I recently started using the same IMAP GMail email account from many different devices, i.e., I access my GMail account using the web interface, my iPhone, and Mac Mail on my laptop. One of the big advantages of using IMAP mail is that your folder structure is on the server. This means when you mark something read, move something to a folder, or do anything to your email messages, all of your clients should see the change. For example, if I get 10 emails and check them on my iPhone, they should be marked read when I use the web interface or Mac Mail. Likewise, when I send an email from my iPhone, it should be in my sent folder on Mac Mail and the web interface.
I first noticed that these 3 nodes weren’t synchronized when I went to look for an email I sent with my iPhone but couldn’t find it in my Mac Mail “Sent” folder. In Mac Mail, I expanded the “MarkMcB” section (i.e., the name of my mail account) and found that the key Gmail folders were being treated as ordinary folders by Mac.
The solution for alignment was simple. All I had to do was highlight each folder under [Gmail] that was important, click on the “Mailbox” dropdown menu item, and tell Mac Mail to use the folder as one of the special folders.
After doing this for sent, trash, and junk, Mac Mail released control of the folders that it had created to be the special folders and listed them under MarkMcB. These folders were now obsolete, but they still had messages in them. I simply went through each and moved the messages to the new sent, junk, and trash folders.
Once all messages were moved to their new homes, I had no need for the old folders. I simply highlighted all of them and deleted them.
Now I have a nice, clean, and aligned mailbox structure. The iPhone smartly detected the changes and aligned to the new layout. (If yours doesn’t, you can manually tell it which folders to use in your iPhone email account settings.)
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