IMAP inbox local storage



I did a quick search here, didn't find an answer. I want to use IMAP so that my emails are in sync across my MBP, iPhone and iPad. But IMAP doesn't seem to store emails on my local HD like POP does. I've seen mention of "On My Mac" being the local storage, but I have no "On My Mac" inbox or Sent mail. The only "On My Mac" is in Archives, where I have deliberately taken out of the Inbox older messages.

So, is there a setting for Mail that tells it to store the inbox and sent mail box locally? Is there a third party tool to do that? Is there a process by which I can do that?

Jan 20, 2012
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North Carolina
Your Mac's Specs
Air M2 ('22) OS 14.5; M3 iMac ('23) OS 14.5; iPad Pro; iPhone 14
Did I stump the Mail experts?

Hey Jake - don't believe that I can help much, but just to let you know some of us are looking at your thread - :)

What email account(s) are you using? I'm on Yahoo IMAP which does not keep my inbox locally stored on my MBPro (but you already know that) - when I use to be on POP3, there was an option (at least in Yahoo, so may not be a universal option w/ other email providers) to save a copy of email on their server - probably OK w/ just a few devices to synchronize.

On IMAP, I believe that separate folders need to be set up to 'copy' your emails to - this seems to be a manual procedure, so not sure if the process can be automated or if there is a selection in Apple Mail to perform this backup? You can also export your folders, such as Inbox, to an archive that can be saved locally, but again not sure how automated this is vs. just doing it manually when desired. Not very helpful, sorry - Dave


Yes, you can have your emails stored locally under IMAP -- but not the inbox. The whole idea of IMAP is that mail is stored on the server so that it can sync to the other devices.

You can, however, have Mail (or any other email program on the Mac) move email off the server and into another (locally created) mailbox. So, most of my incoming mail goes through the rules and filters and much of it gets filed into other mailboxes (work, family, receipts, etc) that are locally stored.

For me, this amounts to a result that only "uncategorized" mail isn't locally stored. This may work for you as well.


OK, I can do that, chas_m. I just wanted to make sure there wasn't a "systemic" way. But I can write a rule, easy enough.


OK, rule written tested, seems to be working. One follow up question: Am I correct that when using IMAP SENT mail is stored locally as long as I want it? Or do I need to CC myself to get everything I send into my inbox so the rule can work?

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