already saved to the server, then to make sure that you have a copy of your emails, you should save all of your emails to a local location on your computer first. Then you can bring them back into your Outlook account when you have completed converting to IMAP. This can be done in Outlook. Note, the email server is not changing to either POP3 or IMAP. You're changing the protocol of the program you're using to access the emails.

I hope that helps to answer your question. If you require further assistance then please let us know.


Regards,
Arnel C.
n/a Points
2014-12-11 8:10 pm
It may be difficult to improve it.
This article SAVED MY SANITY this evening, by its stunning clarity and accuracy.
I am very grateful for the efforts of he/she who went to the trouble of setting it out for the rest of us
n/a Points
2014-12-14 3:00 pm
How do you keep the same email address when moving from pop to imap?
Staff
17,726 Points
2014-12-30 3:01 pm
Hello Lance,

Thank you for your question. When you change from POP to IMAP, you should use the same email address. You are only changing the port and server settings.

If you have any further questions, feel free to post them below.

Thank you,
John-Paul
n/a Points
2014-12-30 2:44 pm

First of all, thank you. This is an outstaning forum. I have a myriad of computers I am responsible for and am faced with a delema. My ISP switched today from a pop3 to an imap. I am using Thunderbird due to security reasons as a an elected official, (so I can store emails in folders privately off line) and need to change eerything over to an imap. I set up a new account on one computer and it downloaed everything on the server? My question is: It I leave non vital messages on the server for future reference will I continue to download everything that is on there every time I check my email? Is ther a way to establish a way to just download new mail only but keep the others on the server for reference? Thanks in advance. Bill

Staff
11,186 Points
2014-12-30 3:12 pm
Unfortunately, POP is the only solution for reliably storing messages for offline use. Every time you connect using IMAP, the folders are synced and the messages are gathered from the server.
n/a Points
2015-01-12 10:34 am

Hi,

 

I have recently had my computer serviced which has removed thunderbird. When I set up the exisiting account again I only had emails dting back a month and not two years. Is there a way to get these old emails back?

 

Thanks

Staff
29,164 Points
2015-01-12 10:53 am
Hello Steph,

When using email clients such as Thunderbird there are two different setups. The one you had your Thunderbird set up with will determine whether you can get your emails back or not.

One is called IMAP which syncs with the server. This means that the Thunderbird is like a window to the server and the emails actually live up on the server. Once you reconnect to your account to the server, the emails should resync from the server and it should appear the same as before.

The other setup is called POP3. This format pulls the emails off of the server down to the computer. In this case, if the emails are deleted they are not recoverable.

Kindest Regards,
Scott M
n/a Points
2015-01-12 5:33 pm

is it possible to have both IMAP and POP account for the same email

Staff
29,164 Points
2015-01-12 8:16 pm
Hello M Yoon,

While it is possible it would have to be on different devices. Also, if you have multiple devices connecting to an email account, using POP3 on any of them would not be advisable. This is because the POP3 device would pull all the emails off of the server onto itself. Then the other IMAP devices would not be able to see them since IMAP syncs with what is on the server.

Kindest Regards,
Scott M
n/a Points
2015-02-05 5:26 pm

I am keen to switch from a POP3 acc to IMAP and these instructions are briliant.  What will happen to any emails I am storing in archive folders currently as POP3 emails?  Do I bring them over as you say to bring over any emails sitting in the IN-Box?  I don't want to lose them when I delete the POP3 account.  Thanks,  Jos.

Staff
11,186 Points
2015-02-06 2:50 pm
Any of those folders would also need to be moved the same as referenced for your inbox.
n/a Points
2015-04-10 10:25 am

I am using POP3 accounts on my domain. I have also enabled Email Archive option of the cPanel and I am getting all the incoming and outgoing messages stored in a imap account. I have configured the imap account in my outlook and it has syncyed all emails. Now, I want to take a back of these emails and stored them as POP3 since the IMAP account is configured to delete all emails older then 7 days to save disk space.

