Setting Outlook 2002 and 2003 to use IMAP

With Microsoft Outlook, you can optionally use IMAP connections to read incoming mail. Using IMAP (instead of the more widely used “POP3” method) allows you to keep your messages on our servers instead of downloading them to your computer.

Keeping your messages on our servers can be useful if you read mail two completely different ways. For example, if you use both Outlook and Webmail, each program will share the same Inbox and will therefore know what messages you've read. (If you always read mail using just a single copy of Outlook, using IMAP won't make a difference and probably isn't worth the effort.)

Note that Outlook 2003 is not generally considered a good program for viewing IMAP mail — it has many design quirks that people find annoying. Other programs, such as Mozilla Thunderbird, do a better job of IMAP and are recommended if you don’t need other Outlook features.

On this page:

Follow our standard instructions for setting up Outlook 2002 or 2003

You'll first need to follow the standard instructions to set up Outlook 2002 or 2003, with the following two differences:

  • In step 3, choose IMAP (instead of “POP3”).
  • In step 7, enter INBOX in the “Root folder path” box. In addition, the “Incoming server (IMAP)” port should be 143, and the “Outgoing server (SMTP)” port should be 587.

If you previously set up your mailbox as a POP3 account in Outlook, you'll unfortunately need to delete that account, then go through the setup instructions again.

Where's my mail?!

When you use IMAP, Outlook displays the IMAP mail at the bottom of the list on the left hand side. Make sure to click all the + signs to open all the folders.

(This is just the way Outlook always handles IMAP mail. We agree that it's strange to see it at the bottom of the list, but there's no way to change it. Other programs, such as Mozilla Thunderbird, handle this better.)

Why does my deleted mail have lines through it?

This is another Outlook IMAP “quirk”. To avoid this, click the View menu and choose Arranged By > Current View > Hide Messages Marked For Deletion.

Seeing folders other than Inbox

By default, Outlook will only show the Inbox folder. However, IMAP also provides additional folders named Drafts, Sent, and Trash, and you can create other folders using our Webmail system.

To see these other folders in Outlook, you need to “subscribe” to them:

  1. Open the Tools menu and choose the IMAP Folders command. The “IMAP Folders” window opens.
  2. Click Query.
  3. Select the desired folder then click Subscribe. An icon appears next to each subscribed folder.
  4. Repeat for any additional folders, as desired.
  5. Click OK to close the window.

Note: even though you can use this procedure to display the Trash folder, Outlook will continue to use its own “Deleted Items” folder for deleted messages. Likewise, Outlook will not store drafts and sent mail in the server Drafts and Sent folders. This is a limitation of Outlook 2002 and 2003. You will be able to use Outlook to view items placed in these folders by Webmail, though.

Outlook is now setup to use IMAP

You're finished! Try sending yourself a test email message to make sure it works.