Port 143 TCP UDP

IMAP - Internet Message Access Protocol

Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) management of email messages, defined by RFC3501

Overview of IMAP

IMAP is a protocol used for the management of eMail storage on a mail server, it is commonly used by an email user/client to view, access and edit the messages on the remote server, and emulate an experience of the message actually been stored locally on the end user’s computer.

IMAP compared to POP3

The protocol is now commonly used as an alternative to the POP3 protocol, as it is substantially more feature rich, as POP3 would download each eMail onto the client’s devices, making the state between a client’s different devices substantially harder to synchronize, where is IMAP perform a synchronization between the Client and Server, giving the same Inbox experiance across all devices on a specific eMail account.

An eMail client will typically still use IMAP with another protocol SMTP, which handles the submitting/sending of emails from the client to the mail server for onward delivery to their destination.

Both IMAP and SMTP can be further secured with the use of TLS, and in modern times this is the common configuration for most eMail clients and services.

IMAP Operations

IMAP4 (rev1) includes different commands and operations to control the eMail Inbox and account, some of these are for creating, deleting, and renaming mailboxes, then checking for new messages, permanently removing (deleting) messages, setting and clearing flags on specific mails, parsing, searching, and selective fetching of message attributes, texts, and portions of text.

However the protocl does not specify a means of posting (sending) mail, this function is therefore handled by SMTP (RFC 2381) which also works via TCP.


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External Links: RFC3501

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