I currently use Icedove (Thunderbird as it's known outside of the Debian world) for accessing my Google Apps mail via IMAP. I'm interested in having this cached locally on my machine. I have lots of folders (or "labels") set up, with filters on the Gmail side of things to handle mail sorting for me. Because of this, many messages have multiple labels applied, and obviously every message will appear under "All Mail".

I'm wanting to know if I set up my account to be mirrored on my local machine, will I end up with multiple copies of the same mails? I'm starting to wonder if I should look at mail hosting elsewhere, as Gmail isn't cutting the mustard for me any more.



Gmail's labelling system effectively maps directly to IMAP folders, so an email that is tagged with multiple labels will appear to be in multiple folders in IMAP, leading to multiple copies of emails that have multiple labels.

This means that if you were to delete an email from a folder, it would just remove the label on Gmail. Deleting from the inbox would actually delete (move to trash) the email.

You can manage this to a degree, as you can choose which labels are exposed in IMAP through the label properties. You can also supress the "All Mail" folder. You can also use forward slash in a label name to influence the imap folder structure. So having labels "Customer/Customer1" and "Customer/Customer2" would result in a IMAP folder called "Customer" with two subfolders "Customer1" and "Customer2". This can mitigate some multiple label scenario so that they aren't needed.

Ultimately, the gmail labelling system is more flexible than IMAP folders, so it doesn't map perfectly.

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