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Changing the IMAP IDLE interval

What is the IDLE interval?

Per default, Dovecot sends a "I'm still here" notification to every client that has an open connection with Dovecot to get mails as quickly as possible without manually polling it (IMAP PUSH). This notification is controlled by the setting imap_idle_notify_interval, which defaults to 2 minutes.

A short interval results in the client getting a lot of messages for this connection, which is bad for mobile devices, because every time the device receives this message, the mailing app has to wake up. This can result in unnecessary battery drain.

Edit the value

Change configuration

Create a new file data/conf/dovecot/extra.conf (or edit it if it already exists). Insert the setting followed by the new value. For example, to set the interval to 5 minutes you could type:

imap_idle_notify_interval = 5 mins

29 minutes is the maximum value allowed by the corresponding RFC.


This isn't a default setting in mailcow because we don't know how this setting changes the behavior of other clients. Be careful if you change this and monitor different behavior.

Reload Dovecot

Now reload Dovecot:

docker compose exec dovecot-mailcow dovecot reload
docker-compose exec dovecot-mailcow dovecot reload


You can check the value of this setting with

docker compose exec dovecot-mailcow dovecot -a | grep "imap_idle_notify_interval"
docker-compose exec dovecot-mailcow dovecot -a | grep "imap_idle_notify_interval"

If you didn't change it, it should be at 2m. If you did change it, you should see your new value.