What is an IMAP Protocol in the Computer Network?

IMAP stands for Internet Message Access Protocol. It is a standard protocol for creating email on a small server from a local user. It is an application-layer Internet Protocol utilizing the basic transport layer protocols to create host-to-host communication services for applications. This enables the use of a remote mail server. The well-known port location for IMAP is 143.

The IMAP architecture allows users to send and receive emails through a small server without support from a specific device. This type of email access is the goal for travelers receiving or answering emails from their home desktop or office system.

This method is also known as interactive mail access protocol, Internet mail access protocol, and interim mail access protocol. IMAP can be used widely but is less important now that so much email is transmitted via web-based interfaces including Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, etc.

It is an approach of accessing e-mail messages on a server without having to download them to the local hard drive. This is the main difference between IMAP and another famous e-mail protocol known as POP3.

POP3 needed clients to download messages to their hard drives before reading them. The benefit of using an IMAP mail server is that clients can verify their mail from various computers and continually view similar messages. This is because the messages continue on the server just before the client selects to download them from their local drive.


The advantages of IMAP are as follows −

  • It allows us to create our email messages from anywhere, via as many different devices as you want.

  • It can only download a message when we click on it. As a result, we do not have to wait for all of our new messages to download from the server before we can read them.

  • The attachments are not automatically downloaded with IMAP. As a result, you’re able to check your messages a lot more quickly and have greater control over which attachments are opened.

  • IMAP can be used offline, just like the Post Office Protocol (POP).

  • It includes the ability to delete messages, search for keywords in the body of emails, create and manage multiple mailboxes or folders, and view the headings for easy visual scans of emails.

Email Messaging

For email messaging, every domain has email server computer set-up. These email servers run protocol software that enables electronic communication. There are two main email protocols, POP and SMTP.

POP is concerned with the retrieval of an email message stored on a server computer, whereas SMTP is actually responsible for transmitting an email to the user.

Updated on: 05-May-2021

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