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How to change an account from POP to IMAP in Apple Mail

Last updated: 28/7/2017

POP3 (Post Office Protocol 3) and IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) are the two main protocols used by applications to send and receive email. You can find out the differences between the two and which is best for your needs in the following article: What are the differences between POP3 and IMAP?

Should you decide you wish to change your email account from using a POP3 connection to an IMAP connection in Apple Mail, you can do so using the following steps.

1. Back up your mailboxes

Switching from a POP3 connection to IMAP can result in your existing email being deleted, so you should create a backup of your mailboxes to avoid losing anything important.

  1. Open Apple Mail and select one or more mailboxes on the left hand side of the client. From the top menu, select Mailbox > Export Mailbox
  2. Choose a location for your backup or create a new folder, then click Choose. Mail exports your mailboxes as .mbox files.

2. Delete your POP account from your computer

With the backup completed, you can now delete the POP account in Apple Mail. You should also delete the account on other devices you use for email.

  1. From the top menu, select Mail > Accounts. Select your account from the list that is presented and use the minus (-) button to delete it

3. Set up your IMAP account on your computer

  1. The final step is to create a new email account on your computer using your IMAP server details. In the menu bar at the top of the screen, select Mail > Add account
  2. A panel will open, asking you to choose a Mail account provider. Click the radio button next to Other Mail Account… then select Continue
  3. In the next panel, Add a Mail account, enter your Name, Email Address and email account Password. Then, click Sign In. Apple Mail will attempt to automatically retrieve your email server details.
    If your server details are not automatically retrieved, you should enter them manually in the next panel. Enter them as follows:
    • Email Address: Your full email address
    • User Name: Your full email address
    • Password: Your email account password
    • Account Type: Use the dropdown menu to select IMAP
    • Incoming Mail Server: enter
    • Outgoing Mail Server: enter
  4. Once the details have been entered, click Sign In.

Advanced Settings

If you are asked to confirm the port configuration, use the following details:

Incoming Port:993
Outgoing Port:465

You can view your port settings in Apple Mail by selecting Mail > Preferences from the Menu bar. Select your account from the sidebar of the panel that opens, then click the Server Settings tab. If you wish to change the preconfigured port settings, uncheck the Automatically manage connection settings option for both the Incoming Mail Server (IMAP) and Outgoing Mail Server (SMTP) sections. You can now edit the port configuration.

4. Restore your mailbox

If you wish to restore the mailboxes and email you backed up earlier...

  1. Choose File > Import Mailboxes from the menu bar
  2. Select the email app you want to import messages from. In this example, we’ll select Apple Mail, then Continue
  3. Navigate to your backup file and click Choose
  4. The messages are imported into in a new mailbox called Import in the Mail sidebar. You can reorganize your email by dragging folders and messages from the Import mailbox, then deleting the Import mailbox.