The Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) is a less common but more richly featured email protocol than POP3.
IMAP is a more modern protocol than POP3, first invented at Stanford University in 1986. The current version is IMAP4, providing similar services to the POP3 protocol, but with additional features.
The IMAP features can be useful in several situations, for example when you are traveling and don’t want to download your email onto a laptop because then you won’t have them on your home computer when you get back. It can also be useful for use on low-bandwidth devices like personal digital assistants, enabling you to select a few email from a list of subject headers before downloading just the ones you want.
Resources. The following Internet RFC’s provide information about IMAP:
- RFC 1064; INTERACTIVE MAIL ACCESS PROTOCOL – VERSION 2; M. Crispin; July 1988.
- RFC 1733; DISTRIBUTED ELECTRONIC MAIL MODELS IN IMAP4; M. Crispin; December 1994.
- RFC 2180; IMAP4 Multi-Accessed Mailbox Practice; M. Gahrns; July 1997.
- RFC 2683; IMAP4 Implementation Recommendations; B. Leiba; September 1999.
- RFC 3501; INTERNET MESSAGE ACCESS PROTOCOL – VERSION 4rev1; M. Crispin; March 2003.
The following references provide IMAP related information: