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Published: 17-11-2013 | Author: Remy van Elst | Text only version of this article

❗ This post is over ten years old. It may no longer be up to date. Opinions may have changed. is a python script to backup any IMAP capable email account to a bowsable HTML archive and a Maildir folder. Not one huge file (mbox), only needing a web browser to view and no proprietary code, so you can make sure I won't steal your password.

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Click here for a demo with the new interface
Click here for a demo with the old interface


Running the program

nopriv screenshot

Index page

nopriv screenshot

Folder Overview page

nopriv screenshot

Email itself

nopriv screenshot


nopriv screenshot

Empty Folder

nopriv screenshot

Command Line Client (links2):

nopriv screenshot


  • Works with any IMAP/IMAPS account
  • Supports multiple IMAP folders
  • Supports text, HTML and multipart email
  • Saves attachments
  • Supports incremental backups
  • Backups to HTML files for easy browsing
  • Small HTML files can be backed up to external medium more easily, and can be sent over the internet more easily.
  • Backs up to Maildir for easy restoring


New in version 6: (18-11-2013)

  • Add support to download all folders without typing them all out. Using "NoPriv_All" as foldername now downloads all available folders.
  • Fix quite a few HTML errors
  • Converted layout from HTML Kickstart to Twitter Bootstrap
  • Add offline mode (only converts the Maildir to HTML, does not try to download new email)

New in version 5:

  • Fix issue #22, NoPriv does not crash on empty IMAP folders anymore
  • Fix issue #23, NoPriv now tries a few times when the IMAP connection is reset. This happens with Google Mail sometimes.

New in version 4:

New in version 3.1:

  • Added a sample muttrc file to view NoPriv with the Mutt mail client.

New in version 3:

  • Supports incremental backups
  • If you stop the backup while running, it will now continue were it left off
  • Unread mails stay unread, but are backed up (before they were marked as read)
  • Restoring possible because it also creates a Maildir
  • Better unicode support
  • Attachment page is now also styled

New in version 2:

  • Support for multiple IMAP folders
  • Index page is generated
  • Pages have menu now.
  • On running it shows all available IMAP folders.


  1. Clone the repository:

git clone git://

  1. Set up your login details, imap server and ssl:

Edit the nopriv.ini file with your IMAP server, login and password:

imap_server =
imap_user =
imap_password = my_secret_password
imap_folder = INBOX, Draft, Newletters

ssl = true
incremental_backup = true

If you want to use SSL to connect to IMAP, or want to use incremental backups, enable or disable the options.

If you want to backup all folders, enterNoPriv_All as imap_folder.

Nopriv.ini can be in the following locations:

  • './nopriv.ini'
  • './.nopriv.ini'
  • '~/.config/nopriv.ini'
  • '/opt/local/etc/nopriv.ini'
  • '/etc/nopriv.ini'

If you use gmail and want to backup all your email, use the "[Gmail]/All Mail" folder. It might be named different if you use another locale, for me with a Dutch gmail account it is named "[Gmail]/Alle Berichten".

  1. Execute the script:

python ./

  1. Browse the generated backup:

Open the file index.html in your browser. There are all your folders and emails.

If you only have a console, it works just fine in Links2 (see above screenshot):

links2 ./index.html


Python 2.7

Running debian 6 which has python 2.6.6? See here how to install python 2.7 on debian 6.

Known issues

  • Does not work with python3 (Feel free to port/fix it.)
  • Does not handle all charsets. Works best with utf-8 and ascii.
  • No search function.
  • Not able to change default sorting (latest first).

Info on incremental backups

If you disable incremental backups, the script will run over the folders, create a maildir, create the pages and then move the maildir to $ where date is a timestamp. If you enable incremental backup, it will create a text file nopriv.txt with the mail ID's of the folder, so that it know which ID it needs to continue on the next time it is ran. If you delete emails from the folder, the incremental function will not work as expected because of differing ID's.

Info on restoring

Nopriv creates a Maildir folder, which houses all your email. You can restore this maildir folder to an IMAP account either by using the script linked at the top on this page, or use a mail client like Mutt or Evolution and transport it to an imap account via there.

More Info:

Tags: backup , email , gmail , html , imap , imaps , maildir , mbox , python , software