12 Replies Latest reply: Aug 16, 2012 12:16 PM by Glenn Leblanc
Bob Sabiston Level 3 Level 3 (525 points)



  I am moving to a new hosting service and want to move my IMAP mail accounts. I've read online about how to do this.  You basically create two email accounts with the same email address.  One of them connects to the old server, and one to the new server.  Then you copy the messages from the old to the new.


I've done this and have copied the messages in my Inbox and Drafts folders. However, there doesn't seem to be a 'send' folder for the new account.  Under 'Sent' with the little paper airplane icon, there are entries for all of my email addresses except this new one (which is the same address as the old one).  I tried changing that address to something else, but it still doesn't show up under 'Sent'.  Anyone know why?


IMAP is pretty confusing to me overall -- where the accounts are listed individually at the bottom, some of the accounts have both 'Sent Mail' and 'Sent' and sometimes 'Sent Messages', with different messages in each folder.  Why is that?  Which is correct?


Any answers to these questions are greatly appreciated. 




  • 1. Re: transferring IMAP mail to new server
    Glenn Leblanc Level 5 Level 5 (5,940 points)

    When you create a new imap account in mail, the iMac folders appear under the account listed in the bottom of the sidebar. The only iMac folder for the account that will be in Mail's main mailboxes will be the inbox. The imap folders need to be mapped to the main mailboxes in order for them to be under the main. Otherwise, if you send a message, it will create a local mailbox for the account.


    To map the imap mailbox to the main, select and highlight the sent mailbox (or whatever it is called for that account) and go to Mailboxes in the menu. Choose Use This Mailbox For in the submenu and select Sent. The mailbox will move from the imap folder to Mail's sent mailbox. Any local mailbox for that account will be pushed out to On My Mac section. Repeat this for any other imap mailbox you want to map to the main mailboxes and for other imap accounts.


    For your messages, create new local mailboxes and copy them to it. You can move the to the new account from there. They will be on your Mac and not associated with the old account that way.

  • 2. Re: transferring IMAP mail to new server
    Bob Sabiston Level 3 Level 3 (525 points)

    Thanks, that helps but I think you have some typos maybe?  Do you mean iMac folder or IMAP?  And in that last paragraph I am not sure what you mean by "You can move the to the new account from there"?



  • 3. Re: transferring IMAP mail to new server
    Glenn Leblanc Level 5 Level 5 (5,940 points)

    I meant the imap folder. Each imap account will have a folder in the sidebar. If the folder is not expanded, you the cursor over an account folder and choose Show. All the mailboxes under it will be revealed.


    Moving messages to local mailboxes will remove them from the actual account and be stored locally. If you delete the account, it will not affect messages in local mailboxes. If you want them on the server of the new account, you can move them after the new account is created. Once you are finished with a message and you want to save it, I prefer to store them locally rather than on a server, but that would depend on how much storage space you have. If you want both, you will have another back of your messages and you can copy them instead of actually moving them.

  • 4. Re: transferring IMAP mail to new server
    Glenn Leblanc Level 5 Level 5 (5,940 points)

    Yes typos trying to type on this iPad.


    "you he cursor" should be move the cursor.


    To copy or move messages, select one or more messages, then right click and choose move or copy messages.

  • 5. Re: transferring IMAP mail to new server
    Bob Sabiston Level 3 Level 3 (525 points)

    OK I think I have it pretty much, thanks!


    I get local folders, but what do the groups 'inbox', 'drafts' and 'sent' really mean, if you can attach any other mailbox to them?  For example, say I do not want my sent messages stored on the server, but the messages are from an IMAP account.  I know I can set that in the Preferences.  But if I choose not to save them on the server, then will I still have a folder for that account under the paper airplane 'Sent' section, and will those files just always be stored locally even though it isn't in the 'On My Mac' section?



  • 6. Re: transferring IMAP mail to new server
    Glenn Leblanc Level 5 Level 5 (5,940 points)

    Not sure what you mean by group inboxes. If you are talking about clicking the triangle on the side of inbox and expanding the accounts under it, each account will be listed under the inbox. If you just select the main inbox, it will show messages from all accounts. If you select an individual account, you will see only messages from that account.


    For settings, open Mail's preferences, select Accounts, and then Mailbox Behaviors tab. You can make server settings there for storing messages on the server. If you don't enable store sent messages on the server, you will still have sent messages stored locally. The imap sent mailbox will remain under the imap folder for that account. Depending on the provider's settings at their site, messages can still get copied to the imap sent mailbox when it goes through their server. You should be able to change that setting at their website. Also check the settings for storing sent mail in Mail's settings. I believe you have an option their to save a sent message. I'm not at a computer where I can go through the preferences to check it and see where it's located.


