IMAP synchronization support


I’m not so sure I have the last mailpile version installed or maybe I didn’t look well enough for this info. But I’m not so clear about the IMAP synchronization status.

Emails deletions, moving… are not synchronized with the server at the moment I think. Am I mistaken? Will that be supported soon?

In a multi-device environment, using many different mail clients, it still makes mailpile not a usable option for me for this reason so far.


You are correct, Mailpile does not synchronize with the IMAP server. It downloads and optionally deletes from the server.

And yes, this rules it out for some users. Someday this limitation will be addressed, but it’s a big task and until then we just have to smile and encourage people to use other tools if this matters to them.

Our intermediate “mitigation strategy” here, is to make sure the Mailpile web UI is accessible over the Internet (even for home installations), so you can interact with your home Mailpile from your phone, or from work. This reduces the need for multiple mail clients.

One of the reasons this strategy was chosen, is because multiple mail clients and PGP encryption really don’t play well together. Copying keys all over the place and managing them is not fun for mere mortals. If we want to actually make progress encouraging people to use PGP for all their mail, we need to solve the remote access problem and allow them to abandon all the mail clients that don’t do a good job with encryption.

I hope this clarifies a bit and explains why things are this way.

Edit: Just to clarify, as I write this the remote access stuff is still a work in progress. You can roll your own using Tor hidden services and/or PageKite (or good old fashioned port forwarding), but the goal is for both to be a button-push away, even for non-technical users.


Yep, I understand :slight_smile: It’s a nice approach also.
I still think you shouldn’t underestimate the great user experience improvements brought by openkeychain+K9 mail on android for example, which make PGP encryption and key’s handling reasonably easy for average users nowadays.

I’m looking forward to when mailpile will support IMAP synchronization :wink:

Also to access the Mailpile web UI over the internet, it could be interesting to connect it to a selfhosting system like yunohost. I’m not sure what technical issues would raise to create a mailpile yunohost app, but it may not be so complicated and would definitely be really cool!


Many of these decisions were made before developments like that happened. If I were starting from scratch today, I might make different choices!

But even so, no matter how nice K9 is, that doesn’t help iPhone users, and it doesn’t really change the fact that managing keys by hand is something people just shouldn’t have to do.

The Autocrypt effort (which both Openkeychain/K9 and Mailpile are involved in) has made progress towards specifying how to sync keys between devices, but a manual step involving a long security code will still be required.

And none of this is a reason to not support IMAP synchronization, but it hopefully clarifies why we are doing other things first. If I had a million dollars and a team of devs, we’d do both!


@BjarniRunar Thank you for your detailed answer. I didn’t mean to criticize the choices and priorities you decided at all, mailpile is a great software and it’s been some years I’m looking impatiently for the moment it will have IMAP synchronization support so I can start using it, that’s why I was asking the question :slight_smile:
But I totally understand the direction you go to and the efforts you’re making, it’s a great goal.
Thank you for all the work you made and for mailpile’s existence!!!