How to save email downloaded to an iPhone or iPad via POP3 or a local iOS mail folder

It’s straightforward to suppose that an iOS backup would come with all the non-public information saved in your iPhone or iPad. But Apple explains in a help web page that some issues aren’t copied off your telephone, as a result of they’re saved elsewhere. This consists of “information saved in different cloud companies, like Gmail and Exchange mail.”

What if you happen to obtain messages from an email account to your iOS gadget and so they’re deleted from the server? Those emails are gone for good when your iPhone or iPad is restored from backup or dies. Apple doesn’t point out this within the help notice or elsewhere, though it might have an effect on individuals who retailer sure messages regionally on their gadgets as an alternative of synced with a mail server.

The predominant concern is for people utilizing an outdated technique of email retrieval known as POP3. POP3 pulls down messages from an email server, nevertheless it doesn’t actually report the state of messages that stay on a server. Most POP3 configurations obtain a message then delete it from the server.

The IMAP protocol has virtually totally changed POP3. It permits synchronization of messages and folders between shoppers and servers, providing you with entry to the identical messages and message submitting group on all of your gadgets, like Dropbox or iCloud Drive for mail.

Mail largely stays on the server, with some exceptions. You can choose to configure iOS in order that any or your entire Drafts, Deleted, and Archive folders are saved regionally on a gadget. (See Settings > Passwords & Accounts > your mail account > Account > Advanced, and faucet any merchandise below Mailbox Behaviors.)

This has left a hole for individuals both utilizing POP3 or local storage for a few of their IMAP particular folders as a result of if in case you have a sudden gadget failure, want to restore a telephone or pill from a backup, or need to migrate from one gadget to one other, this regionally saved email is misplaced.

Move your POP3 mail

However, you may transfer all this email to an IMAP-supporting email account. It’s straightforward if you happen to use a set of actions that Apple doesn’t doc, however will save you an monumental period of time—you don’t have to choose every message individually.

(This is the most effective trick I’ve discovered about in iOS Mail in years, and a large hat tip to this 2015 article at TapSmart, that explains it when it comes to deleting all messages in a folder.)


With a few faucets, beginning right here, you may choose all messages in a mail folder.

If you don’t have already got an IMAP account arrange, create one and set it up in iOS, even when it’s momentary. Services like Gmail allow you to create free accounts and help IMAP. You may also use iCloud email, however verify that you’ve got sufficient free iCloud storage.

Now in every particular person folder that has downloaded messages, observe these steps, which require shut consideration. (The video after the directions show the steps under.)

  1. Tap Edit.
  2. Tap the checkbox to the left of the topmost message.
  3. Now faucet and maintain the Move button on the backside.
  4. While nonetheless holding the Move button, use one other finger to uncheck the message choice field on the prime.
  5. Release the Move button.
  6. In a few second, a Move message seems that exhibits that every one messages in that mailbox can be found to be moved.
  7. Tap Accounts on the higher left, after which faucet the mail account to which you need to transfer the mail, after which faucet the folder.

I don’t know of any email service that solely permits POP3 retrieval, so you need to be ready to change from POP3 to IMAP on any mail host you presently use. (Because IMAP syncs messages, you would possibly lose any downloaded mail. Make positive and replica all of your messages off earlier than switching to IMAP even on the similar mail host.)

Visit your mail host or discuss to a system administrator to get the IMAP settings, and use the Settings path above to replace your account. If you may’t use IMAP, arrange a new account!

This Mac 911 article is in response to a query submitted by Macworld reader John.

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