Since becoming a Blackberry last August, I’ve let my computer inbox overwhelm me. The biggest problem with BIS email on the Blackberry (or so I thought at the time), was that there were no folders for sorting. Your options were three-fold:

  1. keep in the inbox
  2. delete the sucker
  3. save it in the saved folder

Once I got used to reading the message and ignoring it, I missed my folders less and less. Problem is, I did need to keep project emails on my computer for reference, email addresses not in my address book, etc.

They need sorting, or tagging, or something! Badly.

But, trouble was, I had already read them once, and since the BB and my computer were both POP (aka dumb) mail, they had no way of knowing what the other was doing.

Flash forward almost a year, and there are over 1000 unread email in my computer. But I’ve read them, I tell myself… quickly on my BB.

I recently bought a new computer, and rather than move my overwhelming pile of ca-ca email over to the new machine, I wanted a better solution.

Step 1: Migrate to GMail

My web host (Netfirms) has blithely promised IMAP email for over a year, and recently showed up on a blacklist for a few of my clients mail servers, so the deal was done: it was time to move.

I set up a Google Apps account, authorized my domain with them, and then pointed my MX records over to the GMail sever. And waited. And hoped. And… success! Mail started appearing the next morning.

Step 2: Enable IMAP

IMAP is a 2-way mail checking protocol, meaning that any changes you make at one end (i.e. your computer) will be reflected at the other (i.e. your web-based email client). This means a message read on any IMAP aware device will be marked as read everywhere else.

In the past, I’d checked GMail through my blackberry using IMAP, and it was slow for mail to arrive. It did manage to sync read messages and deleted messages, but that was it.

In getting ready for the newly transferred account,  found this message from Google.

It says that IMAP access through Blackberry is still not supported. So I went over to Bell’s Blackbery portal and updated the account on my Blackberry automatically (no options, just email and password). I’d assumed that it would be the usual POP-style mail without syncronizing, but faster than the other way.

Surprise, I was wrong. A message deleted on my BB ended up in the Trash on my Gmail web account. Then I found this message from RIM (the Blackberry folks) saying that as of May 6, 2009, the default sync to Gmail was IMAP, and that it is as fast as POP had been previously.

Accessing the Gmail webmail account using IMAP provides the following new benefits to BlackBerry Internet Service subscribers:

* Elimination of sent email messages appearing as received email messages in the message list on the BlackBerry smartphone. For more information, see KB10332.
* One-way synchronization, from the BlackBerry smartphone to the Gmail webmail account, of read and unread status, sent items, and deleted items

The catch?

Users of the old IMAP need to delete and re-integrate their accounts with Blackberry.

So IMAP didn’t actually need to be enabled on Gmail for my Blackberry, but for my MacBook, it did.

To enable IMAP email on the Google platform (apps or Gmail):

  1. Settings -> Forwarding and POP/IMAP -> Enable IMAP
  2. click the Configuration instructions for tips to configure Apple to play nice with Gmail.
  3. don’t forget to configure Trash, Junk and Draft behaviour as well – this ensures Gmail will integrate correctly with


Although this will not staunch the flow of email puking out of your computer/Blackberry/web browser, it will ensure that you could possibly get away with only touching each email once, and not sorting piles separately in each location. Now if only I could get folders in my BB inbox… well, there’s always the Gmail Blackberry app to go digging through my folders/tags.