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(Internet Message Access Protocol 4) A programming interface (API) from the IETF that enables a user's email program to access the mail server (RFC 3501 standard). Email clients such as Outlook, Mail, Eudora and Thunderbird are typically configured to retrieve mail either via IMAP4 or POP3, the other popular standard.

IMAP4 has more options than POP3. For example, it can download only the message headers, which have only to/from addresses and subject. An essential option in the early days of dial-up, the user then chooses which messages and attachments to download. IMAP also keeps the messages on the mail server in synchronization with the downloaded messages in the client. Users can then decide when and which messages to delete on the server.

IMAP Flexibility for Web Mail
Although mail services provide a Web browser interface for managing mail, users often prefer to get mail via their favorite email client, configured for IMAP4 or POP3. In addition, some users like to keep their email online indefinitely for future searching. In such cases, IMAP4 offers the flexibility of selectively retaining messages, whereas POP3 does not. See POP3, email interfaces, SMTP and messaging system.

Incoming Mail Options
Most Internet mail services offer all three options. IMAP4 provides the most flexibility. Users can store their messages locally and have it synchronized with the server. In addition, IMAP4 lets multiple users access the same mailbox simultaneously.
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References in periodicals archive ?
4.) Individual Users and Small Offices -- For individual users and small offices that have existing ISP e-mail accounts, Infinite Technologies provides the free service, which can allow these users to access their existing POP3 or IMAP4 mailboxes via a WAP device.
The Message Store features a POP3 server, an IMAP4 server, MailSort - an intelligent rules engine for filtering messages, and the message databases.
standard IMAP4 and POP3 servers, in addition to LAN-based systems
hMailServer provides all of the important functions needed to run an e-mail server, and supports the open e-mail standards POP3, SMTP and IMAP4, making the server compatible with most e-mail and webmail clients available.
If you have AOL, HotMail, EarthLink, MSN, Yahoo!, among thousands of other ISPs and Internet Mail providers, as well as POP3 or IMAP4 email, then NotifyLink can enable you to manage your email from your wireless 2-way device.
It's leveraging that against IMAP4 internet mail, access protocol mail, and messaging stores that will enable ISPs and large companies to deliver services that will reduce the overall cost of owning and maintaining email systems.
Although the new system can interface with many e-mail systems such as cc:Mail, Microsoft Exchange, and IMAP4, as well as be a standalone e-mail system, DCCCD chose to use the IMAP interface because its student population is highly nomadic.
Visto Mobile is said to support a wide range of e-mail systems, including Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Domino and Internet-based POP3 and IMAP4 mail.
Application and data integration is supported on ORACLE, DB2, MS SQL, LDAP, POP3, IMAP4, J2EE, SMS, WAP Push and MMS and is optimized to operate on GSM and GPRS networks.
To fully leverage its software's capability Mirapoint is depending on the build out of IMAP4 messaging services by the 3,000 or so middle-market ISPs with around 100,000 users each, plus the large companies it will target.