Read/sync your IMAP mailboxes [Python]
Python ApacheConf Makefile
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OfflineIMAP is a tool to simplify your e-mail reading. With OfflineIMAP, you can read the same mailbox from multiple computers. You get a current copy of your messages on each computer, and changes you make one place will be visible on all other systems. For instance, you can delete a message on your home computer, and it will appear deleted on your work computer as well. OfflineIMAP is also useful if you want to use a mail reader that does not have IMAP support, has poor IMAP support, or does not provide disconnected operation. It's homepage at contains more information, source code, and online documentation.

OfflineIMAP does not require additional python dependencies beyond python >=2.6 (although python-sqlite is strongly recommended).

OfflineIMAP is a Free Software project licensed under the GNU General Public License version 2 (or later) with a special exception that allows the OpenSSL library to be used. You can download it for free, and you can modify it. In fact, you are encouraged to contribute to OfflineIMAP.


The documentation is included (in .rst format) in the docs directory. Read it directly or generate nice html docs (python-sphinx needed) and/or the man page (python-docutils needed) while being in the docs dir via:

'make doc' (user docs), 'make man' (man page only) or 'make' (both)

(`make html` will simply create html versions of all *.rst files in /docs)

The resulting user documentation will be in docs/html. The full user docs are also at: Please see there for detailed information on how to install and configure OfflineImap.

Quick Start

First, install OfflineIMAP. See docs/INSTALL.rst or read (hint: sudo python install).

Second, set up your configuration file and run it! The distribution includes offlineimap.conf.minimal (Debian users may find this at /usr/share/doc/offlineimap/examples/offlineimap.conf.minimal) that provides you with the bare minimum of setting up OfflineIMAP. You can simply copy this file into your home directory and name it .offlineimaprc. A command such as cp offlineimap.conf.minimal ~/.offlineimaprc will do it. Or, if you prefer, you can just copy this text to ~/.offlineimaprc:

accounts = Test

[Account Test]
localrepository = Local
remoterepository = Remote

[Repository Local]
type = Maildir
localfolders = ~/Test

[Repository Remote]
type = IMAP
remotehost = examplehost
remoteuser = jgoerzen

Now, edit the ~/.offlineimaprc file with your favorite editor. All you have to do is specify a directory for your folders to be in (on the localfolders line), the host name of your IMAP server (on the remotehost line), and your login name on the remote (on the remoteuser line). That's it!

If you prefer to be compatible with the XDG Base Directory spec, then substitute the above ~/.offlineimaprc with $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/offlineimap/config and don't forget to set XDG_CONFIG_HOME properly if you want it to be different from the default $HOME/.config for any reason.

To run OfflineIMAP, you just have to say offlineimap ― it will fire up, ask you for a login password if necessary, synchronize your folders, and exit. See?

You can just throw away the rest of the finely-crafted, perfectly-honed user manual! Of course, if you want to see how you can make OfflineIMAP FIVE TIMES FASTER FOR JUST $19.95 (err, well, $0), you have to read on our full user documentation and peruse the sample offlineimap.conf (which includes all available options) for further tweaks!

Mailing list & bug reporting

The user discussion, development and all exciting stuff take place in the OfflineImap mailing list at You do not need to subscribe to send emails.

Bugs, issues and contributions should be reported to the mailing list. Bugs can also be reported in the issue tracker at

Configuration Examples

Here are some example configurations for various situations. Please e-mail any other examples you have that may be useful to me.

Multiple Accounts with Mutt

This example shows you how to set up OfflineIMAP to synchronize multiple accounts with the mutt mail reader.

Start by creating a directory to hold your folders by running mkdir ~/Mail. Then, in your ~/.offlineimaprc, specify:

accounts = Personal, Work

Make sure that you have both an [Account Personal] and an [Account Work] section. The local repository for each account must have different localfolder path names. Also, make sure to enable [mbnames].

In each local repository section, write something like this:

localfolders = ~/Mail/Personal

Finally, add these lines to your ~/.muttrc:

source ~/path-to-mbnames-muttrc-mailboxes
folder-hook Personal set from=""
folder-hook Work set from=""
set mbox_type=Maildir
set folder=$HOME/Mail

That's it!

UW-IMAPD and References

Some users with a UW-IMAPD server need to use OfflineIMAP's "reference" feature to get at their mailboxes, specifying a reference of ~/Mail or #mh/ depending on the configuration. The below configuration from (originally from shows using a reference of Mail, a nametrans that strips the leading Mail/ off incoming folder names, and a folderfilter that limits the folders synced to just three:

[Account Gerf]
localrepository = GerfLocal
remoterepository = GerfRemote

[Repository GerfLocal]
type = Maildir
localfolders = ~/Mail

[Repository GerfRemote]
type = IMAP
remotehost =
ssl = yes
remoteuser = docwhat
reference = Mail
# Trims off the preceeding Mail on all the folder names.
nametrans = lambda foldername: \
re.sub('^Mail/', '', foldername)
# Yeah, you have to mention the Mail dir, even though it
# would seem intuitive that reference would trim it.
folderfilter = lambda foldername: foldername in [
maxconnections = 1
holdconnectionopen = no

pythonfile Configuration File Option

You can have OfflineIMAP load up a Python file before evaluating the configuration file options that are Python expressions. This example is based on one supplied by Tommi Virtanen for this feature.

In ~/.offlineimaprc, he adds these options:

[Repository foo]

Then, the ~/ file will contain:

prioritized = ['INBOX', 'personal', 'announce', 'list']

def mycmp(x, y):
    for prefix in prioritized:
        xsw = x.startswith(prefix)
        ysw = y.startswith(prefix)
        if xsw and ysw:
            return cmp(x, y)
        elif xsw:
            return -1
        elif ysw:
            return +1
    return cmp(x, y)

def test_mycmp():
    import os, os.path
    print folders

This code snippet illustrates how the foldersort option can be customized with a Python function from the pythonfile to always synchronize certain folders first.