Some Gmail users are seeing IMAP support appear in the settings
area of their account. This morning Google
confirmed: IMAP just launched, and if you're not seeing it yet you
will soon, as they are "rolling it out to everyone in the next few days."
What does IMAP mean and what's the implication ? Unlike POP access,
IMAP is a two-way syncing mechanism between your email client and
Gmail. That is, if you mark a message as read in Thunderbird, for
example, it will appear as read in Gmail. (Here's more on why
IMAP is better than POP.) Gmail's IMAP support even
syncs message stars, labels (as folders), as well as
their Spam and Trash folders. Here's a list of IMAP client actions
and how they will be reflected inside Gmail. Check out some screenshots
of this in action from Rafe Needleman from CNET's News Blog.
Gmail's supported IMAP client list includes Thunderbird, Mail.app,
Eudora, Outlook Express/2003/2007 and Windows Mail,
as well as the iPhone.
See Gmail's Help Center's IMAP section for setup howto's and frequently
asked questions. If you point your browser to Gmail Help documentation
outlining the steps necessary to get your mail clients setup for IMAP,
you’ll soon realize the the directions are the bare minimum.
There is more detailed article by 5thirtyone.
Having been a loyal IMAP user for years before switching over to full time
web-only access to Gmail, this is a very exciting option.