I'm currently using Gmail through Thunderbird with IMAP so that I can digitally sign and encrypt my emails as well as work with emails that are digitally signed and encrypted. I like how, with IMAP, labeling can be done through the email client. I want to make some emails available locally (I honestly haven't decided on a policy yet, but I would like to be able to select certain emails, either individually or by tags) while having others only reside on the server (and if that means I have to go into Gmail to get them, I'm fine with that).

Can this be done? If so, how?


I don't think it can be done with IMAP, unless Tbird allows you to only synch certain tags. The nature of IMAP is that it keeps your client in synch with the server in real time, which precludes having some emails on the server but not on the client.

You could do this with POP and the setting to "keep copy on the server" then delete the local copy, but you would lose your encryption and labeling functionality.

  • I wouldn't lose the encryption functionality with POP, I don't think, since I'm using PGP encryption on the emails. However, I would lose the labeling, which is of importance to me. Of course, all of my problems would just go away if Google would implement digital signatures on emails (rarely do I deal with outright encrypted emails, so that's not too much of a problem). – Thomas Owens Aug 10 '10 at 20:10
  • @Thomas Owens - OK, it looks like you can select specific labels to download. I would set up an "Archive" label and anything you want ONLY on the server should get this label *only*(you need to do this from GMAIL directly) and be deleted from the client. I think the config is in the gmail settings. – JNK Aug 10 '10 at 20:20

I believe there is an option that you can only download e-mail to your hard drive if they have a certain label. You might wanna look into that.

That does mean however that those e-mails must have the label attached already.

  • I looked and I didn't see an option. I might have overlooked it. Can you elaborate on this? Also, will it prevent me from downloading unread emails that do not have this label? – Thomas Owens Aug 10 '10 at 20:12
  • @Thomas Owens: Will do, brb – Wollen Muts Aug 10 '10 at 20:27
  • @Thomas Owens - it would prevent you from receiving emails without that label. Read my comment on my answer for details. – JNK Aug 10 '10 at 20:30
  • Account Settings > Synchronization & Storage > Message Synchronizing > click Advanced – Wollen Muts Aug 10 '10 at 20:35

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