Account Setup


Adding a new account is done using the “File ▸ Add IMAP Account…” menu item. This will initially show you a simple “wizard” with a single email address field. Given one or more email addresses, it will offer to automatically search for IMAP and SMTP settings using various methods. If successful, you will then be able to add these accounts to MailMate. Search results and/or errors can be seen in the context senstive menu of each email address given. If you prefer to enter settings manually then this is still possible. In this case, you may find Apple’s lookup page helpful if you do not know the server settings. If you need to edit or delete an existing account then use “Mailbox ▸ Edit Source…” or “Mailbox ▸ Remove Source” after selecting the account under “Sources” in the mailbox list. You can also reorder your accounts under “Sources”. This ordering is used whenever MailMate needs to display a list of accounts.

The configurable values are as follows:

MailMate can also be told to recognize email addresses as belonging to the user while never using these addresses for any address headers. No GUI exists for this feature yet. You must manually add retiredAddressPattern to this file: ~/Library/Application Support/MailMate/Identities.plist.


If you are migrating from an email client with support for IMAP then the easiest way to migrate is to ensure that all of your messages are located on IMAP servers.

If you are migrating from a POP3 only email client then you can try the “File ▸ Import Messages…” menu item in MailMate. You are then asked to chooses files or folders to import, and you also need to specify an IMAP mailbox to be used as the root for the imported messages. MailMate imports the following:

MailMate uses names of mbox files and names of folders in the hierarchy scanned to create a hierarchy of IMAP mailboxes.

Note that the file extensions noted above are currently hardcoded, i.e., MailMate ignores all other files.


The IMAP standard includes the concept of mailbox subscriptions. In short, the server maintains a list of subscribed (and unsubscribed) mailboxes. If your IMAP account is part of a webmail client then you can also use this subscription state to avoid fetching all mailboxes available in the web based interface. This is particularly useful for handling Gmail.

MailMate goes one step further with respect to mailbox subscriptions and adds the concept of client-side subscriptions as opposed to the server-side subscriptions described above. Client-side subscriptions are maintained locally by MailMate. This has the advantage that you can can use MailMate for a selected set of mailboxes and still have other mailboxes appear in other email applications, or in MailMate itself on another machine. It can also be used for handling Gmail accounts as an alternative to server-side subscriptions. Currently, it is not possible to subscribe to a mailbox client-side if it is not subscribed server-side.

Note that some email clients do not (and cannot be configured to) respect server-side subscription states and simply synchronize all mailboxes in the personal namespace. Therefore you cannot unsubscribe a mailbox in MailMate and then expect it to work for all other email clients as well.

Account States

When you look under “SOURCES” in the mailbox list then you might see one or more accounts in a greyed out state. This means that the account is not online. When this happens then a state string is shown in parentheses. These should be interpreted as follows:

State Description
Offline This should only happen if the account was explicitly taken offline by the user. You can take it online in the “Mailbox” menu. Individual mailboxes within an account can also be taken offline.
Disconnected The system tells MailMate that the server is unreachable. This is not always correct and therefore MailMate is still going to occasionally try to connect. This mostly happens when there is a network issue or the machine is offline.
Unavailable Similar to “Disconnected” but it’s not the system that claims the server is unreachable. MailMate will automatically try to reconnect later.
Failed Some persistent issue with a response from the server has triggered the account (or possible just a single mailbox) to enter the “Failed” state.
Throttled Some servers throttle traffic when a lot of bandwidth is used, especially when initially synchronizing an account. MailMate automatically waits a bit before continuing the synchronization. This works for accounts using the [THROTTLED] response code. Currently this only means Gmail.

Whenever something is failing then the “Activity Viewer” (⌥⌘0) can be used to learn more. Logging is enabled whenever the window is open and the log of each connection can be viewed in the lower part of the window.

Synchronization Schedule

The “Mailbox” menu has a “Synchronization Schedule” submenu which can be used to tell MailMate when to synchronize the emails in a given mailbox. If a mailbox has not been configured to use a specific schedule then it uses the schedule of its parent mailbox. This also means that setting a schedule on the account itself works as a default for the entire account. The INBOX is special since it always defaults to using the “Connected” state.

