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Question from Julie: What is the best program for synchronizing emails between an iPhone, MacBooks and I Mac? I want to be able to fully control account activity from any device and not have to duplicate those actions on any other device.

Jason answers: There isn’t a program that syncs your email across all of these devices (iPhone, MacBook, and iMac) that I know of. To stay synced across all these devices would require a certain type of email account, an IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) account.

Essentially, an IMAP account stores your email on the server and your devices stay in sync with email on the server. No matter what device accesses the IMAP account, the device reads the email directly from the server without downloading it and deleting it off the server. You can read, delete, create folders and move messages all on the email server and your other devices will see those changes.

Many email providers give you a choice of IMAP or POP/POP3 (Post Office Protocol) accounts. POP accounts work best when using a single device to check your email.

With POP, when you read your email, it is downloaded and marked as read on the server. Immediately, or after a designated time, the email message is deleted off the server. You can see how this does not work with multiple devices. You would check your email with your MacBook and those messages would be marked as read and/or deleted. If you decide to check your email with your iMac, those messages aren’t there anymore.

We have a lot of customers that have email accounts with AT&T DSL or Yahoo. Unfortunately, they do not offer IMAP access. Charter has started offering IMAP. Gmail and MobileMe also offer IMAP access.

Since IMAP stores email on the server, your IMAP account needs some storage space. Most providers that offer IMAP access give you plenty of storage. Gmail is constantly adding more, but they have more than 7GB. MobileMe gives you up to 20GB. I am not sure what Charter gives you.

In summary, if you don’t have an IMAP account with your email service, then there isn’t a program that keeps all these devices in sync with email. You will need to get a new email service. With Gmail and MobileMe, you can set up an IMAP account and have them check your POP accounts to keep your email in sync.


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