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Thunderbird: change IMAP account to POP3

I have a webmail account on one of my domains and I sync the mail via IMAP on two PC’s. But now I’m reaching the maximum quota of the webmail account, and I decided to read the mail using POP3 and syncing it using Dropbox on the two computers (this will be the subject of another post).

You cannot change an IMAP account to POP3 in Thunderbird, you have to create a new account with the same credentials and POP3 configuration, and then download all the messages from the server again.

Hands on.

First of all, disable the IMAP account on Thunderbird to prevent from downloading new emails. Ensure you only have one Thunderbird running in all of your PC’s.

To do this, go to Edit -> Account settings -> Server Settings and disable this options:

  • Check for new mesages at startup
  • Check for new messages every nn minutes
  • To avoid accidentally sending or receiving automatically new mails, change the Server Name to a non existing one (for instance, add a number at the end of the server name)

Now, create another account with POP3 configuration.

Once created, go to that account and click on “Read messages” or “Get messages”. All the mails will be downloaded from the server and deleted, so you will have more space to receive new mails.

Now send a message to yourself to create the “Sent” folder, and then move/copy all the Sent messages from the IMAP account to the POP3 account.

Your messages are still not deleted from the server automatically. You have to change your preferences in Edit -> Account settings -> Server settings. Uncheck “Leave messages on server” or change the days of retention to suit yourself.


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