 

How can I convert all imap emails into pop3 emails in my outlook wihout usign the export feature as it creates a backup file. I want to use the option as a daily feature and it should keep storing all emails in the folder.

 

Please advise.

 

Thanks,

Amit

Staff
29,164 Points
2015-04-13 8:42 am
Hello Amit,

This article was written using Thunderbird as we do not use Outlook in house. Other than helping with settings to connect to email, we do not give support for Outlook. It may be that the backup file is necessary for Outlook to perform the switch. You may need to contact Microsoft support for the exact answer on that, however.

Kindest Regards,
Scott M
n/a Points
2015-04-15 12:02 am

Another question,

if i create a new account (imap) on my email client so i can drag and drop all the folders and email that are on my Pop account, does it have to be a different email address? And how can I then keep and see it all in my usual email address? Or can it be the same email address? Thank you so much for taking the time to answer.

Staff
26,137 Points
2015-04-16 2:48 am
Hello Valentina,

If you want to have access to your emails OFFLINE, regardless of having connection to the internet, then you will need to consider using an email client like Outlook/Thunderbird. Bear in mind that although you could access those emails, if you're OFFLINE, then you couldn't send anything out. Remember that when you use the POP3 protocol for email, then you are limited to email only within the INBOX. Additionally, while you can leave a copy of all emails on the server, your email needs to be downloaded first. IMAP allows you to create folder structures so that you can organize your email.

When you're talking about using Gmail, if you're using the free Gmail client from your browser, that is a program that requires that you work ONLINE - connected to the internet.

The other 2 email clients you mentioned - Outlook and Thunderbird - have a variety of options . You can use them to also get email from Gmail or other accounts. You can also use their built-in functionality to create filters that automatically move messages to certain locations. The main desirability of the clients will be their ability to work offline. So in terms of changes for your email, take another look at either Outlook and Thunderbird. You will find they work in either POP or IMAP - though in your case, you'll probably want to work in IMAP in order to organize by individual folders.

I hope this helps to answer your question, please let us know if you require any further assistance.


Regards,
Arnel C.
n/a Points
2015-05-15 7:47 am

Hi, 

I have one machine using POP3 with many years of emails, so it's like a database now, and we want to keep it that way. But it would be great if on my laptop I could access current email in a nicer interface like yours, instead of on webmail like we do now. 

So, my proposed solution is to keep using POP3 on the main machine, and leave messages on the server for 20 days. And, use eM Client in IMAP mode on the laptop to access the last 20 days worth of received emails.

I understand that email sent from the IMAP machine will not show up on the POP3 machine (unless I copy myself), and visa versa. But, some people have said that using the two protocols on the same email account may cause problems (with the index??). Can you let me know if that's true?

We really don't want to mess up the message storage base on the POP3 machine, but it would be very handy to have IMAP access to monitor what is current and also send out some email. We already do this using webmail, so not sure why techies have said IMAP access would mess things up. Is webmail basically IMAP with no local storage? Or is webmail something different all together? I ask, because we want to replace webmail acces with eM Client access since your interface is so much nicer, and still have the POP3 account keeping incoming mail. 

Thanks very much!!

Staff
26,137 Points
2015-05-18 9:35 am
Hello Leslie,

I'm not really sure what interface you're referring to (you're calling it "eM"). You can always use another email client like Thunderbird or Outlook that allows you to store email OFFLINE. You can still access these messages at that point - though they'll only be on that particular computer. The issue of using POP3 and IMAP shouldn't really be a problem as long as you leave a copy of the emails on the server. POP3 will generally download emails to the client, but if you leave a copy of the emails on the server, then it shouldn't been an issue for IMAP users on the same account. Our webmail clients all work in IMAP, so , it shouldn't be an issue to use either protocol.

You're welcome to try either protocol when you try using the email client you're referring to. Check out How to Find my Email Settings.

