Survey: Why are you using POP3 with K-9 Mail?

Hello K-9 Mail users :wave:

Many providers offer access to emails via IMAP and POP3. A lot of you seem to have set up accounts in K-9 Mail to use POP3. Why are you using POP3 and not IMAP?

I’m planning to write a post on why one shouldn’t be using POP3 with K-9 Mail. In all scenarios I can imagine, IMAP (or using another app) is the better option. But maybe I’m missing something. Please let me know why you believe using POP3 is the better option.

Please note that this is strictly about K-9 Mail. You might have good reasons to use POP3 with other clients. But please focus your answers on your POP3 usage with K-9 Mail.


Not knowing that imap is better could be a reason. The account setup screen displays the two buttons directly next to each other. Maybe a few words of text could help:

Support for synchronizing mail state with other devices, showing folders, and optional support for push notifications:

Not recommended:


I use POP3 with K-9 Mail simply out of habit. That is what I am used to, and I don’t really know much about IMAP or how it works. (I use K-9 as an Android app on a Chromebook, not an Android phone.)


For me its easier to setup, manage and provide support to other people in my organization. Only my perception mind you, Ive always thought of IMAP for power users and POP + leave email on server more idiot proof.

When it comes to syncing a single inbox folder, with a few basic options, its just easier. My primary purpose for K9 + Pop is to get notifications that an email has arrived and it needs to be dealt with from a PC or a phone call. Rarely is there a need to reply, archive, move to folder etc. Folder classes are also not needed and not understood I admit.

People stick with what they know and feel comfortable with. I think thats the real answer to the question.

I look forward to the article. I also hope that K9 continues to support pop accounts, even if only at the basic level.

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Could you explain that a bit more, please? IMAP can also be used with just one inbox folder. The amount of settings you have is usually the same between IMAP and POP3 (server, username, password). Why is it easier?

Beyond the user name, password etc. The app itself has quite a number of settings and options in relation to an IMAP account.

If I recall right there were three different settings related to getting a notification to display. Maybe I didnt need all those settings (notifications on, notify for folder inbox, push the notification) but this is an example.

Folder classes. I know there is a purpose for them. But I know I dont need them and to keep other people from playing with all these things is impossible. I guess its human nature.

Just to be clear on this point, I am not saying options & settings should be removed from IMAP. Just saying there are fewer with POP and would prefer the more simple method of getting that message without the fluff after the fact.

Let POP be as simple and straight forward as possible and put all the goodies into IMAP for more experienced users. Of course that is only one persons opinion.

K9 is an excellent product. Best Ive tried. It deserves to be kept whole and as is.


I use Outlook desktop as my main email interface. Throughout the day I may check email on my cellphone or from a web interface. I want to be able to delete (or do anything else) to emails I have read on my cellphone without having ANY effect on their retrieval to my Outlook when I return to my desk.


I’d say it’s not about wich one who’s better. it’s more about what they do - in the end, what you want to do.

For me it’s kind of simple. I mainly use POP, on most accounts. Having quite a few accounts, and I also prefer my desktop. With K-9 (ie. in my phone)… I usually have a 2-3 accounts set up, where 2 are IMAPs, and one is POP. The POP one being a phone-only-account, while the others are (for example) my personal and my work-related email. And the 2 IMAPs are setup as POP on my computer (best of both world :slight_smile: ).

So, for me it’s not about which one’s better than the other - it’s more about: Where do you want (to store) your emails? And, I want my emails locally.To have my private email setup as an IMAP account in the phone, makes it possible to respond to an incoming email when I’m not at home. Once I’m back - I can check my emails as normal, and get them where I want them.

Looking fwd to read your post later.

Sidenote: Both IMAP(S) and POP(S) are today really old protocols. They both use the same level of security. Neither are better/worse than the other. The main difference is just what they do - how they act. One is downloading the emails, and the other one store the emails online. That’s a userland decision, which one is “the best way”. It’s a personal choice, and cannot be applied in general. It’s based on “need” and/or “by choice”.

