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While we are testing IMAP access to the mail archives, please capture notes about configuration (and in particular, client-specific hints) here. Try to find ways to convince the client to not download all the messages from all the lists all at once. Leave notes here about successful ways to do that.

What is below are the instructions for the TEST, if you want to use it for real, please visit:


Basic configuration

Server: test-imap.ietf.org
Port: 143

The server supports TLS (via STARTTLS on 143 - it does not support raw TLS on 993 at this time)

For authenticated access use your datatracker login and password.

For anonymous access use username="anonymous", and provide your email address as a password.


For anonymous access

Use Account Actions->Add Account.

In the email address field, add: anonymous@test-imap.ietf.org (you can't just use anonymous, as it is not a valid email address. The right hand side is the IMAP server hostname) Password: don't enter anything here yet

After Thunderbird tries autoconfiguration and fails, change SMTP to one of your existing SMTP accounts (it is not possible to post email to archive directly, so this doesn't matter).

Change the server hostname to be "test-imap.ietf.org" (it is ".test-imap.ietf.org" in the field).

Check that the Incoming username is "anonymous".

Click the Re-test button. This should correctly configure IMAP settings. Save them.

If you stop here, you will see a complaint about a missing Inbox, and when you try to subscribe to folders, you should get a list of mailboxes, but any attempt to select them will not stick.

To see the mailboxes for the lists, and to start reading messages, take these two steps:

Then go to the account settings, "Server Settings"->"Advanced..." and uncheck "Show only subscribed folders"

Next go to "Synchronization and Storage" and uncheck "Keep messages for this account on this computer". (If you don't do that, thunderbird will begin downloading a copy of every message in the archive to your cache).

Then you should be able to refresh your view and begin browsing lists.

For authenticated access

Follow the above steps, but replace anonymous with your datatracker login.

It doesn't matter what you provide for the account email address (the first step of creating the account), but if you choose something at test-imap.ietf.org, the rest of the instructions will line up.

Please DO NOT uncheck "Show only subscribed folders" - instead, go subscribe to the folders you are interested in.


authenticated access

Go to Mail -> Accounts...

At the bottom of the list on the right is "Add Other Account..."

Select "Add a Mail account" and hit "Create..."

Populate the next box with your name, a bogus email address, and a bogus password. This will cause the dialog to go into an "Account must be manually configured" mode.

In the next dialog, populate the IMAP tab with test-imap.ietf.org, your datatracker username, and optionally, your datatracker password. The following dialog will ask about some IMAP options. Leave Use SSL checked and leave Path Prefix blank. Keep Password Authentication.

If you don't have SMTP set up with some other account mail.app is using, and you want to reply to list mail, point mail.app to your SMTP server with the next dialog. the test-imap.ietf.org machine will not accept SMTP submissions. If you don't want to point to a real smtp server, enter a bogus hostname, let it complain about needing more information, and hit next to go to the advanced smtp configuration screen. Just hit create there.

Mail.app will now likely start trying to download every message from every list on the server. Please interrupt it. To do so, right-click on the "Shared Folders" line in your list of mailboxes, and select "Get Account Info". On the resulting dialog, select the "Subscription List" tab. Press the turn-down arrow on the "Shared Folders" line in the box. If there is no turn-down arrow, try looking at a different tab or two, and come back to this one. Once you can turn-down that arrow, the list of all lists you can see will appear. Deselect them all with command-a and hit Unsubscribe. Then select the individual lists you want to see (changing a checkbox takes immediate effect, you don't have to hit the buttons at the bottom).


Create a new account

It doesn't matter what you put in the top section, though getting through the subscription step below might go quicker if you use your datatracker login for the email address.

In the middle section fill in only the imap server, username and password fields. Hit the subscriptions button. If it times out, try changing what you have in the email address part of the top section of the form. Once it gives you a list of shared folders, uncheck "Ignore server subscription state for private namespaces". Then select the folders you want to see. If you skip this step, you will pull down every message from every list - please don't do that.

Leave the bottom section (SMTP) blank, or set it to some SMTP server you have credentials with (you will need to do this to reply to a message you are reading through this interface).

Pine / Alpine

Anonymous Access

Add something like this to your .pinerc:

incoming-folders="{test-imap.ietf.org/anonymous/notls}Shared Folders/stir"


incoming-folders="{test-imap.ietf.org/anonymous}Shared Folders/stir"

Authenticated Access

Add something like;

incoming-folders="{test-imap.ietf.org/user=<tracker login>}Shared Folders/stir" where you replace <tracker login> with your datatracker username.