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Submitted by Richard Möhn on


I'm trying to use Apple Mail, but there appears to be no way to stop it from downloading emails from IMAP accounts. This clashes with the MT recommendations of doing email three times a day and for avoiding distractions.

When I set "Check for new messages" to "Manually", it keeps checking automatically. When I click on "Take all accounts offline", they come online again as soon as I click on an email or a mailbox. This aggravates me.

Has anyone found a way to make Apple Mail download emails only when I click on the envelope button?

Richard Möhn's picture
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Here is my solution – suited only for tech-savvy folks:

  1. Configure your email provider so that it puts new emails in the folder ‘Notes’. Apple Mail ignores this folder.
  2. Install imapfilter (using Homebrew).
  3. Create a file ~/.imapfilter/config.lua with these contents:

    _, pwfile = pipe_from('cat ~/.mailpass')
    _, _, password = string.find(pwfile, '([%w%p]+)\n')

    mail = IMAP {
    server = '<address of your email server>',
    username = '<username at your email provider>',
    password = password,
    ssl = 'auto',


  4. Create the file ~/.mailpass, make it readable only to you and save your email password in it.
  5. Create an Automator script that first runs exec /usr/local/bin/imapfilter, then triggers the fetching of email in Apple Mail.
  6. Create an entry for the Automator script in the Mail → Services menu.