    Mailbox behaviors can be set for drafts, junk, and trash as well. You should also a familiarize yourself with all Mail's preferences.

  • 7. Re: transferring IMAP mail to new server
    Bob Sabiston Level 3 Level 3 (525 points)

    Man, I am still not getting it.  I set my account to NOT store its sent messages on the server.  It's an IMAP account, though.   


    There's a 'Sent' folder underneath the section for that account at the bottom of the sidebar.  What is that?  Is that where I find my locally stored sent messages?


    I am confused because I tried copying my old sent messages to this folder, and then I looked at my server webmail and it had copied them them all online!  Even though I have the Mail account set NOT to store sent messages on the server.  Can you explain what I am not getting?




  • 8. Re: transferring IMAP mail to new server
    Glenn Leblanc Level 5 Level 5 (5,940 points)

    The imap folder at the bottom sidebar is the same folders shown at the webmail site for that account. It is not showing you what is on your computer, but rather what is on the server. A few providers such as gmail has settings on what you want shown in imap. You can actually hide all imap mailboxes except the inbox in gmail.


    If you don't have a local sent folder for an account, one will be created when you send a message for the first time. Same for the others like trash. When you are not storing trash on the server, a local trash folder will be created when you first delete a message in that account. These will be available on the computer they are created on. Also, these local mailboxes created under the main mailboxes are still associated with the account created in.


    So yes, if you copy to the imap folder, it will put them online.


    Just to clarify, create local mailboxes outside of the accounts when you do the transfer. Name them whatever you wish. They will appear under the OnMyMac section and not be associated with a particular account. Copy your messages to these mailboxes and they won't get deleted when you delete an account.


    Hope that clears it up a bit.

  • 9. Re: transferring IMAP mail to new server
    Bob Sabiston Level 3 Level 3 (525 points)

    OK, that makes it even clearer.


    I think Apple's software is a little buggy, and that isn't helping matters.  For instance, it is a very common thing when moving between hosting servers to need or want to create two accounts with the same email address, one on the old and one on the new.  Then you just move the mails between the two accounts before cutting the old one loose.


    But Apple's program doesn't show a 'Sent' folder until you actually send a message from an account.  And, unfortunately for me, mine will only show me one of the two addresses, when there are duplicates.


    I was able to get it to work by first disabling the old account and then sending a message from the new account, which created the Sent mail folder I was looking for.  See the confusion?


    I don't know if everyone's copy of Mail has this behavior, but to make it even worse when I first went to disable the account, I unchecked the box and saved the preferences, but the account did not disappear.  I had to quit Mail and restart before it would disable correctly.

  • 10. Re: transferring IMAP mail to new server
    Glenn Leblanc Level 5 Level 5 (5,940 points)

    Maybe you do have a bit of odd behavior, but I was about to suggest after copying the messages to local mailboxes outside of the accounts, so should disable the old account before deleting it. That way you could be sure your messages are safe in the local mailboxes. That's why I suggested moving the messages from the old account and move them to the new account after.


    You are correct. You can't create two separate accounts with the same email address. I believe that would be the case with any mail application.

  • 11. Re: transferring IMAP mail to new server
    Bob Sabiston Level 3 Level 3 (525 points)

    On the contrary, you can and they work (so far as I can tell), it's just that one of them won't show up in the 'from' dropdown menu.


    In fact the reason I tried it is I found at least one online tutorial about how to switch hosting addresses, and although they used Thunderbird I think as an example, they said that most email programs would support the same process. 


    It is actually a very helpful thing to have, because of that common situation, having to move an email address between hosting servers.



  • 12. Re: transferring IMAP mail to new server
    Glenn Leblanc Level 5 Level 5 (5,940 points)

    Maybe you can with others, but I don't think you can in Mail. I don't have access to my computer to test it. If you can, I just think it's still safer just to copy the messages from the old account to local mailboxes, disable the old account, create the new account, and when everything is Working OK to just copy them from local mailboxes to the new account.


    Besides all that, once I'm done with a message, I move it from the account server to local mailboxes on one computer for storage. They are backed up with everything on my backup drives and it keeps the server cleaner. If you need older messages on multiple devices, then you would be better just to leave them on the server archived.


    Do what works best for you.

    Good Luck