Gmail gets IMAP: Not quite worldwide?

After years of using Gmail my one wish has come true; IMAP mailbox access.I never quite understood why Google decided to give POP3 access to their mailboxes but held back on IMAP. Maybe it was because the labeling system proved difficult to translate in to folders? A more sceptical view would be that by encouraging use of the Web client Google make more revenue-you don't find many Google ads displayed in Outlook!

Imagine my delight when I found out today that Gmail has enabled IMAP access! I randomly stumbled across a 12-day old post on digg entitled ‘Gmail gets IMAP'. At first I thought this was a hoax; I couldn't see any sign of an IMAP option in my account settings and the support section didn't mention IMAP at all. After a little bit of tinkering, I changed my language option from English (UK) to English (US). To my surprise, IMAP was added to the ‘Forwarding and POP' tab! I followed the setup guide and had Outlook connected in no time; it may be helpful for me to note that Google's instructions fail to mention outgoing authentication is required.

Once Outlook was up and running, I went back into my account settings via the Web interface and changed my language back to English (UK). IMAP options immediately disappeared from the settings menu, and I'm sad to report that IMAP access had been cut off-for the time being. I'll have to pretend I'm American! Read status is consistent across both the Web and IMAP clients, starred items show up as flagged when viewed in Outlook, and labeled mail can be viewed via filtered folders.

Overall it's a thumbs up for the Gmail team. Good job.