If you have any further questions or comments, please let us know.

Regards,
Arnel C.
n/a Points
2015-06-18 5:54 am

HI I am trying to set up my wifes email account (Tiscali) on Office 365.  I know that MS do not support POP server settings currently which is what Tiscali use for incoming email.  Can I change the tiscali email from POP to IMAP?  Outlook will support IMAP.  Please advise.  

Staff
17,726 Points
2015-06-18 11:03 am
Hello Andygb73,

Thank you for contacting us. Office 365 should support POP settings, here is a link to their guide on Outlook settings for POP and IMAP .

Otherwise yes, you should be able to switch to IMAP by following the guide above.

Thank you,
John-Paul
n/a Points
2015-07-23 5:45 pm

I have read that POP3 will not allow me to have subfolders, which I need or I'll never be able to keep things organized. I also liked that whether I was at my office PC or away using my laptop or iPhone, I could receive and respond to messages without anything getting lost on the way and all records were kept. My issue, is that now the server is saying my account is almost full. If I change to POP3, will my subfolders be transferred also or will they be lost? Or should I save my IMAP Inbox and subfolders to the Personal Inbox folder and it be saved on my computer and see if I can access older emails?

Staff
17,726 Points
2015-07-24 10:05 am
Hello Kate,

Thank you for contacting us. If you are reaching your mailbox quota, you can simply increase the limit in cPanel, or use our Automated IMAP Archiving.

Yes, you can save your IMAP folders/subflders to your client (such as Outlook, Thunderbird). But, they will only be available on the computer you are using to connect via POP3. This is because POP3 does not store emails on the server by default.

If you have any further questions, feel free to post them below.

Thank you,
John-Paul
n/a Points
2015-07-31 2:31 am

I have been though the procedure to switch from pop to imap. I then wanted to delete my pop account. When i went to select the account to delete, a message appeared that I already had an account in that name. It would not show me the account settings to decide which one should be deleted.

 

Staff
5,084 Points
2015-07-31 9:51 am
Hello James,

If you are are unsure on which account to delete you may need to uninstall the email client you are using and re-install it. This will remove any local settings in place such as accounts that have been setup before. Then you can add your IMAP account.

Best Regards,
TJ Edens
n/a Points
2015-08-01 5:57 am

Thank you.

I am still grappling with the problem.

If I do as you suggest, I will lose all my current stuff?

Is there a way of saving what is in all the folders I set up, stored addresses etc.?

Staff
29,164 Points
2015-08-03 12:38 pm
Hello James,

If everything is already showing on the IMAP, then deleting or removing the POP will not have any loss of data. This is because the IMAP information is on the server.

Kindest Regards,
Scott M
n/a Points
2015-08-04 9:29 am

I have two inboxes showing up, each with different emails in them. I stopped the pop account removing emails from the server, but that was only a couple of days ago. If I uninstall TB I will lose all the old emails unless there is some way of saving the data to bring back once I has re-installed. Can I do that? Thanks

Staff
5,084 Points
2015-08-05 12:04 am
Hello James,

I found direct instructions on how to backup your local email in Thunderbird which can be recovered. I hope this helps accomplish your goal.

Best Regards,
TJ Edens
n/a Points
2015-08-06 4:27 pm

Many thanks for this post.

It helped me safely restore my Opera Mail account settings which I accidentaly set up as POP instead of IMAP.

Post a Comment

Name:
Email Address:
Phone Number:
Comment:
Submit

Please note: Your name and comment will be displayed, but we will not show your email address.

36 Questions & Comments

Post a comment

Back to first comment | top

Need more Help?

Search

Ask the Community!

Get help with your questions from our community of like-minded hosting users and InMotion Hosting Staff.

Current Customers

Chat: Click to Chat Now E-mail: support@InMotionHosting.com
Call: 888-321-HOST (4678) Ticket: Submit a Support Ticket

Not a Customer?

Get web hosting from a company that is here to help. Sign up today!