About 10% of the people who ask me about emails are struggling with accessing email on several devices (phone, laptop, tablet) and finding things disappearing from one place or not appearing in another. Before we begin sorting out Inboxes it is important to make sure that your email is set up correctly so that this doesn’t happend.

To help keep things nice and clear I’m going to go through some of the jargon that gets bandied about when we talk about emails so we are all talking about the same thing.

Webmail – this is email that you access online. You can also set this up to be downloaded to an email client. Gmail, Yahoo mail, Outlook Live are all examples of webmail. You can also access domain based email online using webmail access.

Email Client – a piece of software that you can use to get to your emails. The most commonly used is Outlook but there are alternatives such as Mozilla Thunderbird, MacMail, Inky.

Domain based email – this is an email address that uses your website address (domain) as it’s second half. My domain based email is alice@alicejennings.co.uk

POP3 This stands for Post Office Protocol (v3) and describes a way of accessing your emails. POP is now a little bit outdated and has been replaced by IMAP in the main.

IMAP This stands for Internet Message Access Protocol and is the more modern way of accessing your emails which involves 2 way syncing rather than just copying.

SMTP – Simple Mail Transfer Protocol This describes the way that email is passed from whatever client (the tool you use to write the emails) to the server that will pick up the email. Think S for send. The reason you need to know this is that when you set up your email client to access your emails it can ask for your SMTP server.

What’s the difference between IMAP and POP and why should I care?

If your email is working beautifully then really you don’t need to care about this. Perhaps try and make a mental note that if you are ever given the choice you probably want to choose IMAP, stop reading this blog and go and enjoy the day.

If you have a mysterious email situation where if you send an email from your phone you don’t have a copy of it on your laptop or if you delete on your desktop it pops up again in your tablet then read on…

POP3 works just like our real post people do. The email message is moved from the email server and put onto your device. This is a one way arrangement. If you check a little box that says ‘leave a copy on the server’ then the original email will remain on the server and if you ever change to a new client when you connect up your device then all the email you ever received will come bucketing through the intersphere and land in your inbox.

IMAP on the other hand is a 2 way chat. The email client looks at the email, receives it and then if you delete it from your email client it reports back to the central server that it needs to be deleted there too please. And if you have a phone connected then the phone will also be told, next time it is connected to the internet, about the new status of the email. If you send an email from one device, all the devices check in with the central server to make sure that they grab a copy of the sent email to pop into the sent folder. This makes working seamless and easy, no worrying about what you do where as it is all synched.

What to do if you think your email is using a POP connection?

The short answer is to change the way you connect to so you are using IMAP.  This is usually quite simple to do but before you do any messing about with emails it’s always wise to take a backup just in case.

Once you have done a backup, either delete the account and then re-add it, making sure you connect using IMAP. Once you have done this you should find that if you delete an email on your phone it will delete from everywhere, equally when you send an email it will be visible in all your sent folders.

If you do get stuck on this step you can contact your email host for some extra support or get in touch and I’ll see if I can help.