Imap commands example

It is a method of accessing electronic mail or bulletin board messages that are kept on a possibly shared mail server. In other words, it permits a "client" email program to access remote message stores as if they were local. For example, email stored on an IMAP server can be manipulated from a desktop computer at home, a workstation at the office, and a notebook computer while traveling, without the need to transfer messages or files back and forth between these computers.

IMAP's ability to access messages both new and saved from more than one computer has become extremely important as reliance on electronic messaging and use of multiple computers increase, but this functionality cannot be taken for granted: the widely used Post Office Protocol POP works best when one has only a single computer, since it was designed to support "offline" message access, wherein messages are downloaded and then deleted from the mail server. This mode of access is not compatible with access from multiple computers since it tends to sprinkle messages across all of the computers used for mail access.

Thus, unless all of those machines share a common file system, the offline mode of access that POP was designed to support effectively ties the user to one computer for message storage and manipulation. Allow message access and management from more than one computer.

Allow access without reliance on less efficient file access protocols. Provide support for "online", "offline", and "disconnected" access modes Support for concurrent access to shared mailboxes Client software needs no knowledge about the server's file store format. The protocol includes operations for creating, deleting, and renaming mailboxes; checking for new messages; permanently removing messages; setting and clearing flags; server-based RFC and MIME parsing so clients don't need toand searching; and selective fetching of message attributes, texts, and portions thereof for efficiency.

However, it did not command the attention of mainstream email vendors until a decade later, and it is still not as well-known as earlier and less-capable alternatives such as POP, though that is rapidly changing. With webmail products becoming increasingly popular, the use of the IMAP protocol is increasing quite rapidly.

Once an IMAP session is established, all communication between the client and server takes place in the form of commands sent by the client and responses returned by the server.

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The first interesting thing about IMAP commands is that most are not abbreviated into codes of three or four letters? Commands are normally shown in upper case, as I do in this Guide, but are in fact case-insensitive.

IMAP also uses an interesting system of command tagging to explicitly match client commands with certain server responses. Each time a client sends a command, it prefixes it with a tag that is unique for the particular session.

The tags are usually short strings with a monotonically increasing number in them; the examples in the IMAP standards have the first command tagged? That said, as long as each command is uniquely labelled, it doesn't matter what tagging scheme is used. When the server needs to send a response that is specific to a command, it tags the reply with the appropriate command tag. Not all replies are tagged, however.

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The standard doesn't state explicitly why this tagging scheme is needed, but I believe it is probably related to IMAP's multiple command feature. IMAP clients are allowed to send a sequence of commands to the server to be processed, rather than only sending commands one at a time.

imap commands example

This can improve performance when certain commands would take a long time to complete. The only restriction is that the commands must be independent enough that the result of executing them all would be the same regardless of the order in which they were processed.

For example, sending a command to read a particular entity in combination with a command to store a value into the same entity is not allowed.

Assume your username is smith, with password blegga, and your mailserver is mserver.

Connect to IMAP server with telnet

First we connect to the imap server, which is on portas follows:. The list command will list all available folders. This list could be quite large, so be careful. On my mail server, all mail is stored under the Mail directory:.

I am pulling the first message from my inbox here and full refers to full headers. One thing to note is that the first message is the last one chonologically. If you see connections dropped like the following, then another program is checking IMAP mail at the same time. This will cause problems with both mail clients since IMAP doesn't handle this case nicely.When you connect to the server, you should see an "OK" reply; enter the command A login username password where username is the account name for the relevant account and password is the account's password.

That will verify you can log into the account. You should see another "OK" response and be returned to the shell prompt. In the example above, I entered an incrementing alphabetical character, i. You can enter a word of your choosing before each command. The server will include that word at the beginning of its response, e. The purpose of putting a unique word before each command is to allow the client to asociate each response with the corresponding command issued by the client.

A client program might issue several commands without waiting for a response, so when it gets the reponses it can associate each one with the corresponding command it issued. In the above example, I used another command, examine which can, as with the select command, be used to obtain information on a mailbox on the server for that account. I can use fetch body to see information regarding the last message received or I can use fetch body[] to view the contents of the last message received, which will show me the entire message.

You can see the flags on messages using the fetch command. From the output shown above, I can see that messages through have already been seen, but messages that arrived after message number have not yet been seen.

Connected to Connection closed by foreign host. Connected to localhost. D OK Fetch completed.IMAP commands include operations to create, delete and rename mailboxes; check for new messages; permanently remove messages; set and clear message flags; search messages; and retrieve selective message parts. Once the current mailbox is set, you can manage messages for it. Managing messages: List, download or delete messages; list message flags; modify message flags; copy to another mailbox; search and retrieve e-mail parts without any downloading, etc.

imap commands example

Once you are finished working with the current mailbox messages, you can close the session or open a new one by setting another current mailbox. In any case, the IMAP server will permanently update its messages.

Once you are finished, you should logout.

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Other operations: Preference settings, capability, check connection, and reset any inactivity auto-logout timer on the IMAP server. These commands have been separated to show the different methods of reading electronic mail.

When reading electronic mail from an IMAP server, messages or message information may be imported into 4D structures variables, fields, arrays or downloaded to the disk.

The need for dual message-retrieval methods is due mainly to memory constraints for actions that may download large amounts of information. For instance, a single message containing a 5-MB attachment could easily overflow the database's storage capacity. A picture or BLOB field is the only 4D structure capable of storing something of this size; however, converting a message or attachment to this format is not very efficient since accessing the picture or BLOB involves cumbersome memory requirements for the client.

A mailbox is accessed using its complete hierarchical name. You can use the separator to create child mailboxes and to search higher or lower levels of the naming hierarchy. All children of a top-level hierarchy node use the same separator character. Mailbox names are still case-sensitive; therefore, you cannot create two mailboxes with names that differ only in case. The INBOX mailbox is a particular case: it exists in every account and is used for storing incoming messages.

Some mailbox attributes, such as the total number of messages or new messages, may be checked even if the mailbox is not the current one.

When using IMAP commands, it is important to fully understand the most frequently used parameters; more particularly, mailbox mechanisms msgNum and uniqueID. Once a current mailbox is selected, messages in the mailbox are assigned numbers starting from 1 up to the total number of items in the mailbox. Numbers are assigned based on the order that the messages were received in the mailbox with 1 being the oldest.

When the user logs back onto the IMAP server, the current messages in the mailbox will once again be numbered from 1 to X. For instance, if there are 10 messages in the mailbox, and messages 1 to 5 are deleted, when the user reopens the mailbox, the former messages 6 to 10 will have been re-numbered 1 to 5. For instance, consider the example below: You log on to an IMAP server and obtain the following list of messages:. During this session, you delete messages number 3 and 4.

imap commands example

When you close the current working mailbox, the requested deletions are made. When you log back onto the server, your message list will be re-numbered as follows:. It will change in relation to other messages in the mailbox at the time the current working mailbox is selected. As each message is added to the mailbox, it is assigned a higher ID than the previously added message s. When using IMAP commands you will need to specify the msgNum as the reference for messages on the server.Jegliche Reproduktion und Wiederverwertung nur mit schriftlicher Genehmigung des Autors.

From time to time I am in the unfortunate situation of having to manually communicate with an IMAP server in other words: reading mail via telnet. As I tend to forget the commands for the most important tasks it might be a good idea to write them down. IMAP handles messages. Messages live in folderswhich can have subfolders. Folders are separated by separators. Multiple groups of folders can exist, those groups are called namespaces.

At least one namespace always exists. Within every folder each message has two identifiers both are positive integers. The first the sequence number is valid only as long as the current folder is selected or open, in other wordsand ranges from 1 to N, N being the number of messages in the folder.

The second the UID does not change from one selection to the next, and usually not between connects. Ideally, the UID for a message never changes once it has been assigned. Each request from a client starts with a tagwhich is a group of characters consisting of letters, numbers and the dot ". The server reply consists of at least one line, but may consist of several.

This signals the completion of the command. If the server reply is one lined, only the line starting with the client tag is sent. The client may reuse tags if it wishes.

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The protocol is not synchronous, the client can send several requests without waiting for the server to complete the preceding command. Requests and replies consist of a space separated list of keywords and strings. Strings can be written in two forms, quoted and literal. Quoted strings can consist of any 7-bit-characters, except CR and LFenclosed by ". Literal strings start with the number of characters in the string, enclosed by curly braces, and a CRLF.

The string characters then follow. In this example the login user name was user and the password was password.

The tag chosen by the client i.IMAP was designed with the goal of permitting complete management of an email box by multiple email clients, therefore clients generally leave messages on the server until the user explicitly deletes them.

An IMAP server typically listens on port number The Internet Message Access Protocol is an Application Layer Internet protocol that allows an e-mail client to access e-mail on a remote mail server. The current version is defined by RFC Incoming e-mail messages are sent to an e-mail server that stores messages in the recipient's e-mail box.

The user retrieves the messages with an e-mail client that uses one of a number of e-mail retrieval protocols. While some clients and servers preferentially use vendor-specific, proprietary protocols[3] almost all support POP and IMAP for retrieving e-mail - allowing many free choice between many e-mail clients such as Pegasus Mail or Mozilla Thunderbird to access these servers, and allows the clients to be used with other servers.

E-mail clients using IMAP generally leave messages on the server until the user explicitly deletes them. This and other characteristics of IMAP operation allow multiple clients to manage the same mailbox.

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Clients may store local copies of the messages, but these are considered to be a temporary cache. IMAP was designed by Mark Crispin in as a remote access mailbox protocol, in contrast to the widely used POP, a protocol for simply retrieving the contents of a mailbox. No copies of the original interim protocol specification or its software exist. This experimental revision was called IMAP2bis; its specification was never published in non-draft form. This draft was based upon the following earlier specifications: unpublished IMAP2bis.

When using POP, clients typically connect to the e-mail server briefly, only as long as it takes to download new messages. When using IMAP4, clients often stay connected as long as the user interface is active and download message content on demand. For users with many or large messages, this IMAP4 usage pattern can result in faster response times. The POP protocol requires the currently connected client to be the only client connected to the mailbox.

In contrast, the IMAP protocol specifically allows simultaneous access by multiple clients and provides mechanisms for clients to detect changes made to the mailbox by other, concurrently connected, clients. See for example RFC section 5. Usually all Internet e-mail is transmitted in MIME format, allowing messages to have a tree structure where the leaf nodes are any of a variety of single part content types and the non-leaf nodes are any of a variety of multipart types.

The IMAP4 protocol allows clients to retrieve any of the individual MIME parts separately and also to retrieve portions of either individual parts or the entire message. These mechanisms allow clients to retrieve the text portion of a message without retrieving attached files or to stream content as it is being fetched. Through the use of flags defined in the IMAP4 protocol, clients can keep track of message state: for example, whether or not the message has been read, replied to, or deleted.

These flags are stored on the server, so different clients accessing the same mailbox at different times can detect state changes made by other clients. POP provides no mechanism for clients to store such state information on the server so if a single user accesses a mailbox with two different POP clients at different timesstate information—such as whether a message has been accessed—cannot be synchronized between the clients.By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie PolicyPrivacy Policyand our Terms of Service.

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I can connect to the server using this line:. First thing first, is imap activated on your gmail account??? I have faced this issue while I was creating the data migration tools for different vendors like gmail rediffmail yahoo So for example you might end up with. Learn more. Asked 7 years, 1 month ago. Active 1 year, 11 months ago. Viewed 60k times. LOGIN m. I tried for instance this:?

Mansueli 4, 5 5 gold badges 26 26 silver badges 47 47 bronze badges. Denis Kutlubaev Denis Kutlubaev Terminal and shell are not the same! Active Oldest Votes. I came across this looking for a reason why the server was ignoring all of my commands. It would time out after a period of inactivity, but as long as I kept typing the connection would stay open but it never responded. Gmail seems to have rolled out an update over the past few days which now requires this option.

I had connected this way regularly for all my Gmail access without the -crlf for many years, but starting a few days ago some connections would hang, and today they were all hanging. Woods May 3 '19 at Gilles Quenot Gilles Quenot k 26 26 gold badges silver badges bronze badges.

Anshul Anshul 1, 1 1 gold badge 15 15 silver badges 39 39 bronze badges.Down the IMAP hole we go! This will be a detailed, though not exhaustive, quickstart into using IMAP. Initially this was also going to highlight the python library, imaplibbut the post was became too long! Maybe next time. By default, Gmail is cautious about any unknown client trying to access your email, which, in general, is a good philosophy.

Gmail will refuse us connection, stating that we need to log in through the web interface. For any serious IMAP commandline usage, I recommend using rlwrapwhich will allow for command completion and history.

Internet Message Access Protocol

Notice the incrementing numbers? Many people use? The client command begins an operation. Each client command is prefixed with an identifier typically a short alphanumeric string, e.

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A different tag is generated by the client for each command. LOGIN command uses a traditional user name and plaintext password pair and has no means of establishing privacy protection or integrity checking.

What is it even for? This flag can not be altered by the client. This can have disastrous affects if someone is expecting unread messages to truly be unread, and an EXAMINE command may avoid this problem.

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The spec does not require this exact immutability behavior so check with the IMAP server before commiting. The unique identifier is pretty self-explanatory, with a few caveats following, and the message sequence number is the relative position from the oldest message in the folder. If messages are deleted, sequence numbers are reordered to fill any gaps. The imaplib highlights this problem:.

So how does one use the UID command? Surprisingly easy. Take whatever command you were going to execute and prefix it with UID. If the number has changed from the last time then UIDs gather previously may be worthless. However, I believe in practice this does not happen because too many applications would break. The spec strongly suggests that:. As a result I would keep this in the back of your mind when sharing UIDs across connections either concurrent connections or sequential.

And dovecot, probably the open source IMAP server states :.

What is IMAP and How To Use It - Email Tutorial

The one advantage of message sequence numbers over UIDs is that math can be done with the sequence numbers eg. Seems like a small advantage, but some people like it. Date searching.

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The first three examples use the RFC Date header while the last three use the internal date. Testing as shown that querying on the internal date the last three examples is two orders of magnitude faster, and the message date and the internal date should be close if not equivalent. The examples query messages that are younger or older than an hour. Query on message properties.

The matching is case-insensitive. Composing multiple search criteria. The only thing special is that the operators are written in Polish notation :.

Searching can also be done on UIDs. Keep in mind the last example may be a good strategy a for mailbox listener to process all the UIDs after the last seen and any unseen messages.


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