Schedule Description
Connected The connection to the mailbox is never closed and therefore new messages and other changes should be detected immediately (depending on server behavior). This is also known as IMAP IDLE. You should not have more than 2 or 3 mailboxes using this schedule in a given account.
Every … MailMate checks the mailbox on a regular basis ranging from 5 minutes to 1 hour.
Manually The mailbox is not checked on a regular basis.

In any case, an IMAP mailbox is always synchronized when it’s selected or if there exists any client side changes which need to be synchronized with the server. The only way to prevent synchronization completely is to take the mailbox offline.


MailMate aims to support all standards compliant IMAP servers and as many non-standard IMAP servers as possible. One of the non-standard IMAP servers is the one provided by [Gmail][] (Google’s free webmail service). Its name is Gimap. The following explains how Gmail works via IMAP and how MailMate handles it. You only really need to know the following if you use labels in Gmail like you would use tags in other applications. Otherwise, you just need to know that MailMate works well with Gmail.

The official IMAP email client instructions from Google can be found here. There’s also a technical page describing how Google thinks of Gimap as an extension of IMAP. The truth is that it is more like a replacement. It has to be emphasized that it does not behave like a standard IMAP server which is also why it has a special section in this manual.

“All Mail” and Gmail labels

MailMate encourages the use of a single mailbox for archiving messages (for each IMAP account). This concept is similar to the “All Mail” mailbox in Gmail, but unfortunately it is not quite the same thing. With MailMate, a message is not in the “Archive” mailbox unless it has been explicitly archived. With Gmail, a message is (almost) always in “All Mail” and is simply removed from the “Inbox” when it is archived. In other words, with Gmail, the same message can be in multiple IMAP mailboxes. This is even more apparent when using labels (or starring messages).

IMAP does not support the Gmail model. If a message needs to be in multiple mailboxes then it must be duplicated. Instead, IMAP supports so-called keywords (flags), but Google decided to not use these for labels. The main reasons (good or bad) are probably that IMAP keywords are/were not well supported by many email clients and that it would require users to manually setup smart mailboxes for all their Gmail labels. Google chose a different approach which can be best described as a hack.

Each label in Gmail becomes a real mailbox when accessing the messages via IMAP. Existing email clients do not expect this and the result is that each message is fetched multiple times, once for each of its labels. Even if not using labels, the problem persists since every message in Inbox, Sent Mail or Drafts are also located in All Mail. In MailMate it becomes even worse because of the special “All Messages” virtual mailbox which is going to include all the duplicates.

Fortunately, MailMate can work around this problem.

How to configure MailMate

If you click “Edit Subscriptions” in the IMAP account editor for a Gmail account then you might notice that “[Gmail]/Starred” and “[Gmail]/Important” are unsubscribed. It is important to keep it that way. The starred emails are equivalent to flagged emails. If you need the “Important” emails then you must setup a tag in MailMate to match the special \Important Gmail label.

The “[Gmail]/All Mail” mailbox might also be unsubscribed, but this is optional. If you don’t subscribe to it then there’s is likely going to be emails on the server which do not appear in MailMate. If you do subscribe to it then MailMate will do its best to only synchronize the emails which do not exist in any of your other Gmail mailboxes (in order to avoid duplicates in MailMate). It’ll also be used as your “Archive” mailbox when it is subscribed. Otherwise, a new mailbox named “[Gmail]/Archive” is created and used as the archive mailbox.

Here comes the important part. Gmail labels falls into two categories:

If you go to the Tags preferences pane in MailMate (⌘,) then notice the “Gmail Label” column. This can be used to tell MailMate to consider some tag name to be equivalent to a specific Gmail label. This has the following consequences:

The end result of all this is that Gmail accounts and IMAP accounts can nicely co-exist without MailMate becoming a Gmail email client instead of an IMAP email client. You must subscribe to “[Gmail]/All Mail” for this to work when the labelled emails do not exist in any other mailboxes.