IMAP-IDLE plugin for Apple Mail

In: Applications|Mac|Mozilla

25 Feb 2007

Yup I switched to Apple Mail from Thunderbird a few months back, primary reason being back then I was barely able to run my developer applications on 512MB of RAM (Apple Mail runs lighter than Thunderbird, unfortunately). It’s comforting to find that there is an IMAP-IDLE plugin for Apple Mail (Thunderbird got its IDLE support way back in 2004.)

What’s IDLE? Well, quoting myself:

Simply put, IDLE is a command that allows IMAP email servers to transmit updates to the client in real time. This saves the client from having to continuously poll the server to achieve the effect of new mail appearing immediately. All in all, an exceptionally useful command that saves Thunderbird the work of polling IMAP servers continuously.

So anyway, it’s really simple to install and use (just simple checkboxes for enabling IDLE for your IMAP accounts).

Preference pane for Apple Mail IMAP-IDLE plugin

Remember to configure Mail to stop polling these mail accounts every X minutes or so now. Enjoy the geeky feeling of knowing you’ve just saved several CPU cycles and a few kilobytes of bandwidth.

2 Responses to IMAP-IDLE plugin for Apple Mail


Harish Mallipeddi

February 26th, 2007 at 12pm

Thanks. Didn’t know about IMAP-IDLE before reading this. Googling it seems to return lot of results about iPhone using IDLE with Yahoo! Mail for push mail. AFAIK, the way it seems to work is to keep a TCP connection to the IMAP server alive and listen on that port for updates from the server.

I really don’t have a problem with IMAP polling every 1 minute or so in terms of bandwidth or CPU cycles. The actual annoying part is when Outlook brings up a pop-up window complaining that it couldn’t make the connection because of some network error (and then it freezes and I have to stop it and re-launch it). Switching to IDLE wouldn’t really fix this problem (I think!) because Outlook might still complain that it lost this TCP connection.


redemption in a blog - Thunderbird 2.0 and Gmail integration

April 29th, 2007 at 3pm

[...] email client with Thunderbird than with Apple Mail. Posted by Chu Yeow at April 29, 2007 SGT | Permalink | | Category:Mozilla [...]