I need to give a solution for a situation where sys admins have not enabled POP,IMAP access of mail server only web based access is allowed.At the same time some people would like for them to be able to use some thing at their (client machines) an email client like Outlook,Thunderbird.

I remember one of our sys admins had installed on such software at client machines after which users were able to do so.Can any one help me to recall it.We need it for both Linux and Windows client machines.

The server used is Zimbra free version and only web based email access via browser is allowed.

  • 2
    You could install an SSH client on each user's computer, and have them ssh into the mailserver and run mutt. I'm sure that'll go over well.
    – EEAA
    Jul 15, 2011 at 14:28
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    @Chris there is no such policy there are no sys admins to be straight I do not want to name the organization it is an educational institute and they do not have any one who can handle so they simply disabled it.They need to contact recruiters to come to their campus and the guys who have to contact companies and people badly need it.Shame on people who rather than suggesting any thing constructive downvote the question.It is very easy to watch a soccer match and criticise players from outside rather than self being part of team.It is a stupid engough place and every one is not so knoweldgeable Jul 15, 2011 at 18:29
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    It probably got downvoted because the correct answer is so obvious the question shouldn't need to be asked: enable POP/IMAP.
    – womble
    Jul 16, 2011 at 12:22
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    Because your environment is idiotic. The right answer is to FIX THE FREAKING PROBLEM, not bandaid it into submission.
    – womble
    Jul 16, 2011 at 12:32
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    Here, let me make it simple. Your problem is: "We want to use IMAP but don't want to use IMAP." I don't think anything else really needs to be said.
    – MikeyB
    Aug 14, 2011 at 2:27

3 Answers 3


The Technical Answer:

Zimbra has a desktop application that, I believe, uses SOAP to connect to the server and retrieve message and other data without POP3 or IMAP. Darn it all, I can't seem to track down hard documentation on that though. Nonetheless, check out Zimbra Desktop.

The Softskills Answer:

This is not in direct answer to your technical question, but is added for you and anyone else reading this in the future to consider the larger picture.

It sounds like you are either not part of IT or you are not in direct contact with the system administrators. It certainly appears that what you're doing is either against IT policy or at the very least not being done with their approval. If that's not the way the situation is, then perhaps it's a language / thought barrier between us.

Consider a few simple ideas:

IT personnel should be asked for help first. Not because you are incapable of finding a solution on your own, but because they are the stewards of the systems and will likely know the ins and outs of properly setting up services and applications. Building bridges with IT people is usually a good thing, no matter how surly and unreasonable they are. If they see what you need, they can (or at least should) properly address the situation.

IT rules are not challenges. As such, you shouldn't seek to subvert them. Not because IT is in its ivory tower and shall not ever be questioned. Rather, because this is a personnel issue that should be handled by managers. Solving personnel issues with technology is like bailing water on the sea floor. Seeking to find a technical way around the rules will start an arms race between people and departments. Talk to your manager to get things changed.


Well, if you were on Exchange/Outlook, you'd be using MAPI by default, in which case you would not be dependent on POP3 or IMAP. Is that what you were referring to?

If you're using one of the standard Linux mail programs (postfix, dovecot, qmail, cyrus, etc), then you have no choice but to use IMAP or POP3. If you are certain you don't want to enable those, then your only choice will be to provide some sort of webmail access to users' mailboxes.

  • the main server has Zmbra free version and the admins do not want to enable IMAP or POP3.But the users would like to use Outlook or thunderbird at their ends. Jul 15, 2011 at 15:26
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    Again, your only realistic choices are POP3, IMAP, or webmail. If you are not an "admin", why are you even asking this question?
    – EEAA
    Jul 15, 2011 at 15:29
  • I have to give them a solution.The admins themselves have asked me some of their users need such an access. Jul 15, 2011 at 15:31
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    Well if none of the options I gave are acceptable to you, then I guess you're out of luck. As Sunny asked, though, I'd love to understand the "Why?" behind your aversion to POP3 and/or IMAP.
    – EEAA
    Jul 15, 2011 at 15:38
  • well I myself was the part of organization now handling these kind of request for some one else. I do not have any idea why they have not allowed it.The best I personally feel is to give POP3 or IMAP but for some stupid and untold reason they never enabled it.How ever some people genuinely need it I have seen this problem and it is those users only who approached me to find a solution for the same.That is why I asked. Jul 15, 2011 at 17:44

It depends on the mail server. If it's exchange, and you enable Outlook web access, then DavMail can sit on the client machine, and act as a IMAP/POP3 proxy.

If this is some standard *nix mail server, then eventually some script on the server side can get all the user's mailboxes and rsync them to user machines. Thunderbird should be able to read standard mailbox format.

Speaking about DavMail, as it's opensource project, maybe the code can be modified to use/scrape another webmail interface as well.

In any case, your requirements need some more explanation before some real solution can be suggested.

  • 1
    I thought about the rsync option as well, but then dismissed it as "cripes, that's ridiculous". :)
    – EEAA
    Jul 15, 2011 at 14:24
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    @ErikA: it is, but with these requirements there are too many options :)
    – Sunny
    Jul 15, 2011 at 14:31
  • @Erika the main server has Zimbra free version and the admins do not want to enable IMAP or POP3.But the users would like to use Outlook or thunderbird at their ends. Jul 15, 2011 at 15:26
  • @RegisteredUser: pls update your original question with all the additional information you add. Are you saying that the admins allow only web access, and/or zimbra desktop client?
    – Sunny
    Jul 15, 2011 at 15:42
  • @Sunny only web based access not Zimbra desktop client.I am updating the question. Jul 15, 2011 at 17:46

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