Is there an email client that allows me to access a mail account read only? Which means that cannot change any message, any flag, and the like. It seems that Thunderbird does not provide such a switch, but perhaps other clients do have this functionality.

  • 1
    As far as I know, read only access to a Shared Exchange Mailbox can be granted to individuals using the Microsoft Outlook client. Dec 26, 2016 at 5:27
  • 1
    Could you clarify how such a switch would be changed? If anyone can change it, it's not a security feature (which should rather be on the server side in the first place), but if it's about preventing yourself from accidentally making any changes, the situation and thus the exact requirements are different. Oct 10, 2020 at 11:01

2 Answers 2


I would accomplish your requirements by setting up nginx server (even locally) and setup IMAP proxy in it, then configure it to deny certain IMAP command (the ones which modify anything). nginx is not only capable to proxy http, but also IMAP. then point your email client to the newly set up nginx as IMAP server.


Not exactly what you ask, but a secure way to allow any IMAP or POP3 email client read-only access is by setting up a service that a) maintains a mirror of all emails, and b) offers read-only IMAP and/or POP3 access to clients.

For mirroring, the most efficient and reliable tool, when original emails are accessible via mature IMAP, is InterIMAP.
For less capable IMAP services (e.g. Gmail) you might instead consult this fine comparison.

For re-exposing the emails read-only, I recommend to use Dovecot. A nice summary of setting up Dovecot to expose emails read-only is here.

These tools are all Free Software (a.k.a. Open Source), which means they are not only free-of-charge, but also free-to-selfhost and free-to-make-a-million-dollar-company-with.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.