Gmail now has IMAP support. IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) allow users to keep their email data simultaneously synchronized while using multiple devices like the Gmail web interface, thumderbird or Outlook client, iPhone, Blackberry, etc. I am happy for myself and other millions of Gmail users for this. IMAP feature increases Gmail’s stickiness with users.
Internet Message Access Protocol enables email programs to read messages stored on the server. Unlike POP, with IMAP it’s as if you’re browsing a network drive of files on a remote server with an open, live connection to that server; whenever you open a folder or view a message, it’s displayed from that server live. IMAP maintains a constant connection with your server and updates real-time.
Google earlier supported only POP3 (Post Office Protocol 3) which lacks one critical feature that the changes made on other devices aren’t seen in Gmail when you log back in. The difference with IMAP is that it is in constant, real-time communication with the server, which is a great benefit if you are switching back and forth between devices like web, Outlook or mobile. Think of POP as copying files from a server to your computer and working with them on your hard drive. Think of IMAP as connecting to a remote server and working with the files saved there.
Google also offers other services like collaborative video, attachment capacity of 20 MB, ability to check e-mail from other accounts. Currently the Gmail mailbox size is increasing beyond 4 GB.
To start using IMAP, you need to enalble it. Go to Gmail web interface, click the “Forwarding and POP/IMAP” tab in your Gmail “Settings” and turn it on. For details, visit Gmail IMAP access help.