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I've been using to read my email since 1992 or so, back when it was called NeXTmail. I'm generally pleased with it. Lately, though, I've been having a problem with the IMAP implementation, and specifically with Dreamhost. The problem that I'm having is that sometimes doesn't notice when new mail is added to a mailbox, and the only thing I can do is "rebuild" the mailbox. This is a problem. Why does it happen? Is there an email provider that doesn't have these problems?

Well, gmail doesn't have the problem, but it has bother problems.

So I would like to understand why this is happening and what I can do about it. Is there an IMAP server that's better than Courier (which is what Dreamhost is using)? Thanks

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Specifically for Courier, try setting the IMAP prefix to INBOX in the account settings. You might also want to specify what problems Gmail has for you. – Gerry May 28 '12 at 20:36

You might want to avoid things like Notes, Calendars & Reminders as these try to create folders on you IMAP server and put data from your and in those folders that the IMAP server may not like. At least from Lion up, when you setup email from the System Preferences, it tries to create these other services on the IMAP server.

Note that IMAP is a standard which means every one that makes an IMAP server might have a different "standard"; remember "The nice thing about standards is that you have so many to choose from." --Andy Tanenbaum

Regarding GMail, personally I have a GMail account as my Apple ID and added iCloud email under that account. So when I set up my iCloud service it only sets up everything on iCloud. Then I setup GMail using the System Preferences, but turn off Notes (keeping Calendar & Reminders). If you leave Notes checked, it puts a "[IMAP]/Notes" LABEL in your GMail.

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Note that IMAP might be a standard but GMail "IMAP" does not follow the standard – Mark Dec 5 '12 at 12:25

Is there an IMAP server that's better than Courier (which is what Dreamhost is using)?

When I used to run my own mail server, I was much happier when I migrated from qmail + Courier to Postfix + Dovecot.

However, I eventually migrated to Google Apps, and I've never looked back. I know you say that Gmail has "other problems", but for me, I found that the benefits far outweighed any quirks/drawbacks. Mail clients of all sorts tend to have pretty good support for it because so many users (and developers!) have Gmail accounts.

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