When will management of server-side tags for Dovecot be supported?


When will management of server-side TAGS (IMAP Labels) for Dovecot be supported from the eM Client interface?

When will management of server-side RULES (Sieve) for Dovecot be supported from the eM Client interface?

That’s what I want to know. Thank you kindly.

When will management of server-side TAGS (IMAP Labels) for Dovecot be supported from the eM Client interface?

Dovecot Server side tags are already supported as per the eM Client blog link in March below.

Quote from the above blog on assigning tags

“Currently, you can take advantage of tag sync with Gmail, IceWarp, Exchange, Dovecot, and Imageway accounts”.

Quote from the above blog on assigning tags

“To assign a server tag, right-click on the message and look for the tags above the line. The tags above the line are server-side, while those under the line are local tags”.

You can see & manage server tags via “Menu / Tags” When you get there click the dropdown arrow on the right of Local Tags along the top and select your server tags.

See @Gary EWS server side tag example below from the following thread.


When will management of server-side RULES (Sieve) for Dovecot be supported from the eM Client interface?

Dovecot server side rules “might also now be supported in the latest eM Client versions” like server side Dovecot tags are.

To check if available, when you are in eM Client rules, click the drop-down on the right of Local Rules and see if the Dovecot server appears. See example screenshot below from the blog page .

Note: If Dovecot server side rules are still not available with the latest eM Client version, then you might need to wait for a later version of eM Client via the release history page .

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Not working for my particular situation.

Let me try to clarify:

eM Client (EMC) can RETRIEVE server-side tags on an individual email message basis (message). EMC cannot RETRIEVE all of the server side tags created on the mailbox (mailbox). EMC cannot CREATE server-side tags. EMC can DELETE server-side tags on an individual email basis. EMC cannot UPDATE server-side tags on a mailbox lever (mailbox) and since the update function happens in the “manage tags” interface (the mailbox level tag interface) it follows that EMC cannot UPDATE server-side tags on a (message) level either.

Here’s a table comparing Thunderbird and eM Client’s broken imap label support for Dovecot:

TAG Mangement
ThunderBird eM Client
Create (message) YES NO
Create (mailbox) NO NO
Retrieve (message) NO YES
Retrieve (mailbox) NO NO
Update (message) NO NO
Update (mailbox) NO NO
Delete (message) NO* YES
Delete (mailbox) NO NO
* Only Tags that were created on the local instance of TB can be deleted. This change is reflected server-side.

If EMC developers are interested in getting this working please let me know and I will give of my time in a meaningful way (5 hours a week? for a month?) as this would be of serious benefit to me and the company I work for and I am sure I am not alone. I would help test/troubleshoot.

Displaying server-side (NonJunk) tag. Only option is to delete.

Test Tag created in Thunderbird

Mailbox level tag retrieval fails:

Retrieval of a list of created server side tags for a mailbox is not possible with IMAP since it doesn’t directly support this functionality. The server must support a custom API for such functionality, such as what Exchange (EWS) or GMail API’s support to retrieve a list of all the created server-side tags.

Thunderbird by default creates default tags (Important, Work, Personal, To Do, Later) which when used actually map to the server-side names $label1, $label2 etc. If you create a new tag in Thunderbird it will use the name you created as the servers-side storage name. So the way Thunderbird does things with those default tags is very ugly since most clients will not display tags starting with “$” on the messages since those are usually for reserved functions (in the same way Windows hides files starting with a period).

eM Client will always use the created tag name as the server-side name so it matches. It will create reserved functionality labels for special eM Client based functionality, such as Snooze and Watch for Reply. Doing this allows eM Client to sync Snoozed and Watched for Reply emails between multiple clients.

So basically, when using the tag functionality via a supported IMAP server, the client only shows the tag when the individual email messages are loaded, unless it ignores showing the tags for special reserved function tags (such as ones that start with $). If you want to use that tag in your individual email client, you will need to add it to the list of tags in each client. As mentioned prior, IMAP doesn’t support in the spec the ability to get a list of all the created labels since it doesn’t normally keep a list, it only sets the tag on the email itself. Such functionality would need to be handled through a custom API interface. I am not sure if Dovecot supports such custom functionality, but based on what I can find about how Dovecot handles IMAP Keywords it seems it does not: Maildir Mailbox Format — Dovecot documentation

So from what I can see things are being handled correctly, and Thunderbird provides no extra functionality then eM Client when using IMAP Keywords on supported IMAP servers. Thunderbird actually makes things worst the way it handles those default tags. In conclusion, email client tag support via IMAP is supported through a hack of sorts by using IMAP Keywords, and it doesn’t support server side functionality such as keeping a list of all the create tags for a given mailbox without some non-standard addition to IMAP by way of something like a custom API.

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Thank you so much for this response.

From what I understand, the state of affairs for my particular situation is rather depressing.

IMHO IMAP needs a to either step-up it’s game against GAFAM products or be left in the dust. Ideologically, I think an open protocol for email still has a place in this world, but I do not have high hopes unless some serious thought is put into server-side functionality going forward.

For whatever it’s worth: I always delete the default tags in TB before doing anything else in hopes that “starting tag creation from scratch” will clear the ‘$label1-5’ problem. I’m not sure that it does anything…

The rather depressing state of affairs is that most open protocols are being killed by the big companies by way of their own custom protocols to handle their specific services, eliminating interoperability. It seems like the only widely used open protocols left are HTTP and SMTP. I didn’t include IMAP since you can bypass that using Webmails, EWS, MAPI, and Activesync making it not as widely used anymore. For example all the chat clients now use their own protocols rather then something like XMPP or IRC allowing interoperability. At least we are starting to see some push back recently to such things such as the debates going on about iMessage interoperability, App stores, and Social Media interoperability being fought for by using ActivityPub. This is a conversation of its own.

