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I am using a corporate mail account which is synchronized via IMAP to both my desktop client and my iPhone, which is exactly the way I like it. However, the account has a limited quota. With POP3 access, this was not a problem, as POP3 clients could be configured to remove messages from server after specified time. This option is missing from my Apple Mail IMAP account configuration pane.

Is there a way to replicate this feature with an IMAP account, either on the client, or on the server side?

If not, I will probably have to move old messages manually to some local folder on my Mac. Is there a method to retain a single-click searchability of both archived and current mail folders together?

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By design, IMAP keeps the email client and server in-sync, so one cannot delete messages from the server without deleting the local copy as well. So indeed: messages need to be moved to a local Mail folder, and the question really is just: Is there a method to retain a single-click searchability of both archived and current mail folders together? – Arjan Jan 27 '10 at 12:00
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Given Arjan's two comments to your question, I'm going to address your last question, as I think that your best option is to create an "Archive" folder on your local hard drive and move your old emails there manually periodically.

As for searching, if I'm interpreting correctly, you mean whether or not you can search all your mail using the search in the top-right corner. The answer is yes that you can search all your mail using that box. In any search, you can either select All Mailboxes or [the currently selected mailbox]*. All Mailboxes would include your newly created local Archive folder. This would work regardless of where the email is physically located, whether on the IMAP server or on your hard drive.

*Searching IMAP relies on having cached all messages, with or without attachments in Mail.

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I’ve been wanting to do this. Basically what I’m looking for is a client that will allow me to read and send email from multiple accounts, save interesting emails locally, keep messages on the server for a while after reading it—perhaps a week or two—so I can still read it on my smartphone out and about, and delete message from the server after that time as elapsed.

The solution I’m looking at now is RMAIL (part of emacs), which I think does everything I mentioned above—except the deleting bit. And then deletemail for the remaining deleting part. Unfortunately although deletemail won’t delete unread emails it doesn’t seem to be able to tell when a message has been read so if I configure it to delete after 4 days and view a 6 day old email for the first time it will delete that email next time I run it even though I only just saw it a moment ago. But I think I can live with that. I‘m not usually away from my email for very long.

I’m not completely sure how I’m gonna hook the two together yet.

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