Searching IMAP Folders - Any Way *not* to?

User Help for Mozilla Thunderbird
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Joined: May 4th, 2007, 4:09 am

Post Posted May 4th, 2007, 4:18 am

Is there any way to tell Thunderbird to behave like (many? most?) other IMAP clients and to maintain some state on its side of the connection? For example, Apple Mail, which it connects to an IMAP server, downloads a "cache" copy of all the messages locally to the client. Thunderbird only seems to cache "what it needs", unless you put it into Offline mode and specifically tell it to download all the messages for offline mode.

The problem we're encountering is that since we switched to "Thunderbird" as our default desktop IMAP client, the use of the "IMAP SEARCH" functionality has risen dramatically -- because all previous mail clients (Eudora, Outlook, Apple Mail) all -- when asked to do a search -- would search their locally downloaded/cached content.

It's actually a dramatic enough issue that I'm not sure if I can continue to support deployment of Thunderbird as the primary client.

Is there any way to configure Thunderbird so that it will always download messages to the desktop client, and that it will search *those* when it needs to do a search instead of beating on the server to do the work for it?

(Suggestions involving "upgrade your mail servers" not considered helpful, as budgets are very limited, and if I have to choose how to spend my time, it isn't going to be replacing/upgrading a mail infrastructure just to support T'Bird).

Thanks for any advice.


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Post Posted May 4th, 2007, 5:13 am

If you're storing messages in remote folders (and not using offline mode) it defaults to only downloading the headers to the local hard disk. Thunderbird also supports IMAP offline mode.

I assume the problem with using tools -> account settings -> offline & disk space -> "select folders for offline use" to automate creating a local copy of the selected folders is that you can't search those local/offline folders unless you switch to working in offline mode.

I found ... mg/263.gif which shows some Eudora download options for IMAP. Thunderbird doesn't have that type of enhancement for IMAP online mode.

You could use a message filter to automatically move new messages to a folder in the local folders directory, and use it as a replacement for the remote folder. That works well if you normally only get new messages in the inbox.

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Joined: May 4th, 2007, 4:09 am

Post Posted May 4th, 2007, 6:11 am

Yeah, but that doesn't really work well as a solution "Campus-Wide". (e.g., I can't deploy everyone's desktop like that).



Post Posted May 7th, 2007, 11:40 am

I have thunderbird setup to pull down all the messages in every folder when I go offline so I can keep (and process) a local copy of everything, but searches always take place on the server as long as your online. Searching offline is faster but due to a bug, you get back inaccurate results while searching local folders so all of my searches have to be online anyway.

It's not that hard to go offline and compact your folders before searching but until the bugs fixed, it means your stuck running all your searches online anyway.

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Post Posted May 18th, 2007, 5:04 am

dballing wrote:Yeah, but that doesn't really work well as a solution "Campus-Wide". (e.g., I can't deploy everyone's desktop like that).

It's a well known fact that TB's implementation of "offline IMAP" is very poor.
In your position, I would look elsewhere, as "offline IMAP" seems to be a very low priority item for the developers.

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