SMTP or IMAP What’s the Difference? – SocketLabs

smtp or imap

Today you will learn exactly whether you should use SMTP or IMAP. In fact, there is a big difference between the two protocols. In this article, we will help you understand the differences between SMTP and IMAP. We will also briefly address POP3.


What is SMTP? What is IMAP? What is an example of SMTP and IMAP

    working together?

  • What is POP3
  • ?

  • How to send outgoing email with
  • SMTP

  • What
  • is the difference between IMAP and

  • SMTP
  • ? IMAP


for email recovery

and SMTP is for sending emails. That means IMAP communicates with both the client and server to receive emails, and SMTP only communicates with the servers to send emails.

What is SMTP?

SMTP stands for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol and is the industry standard protocol for sending email.

With SMTP, you are sending, relaying, or forwarding messages from a mail client (such as Microsoft Outlook) to a receiving e-mail server. A sender will use an SMTP server to carry out the process of transmitting an e-mail message.

The key thing to keep in mind when thinking about whether to use SMTP or IMAP is that SMTP is all about sending email. So, if you’re looking to enable email sending within your app, then you’ll want to go ahead with using SMTP over IMAP.

What is IMAP?

If SMTP is about sending, then: What is IMAP?

Simply put, IMAP (Internet Access Message Protocol) is an email protocol that deals with managing and retrieving email messages from the receiving server.

Because IMAP

handles message retrieval, you will not be able to use the IMAP protocol to send email. Instead, IMAP will be used to receive messages.

Example of SMTP and IMAP working together Whether you’re sending a

transactional email like a password reset or you’re getting a paycheck notification, chances are you’re using SMTP and IMAP. Here’s

how SMTP and IMAP work together to transmit an email message

:how SMTP and IMAP work together

  1. After you create an email and press ‘send’, your email client (e.g. Gmail, Thunderbird, Outlook, etc.) will use SMTP to send your message from your email client to an email server.
  2. The email server will then use SMTP to relay the message to the

  3. recipient’s receiving email server
  4. .

  5. Upon successful receipt of the SMTP transmission (indicated by a 250 OK response code), the recipient’s email client will fetch the message using IMAP and place it in the inbox for the recipient to access.

What is POP3? In addition to IMAP,

there is also another protocol for receiving email: it is called

POP3. POP stands for

Post Office Protocol.

And the number three stands for “version 3”, which is the latest and most widely used version, hence the term “POP3”.

What is the difference between POP and IMAP?

POP vs IMAP Remember that POP and POP3 are the same, POP3

is the most recent version of POP, which stands for Post Office Protocol

. POP3



downloads e-mail from one server to a

single computer, and then deletes e-mail from the


On the other hand, IMAP stores the message on a server and synchronizes the message across multiple devices


Should I use POP3 or IMAP?

It depends on how you want to access your emails.

Generally speaking, IMAP is more powerful and the recommended method for receiving email if you are working on multiple devices.

Alternatively, if you

prefer to have all emails accessible offline, and if you have a designated device for email, then POP might be a suitable option.

Summary of SMTP, IMAP,

and POP3

email protocols

To conclude our blog post on using SMTP or IMAP, here’s a quick rundown:

  • SMTP is the industry standard protocol for sending email. If you’re looking to send email, you’ll use SMTP instead of IMAP. An SMTP relay service can help you send e-mail without having to create your own SMTP server.
  • IMAP is one of the most common protocols for receiving email. IMAP syncs messages across devices.
  • POP3 is another protocol for receiving email on a single device. Using POP3 means that your email will be accessible offline and deleted from the server.

By now, you should see that there are significant differences between IMAP, POP, and SMTP. Let’s discuss how to send with SMTP.

How to send

outgoing email with


As we have discussed throughout this article, IMAP is for receiving email, while SMTP is for sending email. So, if you’re looking to send email, then you’d better use SMTP over IMAP.

How to send email with SMTP:

The fastest and easiest way to get started with SMTP is to use an SMTP relay service like SocketLabs. A cloud-based SMTP relay makes it easy to send email from your application or website, without having to create and maintain your own email systems.

Here’s how to get started:

    • Get your free trial of SocktLabs SMTP relay service
    • Log in to your account and locate

your SMTP credentials

send email with SMTP

  • Connect your SMTP credential to your application

That’s all there is to it! After you start sending, you can track the performance of your outgoing email with our StreamScore monitoring tool. streamscore dashboard

To get started with SMTP, create your free account here.

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