Setting Outlook 2007 to use IMAP

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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.)

Outlook 2007 is not recommended as an IMAP mail program. Please do not use it.

The 2007 version of Outlook has many design flaws that make it difficult and confusing to manage IMAP e-mail, and it performs very poorly — becoming almost unusable at times — with large amounts of mail. If you use it for IMAP, you almost certainly will have problems.

If you need an IMAP mail program, you should either upgrade to the current version of Outlook (if you need Outlook's calendar and contact syncing features) or using the free Mozilla Thunderbird program instead (if you don’t). If you must use Outlook 2007, we recommend using POP3 connections instead of IMAP.

Follow our standard instructions for setting up Outlook

You'll first need to follow the standard instructions to set up Outlook, with these two differences:

  1. In step 6, choose IMAP as the "Account Type" (instead of "POP3").
  2. In step 9, 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 setup a new IMAP account for the mailbox in Outlook. Once you have done this, you should either disable the old POP3 account, or copy any old mail (eg, sent mail) to the appropriate folders in the new IMAP account and then delete the old POP3 account.

Where's the Inbox?

Outlook shows the IMAP Inbox separately, below the normal POP Inbox, like this:

screen shot

If you don't see new mail, make sure you've opened the "address@example.com" section.

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. Right-click on the e-mail address 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 (or simply show them with a line through them, although you can change this). Likewise, Outlook will not store drafts in the server Drafts folder. This is a limitation of Outlook 2007. However, you can get Outlook to store sent mail in the IMAP server's Sent folder by following the procedure below.

Having Outlook save sent messages in the IMAP Sent folder

By default, if you tell Outlook to save copies of sent messages, they will be saved in the Sent Items folder on your local computer, not in the folder named Sent on the IMAP server. You can tell Outlook to save sent messages in the Sent folder on the IMAP server by following these instructions:

  1. Open the Tools menu and choose the Account Settings command. The "Account Settings" window opens.
  2. Select the IMAP account, then click Change. The "Change E-mail Account" window opens.
  3. Click More Settings. The "Internet E-mail Settings" window opens.
  4. Click the Folders tab.
  5. Click the Choose an existing folder or create a new folder to save your sent items for this account in option.
  6. Expand the list of folders, and choose the Sent folder. (If it is not available, make sure that the "Root folder path" on the "Advanced" tab contains INBOX.)
  7. Click OK to close the "Internet E-mail Settings" window.
  8. Click Next and then Finish to close the "Change E-mail Account" window.
  9. Click Close to close the "Account Settings" window.

Outlook is now setup to use IMAP

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