When it comes to IMAP, I do agree IMAP support for tags is lacking and was never really supported properly but was added using a hack of sorts by way of IMAP Keywords which was already part of the spec. If I had to point out another point of weakness in IMAP it would be IMAP IDLE was never done in a way to be used on mobile devices (thus why the eM Client mobile client has to use a work around for push email support). It is hard to completely rewrite something that has been tried and true for many years (IMAP dates back to 1988), and what new functionality does get added comes by way of an extension, revision, or amendment to the IMAP4rev1 protocol (RFC 3501 - INTERNET MESSAGE ACCESS PROTOCOL - VERSION 4rev1). Of course that process is slow, and becomes less of a priority when that protocol is being used less in favor of more of the custom less open protocols (EWS, MAPI, Activesync for example) being pushed by the big companies. A more favorable approach would be for the big companies to work to improve the existing protocols, but in most instances they don’t for a lock in effect along with being able to move faster. The only protocol it seems like this has happened with is HTTP, and thus why we have HTTP/2 (Google helped create), and now HTTP/3 (QUIC) in browsers, along with backwards compatibility still existing for HTTP1.0/1.1. It is too bad the same thing that happened with HTTP didn’t happen with IMAP, but does happen by way of extensions to SMTP with the addition of such things as DKIM, SPF, DMARC, and more recently ARC.

I agree deleting those default tags in TB is a good practice. What I don’t know is if you recreate those using the same names if it reverts to using the ‘$label1-5’ servers-side storage names again. Hopefully it doesn’t once you erase them originally. All I can say is that eM Client does its best to support tags on IMAP given what is supported in the IMAP spec, and it provides extended support (for the feature your asking) for some servers (EWS, Google, etc…) if widely used and an API for such functionality is supported.

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If the Dovecot server side tags don’t work for you as per the blog, then “it could be a limitation of the Dovecot servers with IMAP accounts & Tags”, as when i use eM Client and a Gmail IMAP account, i get all the Gmail Server-side Tags appear to select from in emails via the right click as in the blog documentation, and can create and delete them etc either from the Gmail online end or eM Client Tags end.

Suggest then if you have purchased eM Client Pro and have an active subscription to login and lodge a support ticket via the Pro support site and an assigned engineer will get back to you.


Retrieval of a list of created server side tags for a mailbox is not possible with IMAP since it doesn’t directly support this functionality. The server must support a custom API for such functionality, such as what Exchange (EWS) or GMail API’s support to retrieve a list of all the created server-side tags.

If retrieval of created server side Tag sync is not possible with IMAP accounts as you say, then why would eM Client say they support server side tags with Dovecot in the blog ? eg: Quote extract from blog: “You can take advantage of tag sync with Dovecot accounts” . That to me means eM Client does support server side tags with Dovecot.

Unless the blog is referring to a eg: Dovecot “Exchange type account” configured in eM Client ? However I don’t even know if Dovecot even supports Exchange account setups in Mail clients ?

Maybe other users on this forum who use Dovecot and tags can update this thread if it does work properly. @Gary do you know if the Dovecot server side tags are supported with IMAP accounts ?


It does support server side tags on supported IMAP servers, which Dovecot is one of them, but the way it works was in question. IMAP servers don’t have a method where you can sync the tag listing management you see in the client. So when you create a new tag in the eM Client (or Thunderbird) interface, that is not sync’ed to the IMAP server. When you do tag an email with a client based tag you created, it sets a IMAP Keyword using the tag name you created in eM Client on the email itself and corresponding folder. If you create a new tag for example in Thunderbird and then tag an email, then eM Client will show that tag on the email, but that tag will not be listed in the eM Client list of tags, it will show only on the email itself.

GMail as you mentioned has a separate API to access GMail created labels, which eM Client supports. So when it comes to GMail, eM Client supports the API to allow you to manage the tags. When it comes to IMAP eM Client uses the “Local Tags” listing, and if the IMAP server is supported then when you set a local tag it will also set that tag on the email itself on the server side.

This is why server side storage of tags is limited in eM Client to specific IMAP servers. The only feature I can think of that could be added to eM Client would be an on-demand option to add the known server side tags used on emails to the tag manager “Local Tags” listing. Of course such an operation would require eM Client to scan all the emails to find out what has been used, and then add it to your “Local Tags” listing automatically. An issue with doing this is that if you delete a “Local Tag” it doesn’t mean it gets removed from the IMAP server, since once again IMAP doesn’t support a direct mechanism for removing IMAP Keywords from emails efficiently. So what ends up happening is you can remove the “Local Tag” from eM Client, and still have emails with that tag since it needs to be removed from the emails themselves. If you sync’ed the listing again then it would be re-added unless you remove that tag from all emails that had that tag in your mailbox. So that is why such a feature is probably not worth the effort.

That is why I say IMAP server support for tags is sort of a hack and is not a true tag management server sync type setup like what is supported for EWS and GMail since they have custom API’s for such functionality. GMail is weird since it doesn’t even support folders, it supports labels only. But when you use IMAP on GMail, the GMail IMAP server actually converts your labels into folders from an IMAP perspective, since IMAP doesn’t have any label/tag support built in. Label management in GMail comes by way of their API interface, not IMAP. In general GMail IMAP support is subpar.

Hopefully that makes better sense. Unfortunately IMAP is very old and missing some things like tags/labels, advanced push support, and 2FA. To support such things you have to use creative hacks which don’t always support everything newer protocols like EWS/MAPI does. When it comes to tags/labels it uses IMAP Keywords, for push support you have to use IMAP IDLE (which most mobile devices don’t support very well), and for 2FA you have to come up with creative password combinations. Not ideal, but it does provide some sort of server side support.


Ok thanks for that info.