Pigeonhole: IMAPSieve Plugin

As defined in the base specification RFC 5228, the Sieve language is used only during delivery. However, in principle, it can be used at any point in the processing of an email message. RFC 6785 defines the use of Sieve filtering in IMAP, operating when messages are created or their attributes are changed. This feature extends both Sieve and IMAP. Therefore, Pigeonhole provides both an IMAP plugin and a Sieve plugin.

The sieve_imapsieve plugin implements the imapsieve extension for the Sieve filtering language, adding functionality for using Sieve scripts from within IMAP. The imap_sieve plugin for IMAP adds the IMAPSIEVE capability to the imap service. The basic IMAPSIEVE capability allows attaching a Sieve script to a mailbox for any mailbox by setting a special IMAP METADATA entry. This way, users can configure Sieve scripts that are run for IMAP events in their mailboxes.

Beyond the standard, the Pigeonhole implementation also adds the ability for administrators to configure Sieve scripts outside the user’s control, that are run either before or after a user’s script if there is one.

This plugin is available for Pigeonhole v0.4.14 and higher (available for Dovecot v2.2.24). The plugins are included in the Pigeonhole package and are therefore implicitly compiled and installed with Pigeonhole itself.


The IMAP plugin is activated by adding it to the mail_plugins setting for the imap protocol:

protocol imap {
  mail_plugins = $mail_plugins imap_sieve

This will only enable support for administrator scripts. User scripts are only supported when additionally a Sieve URL is configured using the imapsieve_url plugin setting. This URL points to the ManageSieve server that users need to use to upload their Sieve scripts. This URL will be shown to the client in the IMAP CAPABILITY response as IMAPSIEVE=<URL>.

The Sieve plugin is activated by adding it to the sieve_plugins setting:

sieve_plugins = sieve_imapsieve

This plugin registers the imapsieve extension with the Sieve interpreter. This extension is enabled implicitly, which means that it does not need to be added to the sieve_extensions setting.

Note that the imapsieve extension can only be used in a Sieve script that is invoked from IMAP. When it is used in the active delivery script, it will cause runtime errors. To make a Sieve script suitable for both delivery and IMAP, the availability of the extension can be tested using the ihave test RFC 5463 as usual.

The following settings are recognized the “imap_sieve” plugin:

imapsieve_url =

If configured, this setting enables support for user Sieve scripts in IMAP. So, leave this unconfigured if you don’t want users to have the ability to associate Sieve scripts with mailboxes. This has no effect on the administrator-controlled Sieve scripts explained below. The value is an URL pointing to the ManageSieve server that users must use to upload their Sieve scripts; e.g., sieve://sieve.example.com.

imapsieve_mailboxXXX_name =

This setting configures the name of a mailbox for which administrator scripts are configured. The `XXX’ in this setting is a sequence number, which allows configuring multiple associations between Sieve scripts and mailboxes. The settings defined hereafter with matching sequence numbers apply to the mailbox named by this setting. The sequence of configured mailboxes ends at the first missing imapsieve_mailboxXXX_name setting. This setting supports wildcards with a syntax compatible with the IMAP LIST command, meaning that this setting can apply to multiple or even all (“*”) mailboxes.

imapsieve_mailboxXXX_before =

imapsieve_mailboxXXX_after =

When an IMAP event of interest occurs, these sieve scripts are executed before and after any user script respectively. These settings each specify the location of a single sieve script. The semantics of these settings are very similar to the sieve_before and sieve_after settings: the specified scripts form a sequence together with the user script in which the next script is only executed when an (implicit) keep action is executed.

imapsieve_mailboxXXX_causes =

Only execute the administrator Sieve scripts for the mailbox configured with imapsieve_mailboxXXX_name when one of the listed IMAPSIEVE causes RFC 6785#section-4.3 apply (currently either APPEND, COPY, or FLAG. This has no effect on the user script, which is always executed no matter the cause.

imapsieve_mailboxXXX_from =

Only execute the administrator Sieve scripts for the mailbox configured with imapsieve_mailboxXXX_name when the message originates from the indicated mailbox. This setting supports wildcards with a syntax compatible with the IMAP LIST command

See Replacing antispam plugin with IMAPSieve as example on how to use this.