I know that you can configure Exchange to allow connections using IMAP and POP.

But is there a way to let IMAP clients access an Exchange mail box, without changing any settings on the target Exchange server?

I'm up for any ideas, including if you can set up some kind of bridge server in the middle that loads mail as an Exchange client and sets up an IMAP-accessible server.

  • 4
    Unfortunately, this sounds like an end user question asking how to get around their IT department for IMAP access to Exchange in order to use an unsupported client on their network. Sadly, this is the wrong place to ask such questions but a simple answer for you would be to forward all your mail to gmail or something that allows IMAP but then I'm guessing you're going to get yourself into even more hot water with your IT department. Jun 4, 2009 at 17:08
  • 3
    Not quite. Without going into too much detail, the gist of it is that we access email accounts at several hundred different companies, all with their own setups. Most of the time we're able to get forwarding and/or IMAP access set up, but in some instances it is a major project to get our customer's IT to make any changes to their Exchange servers.
    – Martin M
    Jun 6, 2009 at 18:44

6 Answers 6


DavMail.SourceForge.net works for me.

  • I use DavMail myself. I haven't used the IMAP part as my exchange server supports imap already, but the calendar part works well.
    – sherbang
    Dec 11, 2009 at 2:29
  • 1
    I came back to say that DavMail works absolutely beautifully. I haven't checked back here in a while as I was a bit turned off by the dismissive answers I got from others here, but I independently found DavMail and it's been working great for our needs. As long as you have OWA access you're good to go and can use any client to work with mailboxes using standard IMAP.
    – Martin M
    Apr 29, 2010 at 20:17
  • Might be worth mentioning DavMail seems to remain active and can now be found at github at this URL: github.com/mguessan/davmail (Ha, though it says, "Main project site is still on Sourceforge at davmail.sourceforge.net." Who'd've thunk?) NOTE: Requires Java to be installed.
    – ruffin
    Feb 9 at 21:57

The only "change" to the Exchange server for IMAP would be to turn on the IMAP service (in exchange 2003) and ensure that the user is enabled for IMAP access. I think the process is very similar for 2007. Both support IMAP as an access method out of the box.

  • Yep, just remember that on Exchange 2007 the ports for IMAP are different since they are secure. "By default Exchange 2007 requires SSL/TLS secured connections, which means ensuring the client connects to the secured port. For IMAP4 that port is 993 and for POP3 it is 995."
    – Hondalex
    Jun 4, 2009 at 17:10

I suppose somebody could write a MAPI (the "native" API that Outlook "speaks" to Exchange) to IMAP gateway, but seeing as how Exchange already has one built-in, I'm not sure why you'd want to.

With Exchange 2003 you can do "Front End" Exchange Server computers that talk the IMAP protocol to clients and get mail from a "Back End" Exchange Server computer storing the mail.

With Exchange 2007 you can deploy a server with the Client Access Role to do the same thing.

Can you clarify what you're trying to do?

  • I'll be the first to say that I'm not the best Windows admin out there. I looked into using Front End servers, but it seems as if the FE server needs to belong to the same forest and Exchange org. as the BE server. I don't know if that's possible in this case. Basically, we need to retrieve email from Exchange servers that are only accessible via MAPI where we only have user access, and somehow deliver the mail to IMAP clients. Since we need to get mail from multiple servers we can't use Outlook.
    – Martin M
    Jun 6, 2009 at 18:56
  • Sounds really, really convoluted. I don't think you're going to find anything that works well w/o contracting with somebody to write custom code. Good luck. Jun 6, 2009 at 23:09

If you can only access the Exchange Server via MAPI, and I'm assuming this is the case here, you want IMAP access but aren't able to access the Exchange server via IMAP, and you can't get it turned on, then you would need something in the middle that is able to connect to the server via MAPI and then translate this into IMAP to pass on to the IMAP client.

You could perhaps use something like FetchMail to get the mail off the Exchange server and forward it to an IMAP enabled server.

Whatever you do is going to be a bit of a cludge though, your best bet is to try and convince your admins to enable IMAP.

  • Something like Fetchmail would be great, unfortunately it doesn't seem like it supports fetching mail via MAPI. I definitely agree it is a kludge, but it's worth looking into for us.
    – Martin M
    Jun 6, 2009 at 18:52

Might want to a look at OpenMAPI.org. They have the beginning of an IMAP/MAPI gateway.

  • Thanks! I don't know if it's production-ready, but I'll definitely play around with it. It seems as if there was a Google Summer of Code project to add MAPI support to Fetchmail in 2008, but it doesn't seem to have been finished: wiki.openchange.org/index.php/Fetchmail_Plugin
    – Martin M
    Jun 6, 2009 at 19:01

There is now (2022) a Thunderbird add=on called OWL that has worked for me. Free trial and then a reasonable payment per account it seems.

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