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IMAP Phantom Folders - Can I get Rid of Them?

steveal
Dabbler
Posts: 15
Registered: 08-08-2015

IMAP Phantom Folders - Can I get Rid of Them?

I have a problem with duplicate folders showing up in my email clients as follows:

Deleted and Deleted Items (empty)

Sent and Sent Items (empty)

Junk and Junk E-mail (both empty at the moment)

 

These duplicates appear across all platforms (Webmail, Thunderbird, eM Client).

I can delete the duplicate folders in Webmail (or one of my email clients) and they are for a while deleted across all programs.

Half an hour later, they are back across all programs.

 

Does anyone know how to find the source of these duplicates? The Plusnet Basic Webmail page shows me they are 'Unsubscribed Folders"

INBOX.Deleted Items

INBOX.Sent Items

INBOX.Junk E-mail

 

Any help much appreciated.

 

 

7 REPLIES
Superuser
Superuser
Posts: 12,621
Thanks: 3,889
Fixes: 25
Registered: 22-08-2007

Re: IMAP Phantom Folders - Can I get Rid of Them?

Hi Steve,

Yes this is a tricky issue, which arises from the differing default naming conventions for the "system" folders in different email applications.  The first step in sorting this is to list all of the email clients you use.  IIRC the Win10 built-in "Outlook" email program (there are a lot of different 'Outlook' versions) is very fixed over how it names the "system" folders.

The reason that you get the "phantom" folders returning is that one of your email clients is referring to the "Sent Items" rather than "Sent" folder.

You need to look at the IMAP settings (mapping) for the 'conceptual' SENT / DELETED / DRAFT / JUNK folders on to the actual IMAP server folders.

Hope this makes some sense?

steveal
Dabbler
Posts: 15
Registered: 08-08-2015

Re: IMAP Phantom Folders - Can I get Rid of Them?

Townman,

 

Thanks for the reply.

So, it seems the 'additional' folders are coming from some of my other email client programs?

If I close down all email from my phone and from my laptop, I can then sort things out on my PC and get rid of the additional folders.

Does that make sense?

 

I'll try it and report back.

 

Steve

steveal
Dabbler
Posts: 15
Registered: 08-08-2015

Re: IMAP Phantom Folders - Can I get Rid of Them?

So I deleted my IMAP account from my phone and from my laptop.

Now the only device with my IMAP account is my PC, currently using eM Client for email.

 

Then, using Basic Webmail, I subscribed to and then deleted two of the phantom folders - Deleted Items and Sent Items and finally deleted them from the Trash folder also.

Synced my PC and all are gone. The folders do not exist on Webmail or eM Client.

 

10 minutes later and they are back on Webmail. Sync my PC and they are back in eM Client...

I may now delete the IMAP account from eM Client, and try to tackle the problem using only Thunderbird.

 

 

Maybe the problem is the number of email clients lying around my PC (all closed, by the way, other than eM Client):

eM Client

Windows Live Mail

Thunderbird

Outlook

 

Anyone have other thoughts?

Superuser
Superuser
Posts: 12,621
Thanks: 3,889
Fixes: 25
Registered: 22-08-2007

Re: IMAP Phantom Folders - Can I get Rid of Them?

Which version of Outlook?

Win 10 built-in mail 'Outlook' makes its own mind up what the folders are called.  Proper Outlook (pre 2016) allows you to decide how to map SENT and DELETED to the server.  Matters can be complicated, as (presently) the default folders are not created on the Plusnet Email server when email accounts are set up via the user portal, as has been demonstrated by people attempting to connect iPhones to a virgin email box - there is no "SENT" folder.

I have just created a number of brand new email boxes and linked the different email applications I have access to them, in order to find out what each application's default (preference) is for naming the folders.  Note: 'inbox' is provided by default, so I do not list it below.

Win10 mail: deleted items* / drafts** / sent items

Outlook 2016: Does not create any folders on the server ... which means that attempting to delete the test email throws up an error!!  Sending is even worse...

Task 'test.outlook2016@******.me.uk - Sending' reported error (0x80040119) : 'The message cannot be saved to your IMAP email account Sent Items folder, because Outlook is offline or the email server doesn’t allow items to be saved to the Sent Items folder.'

Note the implication that sent mail is placed in "Sent Items" (which does not exist).  However the email is actually sent, it is the saving of it to the sent items folder which fails.

Webmail: Drafts / Sent / Spam / Trash

Pointing Outlook2016 to the webmail mail box is very tidy; it finds the Sent and Trash folders and uses them as "Sent Items" and "Deleted Items" with no messing or renaming.

Pointing Win10 mail to the webmail mail box creates a right mess; it creates "Sent Items" and "Deleted Items" in the root folder completely ignoring the "Sent " and "Trash" folders in the inbox folder.

*  The deleted items folders is not created until an item is deleted

** This drafts folder is NOT MAPPED to the IMAP server - this 'feature' along with the applications insistence of adding "items" to the system folder names makes it rather irritating to the point that I do not use Win10 mail at all.

 

For me Webmail's creation of default system folders is perfect - concise names and includes a place to deposit SPAM.  Applications insist on the use of "Sent Items" and "Deleted Items" such as Win10 mail are a real pain.  If you must use such an application which gives no freedom to specify those folder names, you might be stuck having to alter the folder mapping in those applications which facilitate the means of doing so, including webmail, to use untidy / undesirable names for the core folders.

I recommend that you review the folder settings in all of the applications you want to use.  Determine how to map the system folders to the IMAP server (if able).  If any application presents constraints, find out what are the default (constrained) names and opt for those across all email applications, having used Webmail to map the system folders to those names and move all emails in to the chosen folder.

In the meantime now I have checked this bugbear out (has been irritating me for a while) I think I will now go and tidy up all of my mail accounts!

 

 

steveal
Dabbler
Posts: 15
Registered: 08-08-2015

Re: IMAP Phantom Folders - Can I get Rid of Them?

Townman,

 

Great post. If I could agree with only one thing it would be that Windows 10 Mail is a villain...

 

I have now deleted all my email client programs: 

- Windows Live Essentials

- eM Client

- Mozilla Thunderbird

 

This leaves just Outlook (2016) which hasn't been started at all.

 

I figure I can now configure Webmail 'correctly' and then re-load a chosen email client to synchronise with Webmail.

 

Which email client to choose?

 

 

Superuser
Superuser
Posts: 12,621
Thanks: 3,889
Fixes: 25
Registered: 22-08-2007

Re: IMAP Phantom Folders - Can I get Rid of Them?

From the testing I did, a new emailbox accessed first by webmail and then Outlook 2016 is very clean.  Accessing then via an iDevice is also clean.

I cannot speak for the rest.

If the email boxes already exist and are a mess, tidy them up with WEBMAIL, the introduce your preferred clients but avoid Win10 Mail if you can.

steveal
Dabbler
Posts: 15
Registered: 08-08-2015

Re: IMAP Phantom Folders - Can I get Rid of Them?

I'll give it a try!