I want my two computers to have identical e-mail files.
May 18, 2010 1:13 PM   Subscribe

Please help me synchronize the e-mail on my two Macs, using short words and helpful illustrations.

I have an iMac and a MacBook, which I use equally. I use the Mail app to read and reply to my Gmail e-mail. I like to save old e-mails on my computer as well as on Gmail, as I'm a belt-and-suspenders sort of person. I don't want to switch to just using Gmail's website, as it's annoying.

Here's what I would like to have happen:

1. I check my e-mail, using Mail.app, on one of my computers.
2. I reply to the e-mail. My reply is stored in my "sent mail" folder.
3. I either move the original e-mail to my "old mail" folder or delete it.
4. Next time I'm on the other computer, Mail.app has the same e-mails in the same folders.

I thought I had this all sorted but I must be doing something wrong, as I'm ending up with three copies of every e-mail I save or send. Can you please tell me how to set this up? I have a MobileMe account, if that's useful. Clearly I don't know what I'm doing so the more detail, the better.

If you know how to throw an iPhone into the mix that would be even more helpful, but that's not as important.
posted by The corpse in the library to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Are you configuring your Gmail settings in Apple Mail to use IMAP service? Configuring both computers to use IMAP is perhaps among the easiest ways to ensure everything is "sync"-ed transparently.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:22 PM on May 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

IMAP is the correct answer.
posted by Mwongozi at 1:31 PM on May 18, 2010

posted by ldenneau at 1:36 PM on May 18, 2010

Response by poster: I am using IMAP, Blazecock, but I'm ending up with multiple copies of everything. For example, an e-mail I want to archive is now in my "Old mail" folder and also in an "All Mail" folder on the iMac, and just in the "All Mail" folder on the MacBook. I've tried fiddling with the settings Gmail recommends, but I can't figure out how to get them just right.

More detail: the "Old mail" folder is on the iMac, and is a relic going back to pre-Gmail days. Do I need to give up on the "Old mail" folder and start a new system, following Gmail's IMAP instructions to a T?
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:56 PM on May 18, 2010

Best answer: The concept of the 'All Mail' label/folder works best when logged into the GMail web interface, and not so much when using Mail.app.

To make life as easy as possible when it comes to Multiple Macs + GMail + Mail.app, I cannot recommend Joe Kissel's Achieving Email Bliss with IMAP, Gmail, and Apple Mail highly enough.
posted by Wild_Eep at 2:01 PM on May 18, 2010 [3 favorites]

Is everything in Gmail? If all the email you need (aside from that 'Old Mail' folder) exists online in Gmail and you can access it there - since I have no idea how they're configured now, I suggest you remove all the accounts from Mail on both computers and start over. I have Gmail set up as IMAP on 4 Macs and it works just perfectly.

These instructions assume you're using OS X 10.6.3

In Gmail
1. In Gmail click on 'Settings'
2. Choose 'Forwarding and POP/IMAP'
3. Make sure IMAP is enabled.

In Apple's Mail Application
1. Open Mail on your Mac
2. Go to the 'Mail' menu at the top of the screen and choose 'Preferences'
3. Click on the 'Accounts' tab
4. Select the existing mail account
5. Click the minus (-) sign at the bottom left of the window
6. Repeat for any accounts you don't want or any duplicate instances of Gmail (POP, IMAP)
7. Close that Preference window
8. Go back to the file menu at the top of the screen and choose "Add Account"
9. Enter the info for your Gmail account
10. Repeat on the other Mac

You can continue dragging your mail into local folders (like 'Old Mail') if you want, but there's not much reason to. The mail is all accessible from Gmail's site and a copy is kept locally on your Mac in case you need it. But any mail you drag into a local folder on one of your Macs will not be available on the other - you would have to keep them in folders under the Gmail account (b/c these are stored on Gmail's servers) to be able to see them on the other Mac.
posted by jardinier at 2:12 PM on May 18, 2010

Best answer: It sounds like your "Old Mail" folder sits outside the Gmail folder -- is that correct? By this, I mean if you click on the hide/show triangle next to "Gmail" in the mail folder list, you can still see "Old Mail" further down the list of folders.

If so, any mail in that folder will be accessible only on one computer, because the messages it contains are probably no longer in your Gmail account -- they are "outside" Gmail.

If you keep an "Old Mail" folder, it just has to reside within the Gmail folder to be sync'ed magically across both computers.

Just right-click or Control-click on the "Gmail" folder to create a new mail folder. To be clear, perhaps call this folder "Old Gmail" and keep your "old" messages here.

All of your Gmail sessions on all computers will see this "Old Gmail" folder transparently, and you can drag and drop messages into it from either computer.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:46 PM on May 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

I should add that once you create this "Old Gmail" folder, you can drag messages into it from both computers' "Old Mail" folders, to merge them in one location.

You may get duplicates of old messages, but at least going forward you will be set to go with a fully sync'ed setup.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:52 PM on May 18, 2010

Response by poster: Done! Thanks.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:34 AM on May 19, 2010

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