IMAP allows you to access your email wherever you are, from any device. When you read an email message using IMAP, you aren’t actually downloading or storing it on your computer; instead, you’re reading it from the email service. As a result, you can check your email from different devices, anywhere in the world: your phone, a computer, a friend’s computer.
IMAP only downloads a message when you click on it, and attachments aren’t automatically downloaded. This way you’re able to check your messages a lot more quickly than POP.
POP works by contacting your email service and downloading all of your new messages from it. Once they are downloaded onto your PC or Mac, they are deleted from the email service. This means that after the email is downloaded, it can only be accessed using the same computer. If you try to access your email from a different device, the messages that have been previously downloaded won’t be available to you.
Sent mail is stored locally on your PC or Mac, not on the email server.
Webmail accounts vs email apps
If you’ve used Gmail, Outlook.com, Hotmail.com, or iCloud, then you’ve used webmail. To get to your webmail account, you access the Internet using your web browser and sign in to your email account.
If you have a PC or Mac, you’ve probably used a program like Outlook, Apple Mail, or Thunderbird to manage your email. Outlook, Apple Mail, and Thunderbird are email apps: programs that you install on your computer to manage your email. They interact with an email service such as Gmail or Outlook.com to receive and send email.
You can add any email account to your email app for it to manage your email. For example, you can add webmail accounts – Gmail, Outlook.com, Hotmail.com, AOL, and Yahoo – to the Outlook or Apple Mail app to manage your email, and you can add work email accounts.