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9 TCP/IP Application Layer Protocols, Services and Applications (OSI Layers 5, 6 and 7)
9 TCP/IP Key Applications and Application Protocols
9 TCP/IP File and Message Transfer Applications and Protocols (FTP, TFTP, Electronic Mail, USENET, HTTP/WWW, Gopher)
9 TCP/IP Electronic Mail System: Concepts and Protocols (RFC 822, MIME, SMTP, POP3, IMAP)
9 TCP/IP Electronic Mail Access and Retrieval Protocols and Methods
9 TCP/IP Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP/IMAP4)
IMAP Selected State: Message Manipulation Process and Commands
(Page 3 of 3)
The FETCH and STORE Commands
This command list might seem surprisingly
short; you might wonder, for example, where the specific commands are
to read a message header or body, delete a message, mark a message as
seen and so forth. The answer is that these (and much more)
are all implemented as part of the powerful and flexible FETCH
and STORE commands.
The FETCH command can be used
to read a number of specific elements from either one message or a sequence
of messages. The list of message data items specifies what
information is to be read. The data items that can be read include the
headers of the message, the message body, flags that are set for the
message, the date of the message and much more. The FETCH command
can even be used to retrieve part of a message, such as
one body part of a MIME
multipart message, making it very useful
indeed. Special macros are also defined for convenience.
For example, the client can specify the message data item FULL
to get all the data associated with a message.
The compliment to FETCH, STORE,
is used to make changes to a message. However, this command is not used
to modify the basic message information such as the content of headers
and the message body. Rather, it exists for changing the message's status
flags. For example, after replying to a particular message, the
client may set the \Answered flag for that message using
the STORE command.
Message deletion in IMAP is done
in two stages for safety, as in POP and many other protocols. The client
sets the \Deleted flag for whichever messages are to be
removed, using the STORE command. The messages are only really
deleted when the mailbox is expunged, typically when it is closed.
The search facility in IMAP4 is also
surprisingly quite sophisticated, allowing the client to look for messages
based on multiple criteria simultaneously. For example, with the appropriate
syntax, you could search for all posts that are flagged as having
been answered, that were sent by Jane Jones before April 1, 2004.
Users of IMAP clients can thus easily locate specific messages even
in very large mailboxes, without having to download hundreds of messages
to hunt through.
Key Concept: After the client opens a specific mailbox, the IMAP session enters the Selected state, where operations such as reading and copying individual e-mail messages may be performed. The two most important commands used in this state are FETCH, which can be used to retrieve a whole message, part of a message, or only certain message headers or flags; and STORE, which sets a messages status information. IMAP also includes a powerful search facility, providing users with great flexibility in finding messages in a mailbox. When the client is done working with a particular mailbox, it may choose a different one and re-enter the Selected state, close the mailbox and return to the Authenticated state, or log out, automatically entering the Logout state.
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Version 3.0 - Version Date: September 20, 2005
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