Why Email Deletions Don’t Sync Between Devices

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Question:

Irv writes: I have an iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Pro all getting email from my Comcast account. When I delete an email from any of my devices, the email remains on all the other devices as well as on the Comcast.net webmail service. As a result, I have to delete each email four times, one for every method by which I receive email. What can I do to force the message to be deleted on all devices when I delete it on one device?

 

Answer:

What you’re experiencing is an inherent problem with POP email. POP email keeps a separate copy of each message on every device it’s connected to and does not “sync” changes between devices. For that, you’ll need an IMAP email account. Unfortunately, Comcast does not as of today provide IMAP accounts for residential customers, only for business accounts. There are, however, several free IMAP alternatives such as Gmail and iCloud.

iCloud Syncs email via IMAP

Services like iCloud sync email via the IMAP protocol.

Your first option is to simply switch to one of these free alternatives by setting up a new and separate email account. A second option to create a new IMAP account and then set up your Comcast email to forward to the new account. 

A note of caution: if and when the time comes to delete a POP email account, make sure you have copies of your messages in that account backed up if you want to save them. Deleting a POP account will almost always delete all the messages, including Sent mail, in that account.

This question was originally answered on MGG 367: Photo Stream, Email, FTP, iDevice Backups

About MGG Answers:

Each week Dave Hamilton and John F. Braun provide some great troubleshooting advice to listeners of the Mac Geek Gab podcast. Here with MGG Answers we share some of those tips with the rest of the world!

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