There are pro’s and con’s with both. We should be thankful we have 2 to chose from, instead of trying to rule one out /2c


Does this mean that you configured it to delete emails from the server whenever they are fetched by K-9?

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Yes, I have that on all my POP accounts. For other accounts it might be useful maybe to leave them on the server, if you need them while away (eg. webmail, phone, etc). But, I’d prob consider IMAP then.

Occationally I use the webmail, but not very often. When I do, it’s mostly to be able to send something - or if someone tellls me to read a mail they sent and I’m not at home or have the phone around. As long as I haven’t checked the emails from home (computer) or with the POP on the phone, they’re on the webmail. :+1: That works for me.

So your emails are only stored on the phone. What happens when you switch to a new phone or when it gets stolen/lost?

Thanks! For me, and that particular account… It’s not my main account. But, I get the point/scenario.

I do (and keep) backups regularly, using Titanium Backup. K-9 doesn’t export emails, right? just settings. I think they’re included in “data” in a TB backup. If not, I guess I’ll have to back them up manually when switching to a new phone (thanks for the heads up). The phone has started to show signs of age, so I guess it’s about to happen soon. At least I’ve started to look at a tablet, with phone functionality in it. ˆ_ˆ

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Yeah, right. K-9 does not have an email export feature.

I think so, too. Haven’t used TB in a while, though.

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It’s not the right mindset to try to persuade people to stop using POP3. Many of us want to use it. Almost every other email program uses it. Stop condescending. Stop trying to persuade other people to do email the way you want to, especially if you want us to pay you for your efforts.

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This is a SURVEY asking users to explain their reasoning behind the use of POP. Nobody is condescending or trying to persuade others to do anything.

As someone that only switched from POP to IMAP maybe 2 years ago I do understand wanting to keep doing what you’re used to. But personally I see no upside in using POP any more.

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Scroll up and read the initial post by @cketti - the intention is quite clear. “I’m planning to write a post on why one shouldn’t be using POP3 with K-9 Mail.”

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@twsf in all honesty you should have made the quote longer. @cketti wrote:

… which is not condescending at all.


Contrary to you I read his WHOLE post and like @martinleben said - I see absolutely nothing condescending in it :roll_eyes:

I don’t use POP3 with K-9 Mail, but it’s an important option to have. When I had an email account with Verizon, they didn’t offer POP3, presumably on the theory that it would induce customers to remove old mail from the servers. This was made tolerable in a multi-device scenario because my email clients allowed me to leave the messages on the server. I would choose one installation on my main desktop to download and remove all of the email messages, and the other clients deleted their copies when the messages no longer showed up on the server.

Since my wife routinely keeps over 1000 messages on our limited-space hosting account, I see some wisdom in Verizon’s POP-only policy, but I cannot impose it myself because I like sleeping indoors.


My story:
For many years I happily used pop3 with K-9 mail on my phone only. Yes, thats usually means only copy of mail was on phone. Not ideal.

Now, when google will soon effectively dont offer free mails with custom domains I started to look for options (and found them).
But to move to my new email provider I wanted to backup my mails and I could not fully do it, becouse mostly they are on my pop3 acc in phone with k-9 mail. And k-9 mail does not offer backup option (serious drawback I would say… how hard it would be to allow create .mbox file for everything?). Sure I can re-send them to myself but thats hassle.

Anyway, after thinking how to do it better in future I ended up with this strategy:
My main email checking/replying/deleting option on phone will be IMAP, but also same mail accounts will be set on phone as POP3 (with manual push + leave on server option) + also POP3 (with leave on server) on 1-2 desktop machines on same accounts.

So I will use IMAP for checking e-mail, replying, deleting un-needed and POP3 just as backup (local storage).

When my email box will be near full I will delete e-mail from server using webmail or IMAP. Sure I can pay more (or find free options) to never run out of space, but thats not really neccesarily I think.