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My ISP uses Gmail for their email handling - but, sorry Gmail lovers, I don't like it. I much prefer a desktop mail client; Thunderbird specifically at present.

However, I've had a computer failure and really need - if at all possible - to be able to download the entirety of my Gmail folder via POP from my ISP's mail servers. I know about IMAP, I know about the webmail interface, but they won't do what I need unfortunately - which I accept is an odd requirement!

The mail is, as far as I can tell, still on the server but Thunderbird won't download it because it's not marked as new. Is there any way around this?

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You can download all messages over IMAP; just drag and drop them to a local folder. You can even upload them to another IMAP server. Also, OfflineIMAP, getmail, fetchmail for making automated local backups. – grawity Nov 3 '11 at 14:08
IMAP is also cached locally, or at least can be in Thunderbird. I do it. – horatio Nov 3 '11 at 16:27

Prefix the username with recent: to activate the "recent" mode, which will download all mail from the last 30 days.

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+1 Did not know about recent mode. Exactly what I needed. Thanks! – L84 Dec 27 '12 at 18:56

To "force" a re-download of all IMAP messages in Thunderbird; try renaming / deleting popstate.dat per this wiki I just used this method on TB v17 to download several years of emails. I first moved my current inbox for that account to a temp folder and then after the emails downloaded I copied them all back in and ran a duplicate check.

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up vote 0 down vote accepted

Thanks to Grawity for pointing me in the right direction, but I've now found the even better option - 'Backing up your mail with POP'.

(Which seems to keep locking on individual messages and so requires rather more hand-holding than is ideal, but never mind... It's progress.)

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This is how I fixed it. Be careful: You'll need to reset your account parameters!

  • Transfer your present inbox to a local folder
  • Then delete the email account corresponding to this inbox (Tools » Account parameter)
  • Then re-open this same account, brand new.

Thunderbird will download all messages to the new setup account.

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