Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I need to save all of my IMAP mail in an account I have that will be expiring, to my local disk. The problem is that no matter which IMAP backup tool I can find, there is always some loss of information, like the "SEEN" flag, other metadata, or the folder structure of the e-mails. I need to preserve the status of whether a message was read or not -- the SEEN flag. This is apparently a design flaw with the IMAP protocol. Thunderbird's ImportExportTools has no way to save flags. Flags like SEEN are not naturally part of the message like all the other headers, and nearly no backup tools care about it. I once successfully used Imapsync to migrate one IMAP account on one server into a subfolder of this one which is on another server, but that's because it copies the flags into the server state. Imapsync is no longer free software, and I need to map the flags to local data this time. Ideally I would like to be able to open the messages locally in a program like Thunderbird and have it appear correctly and marked as read/unread, but at the very least I need to download the messages fully intact with all the metadata.

Is this at all possible?

share|improve this question

Have you tried IMAPSize yet? It is a freeware tool for Windows and suitable for backing up IMAP folders. I'm not exactly sure if it handles the seen flag correctly, but I think it's worth a try.

enter image description here

share|improve this answer

OfflineIMAP can synchronize IMAP repositories to local Maildirs quite well. Preserving message state is part of its functionality.

(IMAP doesn't necessarily cause loss of the 'Seen' flag. Folders can be opened in read-only mode, and messages can be retrieved with BODY.PEEK without being marked.)

share|improve this answer
Damn it! I tried using OfflineIMAP but after downloading thousands of messages, it actually begain UPLOADING copies of messages back to the server! Why would it do that? Is there not even one single, free tool to DOWNLOAD and ONLY DOWNLOAD the entire IMAP folder tree to a local Maildir? Why is this so hard to accomplish without causing extra damage? – user553702 Oct 10 '11 at 14:34
@user553702: OfflineIMAP does that because it's a synchronization tool. It does, however, have an option to make one side read-only. – grawity Dec 5 '12 at 19:24

You must log in to answer this question.

protected by random Nov 25 '11 at 5:33

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .