How to disable IDLE processes generated by mail clients?

The IDLE function (known as IMAP push) is used by almost every mail client. It allows the IMAP email users to receive any email changes without refreshing their mailbox.

In some cases, however, the email client stalls and keeps opening multiple processes that cannot be closed. Disabling the IDLE processes on your mail client will prevent these processes from piling up.

Here are the steps on how you can do this for some of the most popular mail clients nowadays:

Mozilla Thunderbird:

  • Go to Tools;
  • Select Account Settings;
  • Select Server Settings;
  • Uncheck Allow immediate server notifications when new messages arrive.

macOS Mail (up to OS X El Capitan):

  • From the Mail drop-down, click Preferences;
  • Navigate to Accounts;
  • Select your IMAP account from the list;
  • Click on the Advanced tab and disable the Use Idle setting.

NB: This configuration option has been removed from the MacMail client in the macOS versions newer than El Capitan.

Microsoft Outlook 2010:

  • Go to the Send/Receive tab;
  • Select Send/Receive Groups and click Define Send/Receive Groups;
  • For each Group, Uncheck, Schedule an automatic send/receive every x minutes;
  • Click Close.

Microsoft Outlook 2007:

  • Access Tools and navigate to Send/Receive;
  • Click Send/Receive Settings;
  • Select Define Send/Receive Groups;
  • For each Group, Uncheck, Schedule an automatic send/receive every x minutes;
  • Click Close.

Outlook for Mac:

  • Click Outlook;
  • Select Preferences;
  • Then Accounts;
  • Choose an email account;
  • Click Advanced;
  • Make sure that Use IMAP IDLE (if the server supports it) is not checked;
  • Click OK to save the changes.

Apple iPad:

  • Go to Settings and select Mail, Contacts, Calendars;
  • Under Accounts click Fetch New Data;
  • Turn ON Push and make sure it is set to Manually.

Android Mail:

  • Select your IMAP account;
  • Go to Menu | More | Settings | Send & Receive;
  • Select Set download frequency;
  • Change Peak times and Off-peak times to Manual.

Android K9 Mail:

  • Access your IMAP email account;
  • Go to Menu | More | Settings | Account Settings;
  • Change Folder poll check frequency to Never.

Palm WebOS:

  • Select Preferences & Accounts from the application menu (top Email tab);
  • Under Accounts, select your account;
  • Scroll down to the box titled Sync;
  • Change the setting for Get Email to As items arrive;
  • Use the back gesture to save your configuration.
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