If I use pop3/imap to read my gmail via a desktop client can I also set it to show emails that google automatically puts into the spam folder?


With IMAP, yes. The Spam folder is available as [Gmail]/Spam.

POP3 is very limited, and only allows accessing messages from INBOX. This is limitation of POP3 itself.


If you need to access spam messages using pop3, you can create a filter to never place e-mail in the spam folder. According to http://aaron-kelley.net/blog/2008/08/disable-gmail-spam-filter-include-spam-in-pop3-download/

  1. Go to gmail.com
  2. Create a new filter
  3. Type * in the From field
  4. In the next screen, select "Never send it to spam"
  5. POP3 now downloads spam too

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