IMAP mail files

Short version: Don't change this.

You only have to go through the rest of this page if, for some reason, you don't want to keep your mail files in the default location on the mail server. I don't recommend that you do this, but here's how if you're determined.

The IMAP server program used on the Nevis mail server is dovecot. This program stores your mail as standard text files, one file per "mail folder" as seen by your mail reader; nested folders correspond to nested Linux directories.

On occasion, it can be useful to know or change where those files are located. Although your /a/mail/folders/$user/.subscriptions file provides clues to that location, ultimately it is your mail reader that tells dovecot where to look for your IMAP mail files. Each mail reader has a slightly different way to set that location.

If you follow the instructions below, and the field is blank, it means that your IMAP files are in the default location as determined by dovecot: /a/mail/folders/$user (where $user is the name of your Nevis account).

In brief, the location of your IMAP files is usually found in the "Advanced" section of the server settings in your mail program. In detail:

How to see or change the location that your mail reader searches for IMAP files


  • Select "Account Settings" from the Edit menu (on Linux) or Tools menu (on the Mac).

  • Click on "Server Settings" in the left-hand panel.

  • Click on the "Advanced" button in lower area of the right-hand panel.

  • Look in the text box labeled "IMAP server directory".

Microsoft Outlook

  • Select "Account Settings..." from the Tools menu.

  • Click on the name of the Nevis mail account in the panel.

  • Click on the word "Change..." in the toolbar just above that panel.

  • Click on the "More Settings..." button in the lower right-hand side of the dialog box.

  • Click on the "Advanced" tab near the top of the box that comes up.

  • Look in the next box near the bottom labeled "Root folder path:".

Apple Mail

  • Select "Preferences..." from the File menu.

  • Click on "Accounts" in the Toolbar at the top of the panel.

  • Click on the "Advanced" tab in the right-hand panel.

  • Look in the text box labeled "IMAP path prefix".

Nevis webmail

  • Visit the webmail page and login normally.

  • Click on the "Options" link near the top of the page.

  • Click on "Folder Preferences" link on the right-hand side of the page.

  • Look in the text box labeled "Folder path".

Note: The IMAP connection in Squirrelmail doesn't seem to be able to handle a location that begins with /. That means that any folder path typed into the text box has to be relative to the default IMAP file location, which is /a/mail/folders/$user. If your IMAP files are located outside that path, you may have to create a symbolic link in /a/mail/folders/$user to be able see them in webmail; e.g. if your account name is jsmith:

ln -sf ~/jsmithmail /a/mail/folders/jsmith/mail

... and then use mail/ as the folder path in webmail (don't forget the trailing slash).

-- WilliamSeligman - 17 Dec 2008

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Topic revision: r13 - 2013-01-15 - WilliamSeligman
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