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Disclaimer: The entries you find in these pages are based on my individual opinions and thoughts. Some of the entries may be just plain wrong, and others harmful. Should you choose to act on, or try, anything you find on this site, you assume any and all risks associated with your actions. So there.


Using IMAP in iPhone Mail App

July 30, 2007

Tomorrow will be three weeks of living with an iPhone. It is every bit as delicious today as it was when I first fired it up. I am using it a ton for browsing the internets. I do most of my mail on it. And I have found a new must-have app, Google Maps; how did I live without this before? Of course, all this instant, at-hand, digital wonder means I'm online more. Not sure if that's a good thing.

Today I want to talk about Mail. I mentioned using IMAP previously, and this is really the deal-maker if you want to use the same account on your iPhone and computer. Let me go over my setup.

If you setup your mail account(s) via the sync feature, you're in trouble if you play with your settings. You will soon discover that after a sync the settings will revert. This should be no surprise if you give it thought, but it caught me out. This can wreak havoc on your Sent, Drafts and Trash folders. Don't do this, instead setup the mail account manually on the phone. Trust me on this-- there is no real benefit to syncing the account that I can see. Let me tell you my setup so you can get the picture.

I want my computer to be my primary location for archived and filed email. I want my iPhone to have access to my primary email, and email that is in my GTD system, but no more. With that in mind, this is how I set up my IMAP in Apple Mail on my MacBook Pro.

Drafts: Under "Mailbox Behaviors" I checked "Store draft messages on the server" so I can start a message either on my iPhone or computer, and finish it on the other. Sent: I unchecked "Store sent messages on the server" because I also set "Delete sent messages when: Never." I keep over 6 months of sent mail at all times, not including what I've filed away. This would put me WAY over quota on the server, so I have Mail file it away on my hard drive. Junk: Next, I uncheck "Store junk messages on the server" and have junk nuked after 1 day (I review it daily). Trash: Lastly I check "Move deleted message to the Trash mailbox" but uncheck "Store deleted messages on the server." I like to keep 6 months of trash (history as far as I'm concerned), and it is surprising how often that is not enough. So that's my Mail setup on my Computer.

In setting up the IMAP on the iPhone, under advanced, I had to specify the IMAP Path Prefix as "INBOX" (YMMV, so check with your ISP). Then when I checked Mail, the iPhone showed all of the folders that had been created by Apple Mail. Good so far. But I still needed to give the iPhone a way to store Drafts, Sent mail, Trash and processed Junk. These folders (except Drafts) had not been created by the Mail App on my computer, because it wasn't using them. So, in Mail on my computer, I manually created three new IMAP folders, Sent, Trash and Junk by selecting the IMAP inbox, and just clicking the + to make a new folder. After having successfully verified my folders were found by the iPhone Mail app, I popped back into the iPhone Mail Settings, under Advanced, and pointed the Drafts, Sent and Trash to the corresponding folders on the server.

Now, the way I use these folders is important, because they are different folders than my computer is using. So, as I use the iPhone, it accumulates Sent mail and Trash in the IMAP folders. On my computer, I have to file the Sent mail away into my computers Sent folder. I do this at least daily. Also on my computer I open the IMAP Trash folder, select-all and press delete -- they go to the right place. As for Junk, since the iPhone has no junk mail filtering, and I still want my computer Mail app to learn the junk, I file junk mail into the Junk folder. Later on my computer I open the IMAP Junk folder and mark the mail as Junk (some will actually already be, and I just move those).

One very cool thing is that I can leave Mail open on my computer, and it will busily mark and move a lot of my Junk mail out of the way as it checks mail. Eventually I hope to have an AppleScript working with a Rule that will move the Sent, other Junk and Trash. Working on that.

iPhone Mail Issue Recovery

July 30, 2007

Ok, so in my last post I mentioned that syncing your Mail accounts to your iPhone could burn you if you tweak those settings. Specifically, if the locations of your Sent, Trash and Drafts change, you can end up with mail filed away on your iPhone, with no practical way of retrieving it. If you change your settings back to filing these folders on your IMAP server, you apparently lose the mail altogether-- the iPhone versions of those folders just disappear.

The fix is a simple one, although it takes a few steps. First, on the iPhone, change your settings back so that you are filing the mail on your iPhone. Now you can get to the "lost" folders. Since the IMAP versions of these folders will also be available to your iPhone mail, you can now move your mail into the correct location (one-at-a-time, ugh). Once you are done, change your settings back, make sure you UNCHECK syncing the settings for your mail account, and you're now safe.