mutt responsive way to refresh inbox

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http://unix.stackexchange.com – Using mutt with Gmail I "check for e-mail updates" sometimes through the $ binding (sync-mailbox), sometimes just by using c (change folder) and just supplying = (defaults to MAILBOX) as the IMAP folder path to change to. Is there a better (in particular: faster) way of doing the same? A solution would be something that is more direct than "pretending to switch folders", as I do, for example. Also something that does not "miss" some updates, as $ seems to do at times (perhaps $ is not meant to check for e-mails at all but just to expunge messages marked as deleted, etc?) (HowTos)