iOS Mail, subfolders not syncing

I mainly do email on a Mac. On the Mac, I have subfolders, and I move messages to the appropriate subfolders. For example, I would move a hotel reservation confirmation email to a subfolder for the trip during which I would stay at the hotel.

I have an iPad, and I would like the moved messages to be in the subfolders on the iPad. By default, they are apparently not copied to a subfolder on the iPad until I navigate to that particular subfolder. Of course, the messages are only copied then if I have a network connection, and I might want to review a message when I do not have a network connection.

Is there some way I can tell the iPad to synchronize all subfolders without navigating to each subfolder? Navigation to the individual subfolder is necessary in each account (iCloud, gmail, and Exchange), so it doesn’t seem to be related to the server. In other words, the subfolders appear in the mailbox list on the iPad, but until I select a particular subfolder, it will not have recently added messages on the iPad. (By recently added, I mean since I last navigated to the subfolder. Some of the messages that just downloaded were six months old.)

Unrelated to the problem I just described (which is by far my main concern), yesterday I tried to view the messages in a particular subfolder. (Of course, that’s why it’s on my mind and why I’m posting this message.) I had a network connection (from a college, and that required a login, if it matters), but the subfolder did not populate. At home and connected to my ISP, I went to the subfolder and it promptly downloaded the messages in that subfolder. What settings should I check to try to figure out why the messages would not download while I was away from my ISP?

In case it matters, it’s an iPad Air 4th generation running iPadOS 14.8. However, the problem existed on an iPad Air2 with multiple versions of iOS and iPadOS. The iPad Air 4th generation has 256 GB with 21 GB used.

Thank you for any help.

I’m afraid that’s the same behavior I see with my work IMAP account (gmail). Only when I actually navigate to the directory does it get updated. I don’t have push on though, I always check for mail manually. But I do that often. Nevertheless, folder contents only gets updated when I go that folder and refresh. My suspicion is this is on Apple’s end (iOS Mail) and deliberate, i.e. reduce network traffic, save battery, etc.

For those who need the ultimate in folder-handling in iOS email apps, there are two apps you may wish to consider: Preside and AltaMail. I wrote about them here:

I have push on (for an iCloud account, which isn’t my main account) and fetch set to 15 minutes, and Apple Mail keeps a subfolder updated for me. But it’s one that I have added to the mailbox list. (On iPhone, show the list of mailboxes, tap edit at the top right, tap “add mailbox” at the bottom of the list, navigate to the gmail label, tap it so it is checked, tap Done too right.)

I’m afraid that’s not it as I have several of those gmail folders already selected to be listed up there.

I suspect though the different behavior we see may be related to our checking preferences. You indicate you have set 15-min fetch, but I have chosen manual.

Just pointing out the settings that work for me, both iPhone and iPad, including my fetch settings.

I thought it was because Apple’s mobile email apps don’t keep permanent copies of all your IMAP messages on device. If you’ve had the account for a while, that could be a significant hit on the device’s storage. The messages are on the server, and they are fetched from there if needed.

For me, the problem is that I don’t fit Apple’s target demographic of being always connected to the internet (and always connected to high speed internet).

IMHO, that should be the user’s choice. As I noted above, I have a 256 GB iPad with 21 GB used. Ideally, the user should be able to designate by folder whether it should be kept current.

Thank you, for the settings and for the details on how to “add mailbox” to the list. (If I ever knew that, I had forgotten.) I have replicated your settings (except 1 hour fetch rather than 15 minutes, but long term, I assume that won’t matter) but it’s too soon to test the result. I do wish that adding a mailbox to the list would also add sub-mailboxes, but it appears not to work that way.

I don’t think that’s related since we’re talking about even just displaying an indexed listing of emails. This doesn’t require downloading or storing the entire message. Basically all that’s needed is header information.