Email Syncing

I put a call out on Facebook and Twitter to send me your tech problems.  I have put the call out there before, but I finally figured out how to word it to actually get a response!  What I said was, “Do you have something technical on your to do list that you’d love a tutorial on?”  My problem sometimes is that I know how to do a lot of technical things.  Sometimes it’s hard for me to understand that people don’t know how to do the things I already know how to do.  I’ve had a real problem trying to figure out what exactly it is that my audience doesn’t know.  It’s just like it’s hard for my Sister to grasp that I can’t just put ingredients together and have a recipe come out right.  I need specific instructions and precise measurements!

So one of my first questions came from Greg who said his wife checks her email in 3 places 1) on her iPhone4, 2) on her laptop using Microsoft Live Mail, and 3) on the Comcast website.  His question is how to keep them all in sync so if a message is deleted in one place it gets deleted everywhere.

Thanks Greg!  This is an easy one!  There are a few different types of “protocols” to retrieve your messages from a mail server.  First up is IMAP, which is going to be the method you will want to use when you set up your email on the various devices.  IMAP stands for Internet Message Access Protocol.  The key word here is ACCESS.  This means you can access your messages from anywhere, but you aren’t downloading the messages.  IMAP will help you keep all of your messages in sync in each location.  Delete a message from your phone?  It will get deleted from your web access, and the Windows Live Mail!

Another method to access your email is POP which stands for Post Office Protocol.  Imagine a post offices where the mail is physically delivered to the mailbox.  You can set it to leave the messages on the server, but if you use POP in Windows Live Mail, or any other device, it will deliver a copy of the message to the mailbox, but also leave it on the server.  So when you deleted it from the Windows Live Mail, it does not delete it from your phone or from your web access.

If you work for a company, you may also have an Exchange Server.  This is really the best of them all, since you just access the same mailbox/calendar/contacts etc from your phone, the internet, and Outlook.  Most individuals do not have an Exchange Server though.

So if you are unsure which protocol each system is using, go into your account settings and see.  From your question I’d venture to say one of them (phone or windows live) is using POP.  If you can, try and change it to IMAP, if you can’t, you can remove the account and re-add it as IMAP.  Be careful though, with a POP account you will want to backup your messages before you delete the account.

This is how I’m set up though…

On my phone I use IMAP, so I can see all my messages when I’m away and respond to anything that is urgent.  On my laptop I use POP, because I don’t need to keep all my messages on the web server.  My phone stays clean because as soon as the messages get downloaded to my computer they are removed from my phone.  The only downfall to this is I can no longer access the message from my phone, once it’s downloaded to my computer.  For me that’s OK because I do my real work on my laptop, but only respond to urgent requests on my phone.

I hope that helps you out Greg!  If YOU have something technical that has been sitting on your to do list that you don’t have time to figure out, just hit me up on twitter (@tech4Moms), on Facebook (Technology for Mommies) or on email sarah @ tech4moms . com!

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About the author

Sarah Werle Kimmel

Sarah Werle Kimmel is a digital parenting coach and family tech expert. She has spent the last 20 years of her career working as a Microsoft Certified IT Manager supporting over 100 small businesses. During that time she started Family Tech LLC to help families understand and manage the technology in their home. She has regularly appeared as a family tech expert on local NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX news affiliates, BYUtv and Studio 5, and has been invited all over the world from tech companies like Lenovo, Verizon, Microsoft, Dell, and Samsung. Find out more on her website

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