User-defined flags are also known as IMAP keywords and, as the name implies, are defined by IMAP users. There is a de facto standard that keywords that are in common use have names that begin with a dollar sign ($). Examples of common keywords are:
The Mozilla-based IMAP clients, SeaMonkey Suite and Thunderbird, have the above five $LabelN keywords hardwired in and do not currently  allow users to create custom personal keywords. Since my other desktop IMAP clients, Pine and Mulberry, let me specify custom personal keywords, I have set them up so they can use the above five $LabelN keywords. In Mozilla-based clients, the following are the default display names for these:
- To Do
- To Do
- To Do Maybe
- To Train As Spam
- To Train As Not Spam
- To Block Filter
- To Accept Filter
- To SMTP Filter
- To Sieve Filter
In any case, all five of these IMAP keywords, as well as the IMAP system flags, are available in all my desktop IMAP clients (Mulberry, Pine, and SeaMonkey Suite) and are helping me to organize and manage my messages and my filters. I am hopeful that they will someday (soon!) also be available in my web-based IMAP clients.
To learn more about IMAP keywords, see the keywords section of my IMAP Service Providers page.
Please post any thoughts you have about IMAP keywords. I'm especially interested in learning about IMAP clients (both desktop and web-based) that support IMAP keywords, and about the keywords and colors that you use to help you manage your messages.
 Thanks to sphery for adding a comment to this blog item and pointing out wiki.mozilla.org/Thunderbird2:Tags, which describes the future of labels (aka tags) in the Mozilla-based IMAP clients.
 Many IMAP systems use either Sieve or Procmail for delivery-level filtering and as the message delivery agent (MDA).
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It only seems to allow label-searches on local folders. I don't know how TB2 might change this.
I'm currently searching for a mail reader that supports tagging but haven't really found a lot (TB 2 seems to support it but is too new at the moment :) . Outlook 2003 has "Categories" but I have no clue where they are stored (guess if I switch away from Outlook later all tagged messages will be untagged again - too risky).
Thunderbird still has the same five default tags. I haven't checked to see what tags end up getting written to the server. Whenever you add a tag, the tag gets added to the tag list behind these five default tags.
A HIDDEN FEATURE (this may be documented)... After adding a tag, you can "edit" the tag in Thunderbird's preferences. This does *NOT* change the name of the server tag. It only changes the name of the local display. Therefore you can have a server tag like "dad" and have a local tag like "Messages from Dad" or something like that.
But when trying the same with my work mail account (which resides on an MS Exchange server), the tags were lost after rebuilding the folder index... My guess is that Exchange does not support storing IMAP keywords on the server - can anyone confirm that? It seems that TB2 stores the tags in its local mailbox index instead... The Outlook Categories again seem to be stored either by Outlook locally or via a special (MAPI) function on the Exchange server.
Strange thing is that http://www.ii.com/internet/messaging/imap/isps/#keywords lists MS Exchange as keyword-capable server. Anyone has more infos on that? Do our admins have to enable the IMAP keywords feature explicitly?
I found this an interesting article (as far as I understand, about Thunderbird and IMAP tags):
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