SMTP, IMAP or POP3? - What are the differences and how to properly set up an email account on your smartphone, iPhone or PC

Email applications are used on a very large scale on Windows PC, Android smartphones, iPhone si macOS. Almost all mobile and PC operating systems come with a pre-installed email client. For Windows 10 we have the customer Windows Mail (with Outlook optional), on macOS is the customer Mail al Apple, Android comes with a Mail application in which they can connect both Gmail accounts and also third party accounts of other providers, and so on.

Before we begin to set up an email account on your smartphone, iPhone or on a PC email client (e.g. Outlook, Thunderbird, Windows Mai, Apple Mail, etc.), in addition to the connection data: User name, password, server incoming, server outgoing, type of security, we still need to understand a few terms. SMTP, IMAP si POP3.

What does SMTP mean?

You noticed that in the steps of adding email account in an application, at message server you are required to enter "SMTP server". This is the address message sending server. Outgoing.
SMTP comes from Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, and as the name suggests, it is standard protocol for sending e-mail messages. Without SMTP you can't send, redirect or retransmit messages from a client / e-mail application (Outlook) to a recipient e-mail server.
So, if you start setting up an email account on Outlook, Thunderbird, Android or iOS, when you see "SMTP", To know that it is only about send messages by e-mail. This protocol is not related to IMAP or POP3, even though most systems use the same authentication data for both SMTP and IMAP or POP3. User password.

What does IMAP mean?

If SMTP is about sending emails, when we talk about IMAP we are thinking of receiving / receiving messages on / from an email server.
IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) is the protocol that deals with receiving and managing messages received from the host server on which they were received. You will never be able to send e-mail messages through an IMAP server.
The biggest perplexity of many is that the reception server does not know what to choose between IMAP and POP3.

What does POP3 mean and what is the difference between IMAP and POP3?

Like IMAP, the protocol POP3 strictly handles the reception and management of messages received on the e-mail server.
The term "POP3" comes from Post Office Protocol, version 3, and the difference from IMAP is the management of received messages. POP3 stores received emails on the application / email client on your PC or smartphone, then deletes them from the host server, these remaining stored locally.
Compared to POP3, IMAP stores messages on the host server and he can sync across multiple devices (PC, laptop, smartphone, iPhone), without storing them locally, unless the email client uses an extension that allows this.

So, SMTP is the "common denominator" when it comes to the proper functioning of an e-mail account, which wants to send and receive messages. IMAP or POP3 are at the choice of each user, depending on needs. If you want to add your email account on Mac, iPhone and iPad, then you will definitely use IMAP so that the received messages are available on all 3 devices. A message read on one of the devices will be marked as "read" on the others. The same will happen with deleted messages, flagged or blocked.

If you use a business email address on your laptop or service PC, then POP3 may be the solution. The messages will be downloaded and stored only on one device and will be automatically deleted from the e-mail server, they can be accessed from elsewhere.

Passionate about technology, I like to test and write tutorials about operating systems macOS, Linux, Windows, about WordPress, WooCommerce and LEMP web server configuration (Linux, NGINX, MySQL and PHP). I write on since 2006, and a few years later I started writing on iHowTo.Tips tutorials and news about devices in the ecosystem Apple: iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, HomePod, iMac, MacBook, AirPods and accessories.

Leave a Comment