Microsoft Outlook 2016 or 2019 for Windows

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This page explains how to set up Microsoft Outlook 2016 or 2019 on a Windows computer to send and receive email for an email mailbox that you’ve created. (Looking for instructions for Outlook on a Mac? See our Outlook 2016 for Mac page instead.)

The Outlook 2016 or 2019 programs are the versions that currently come with a “Microsoft 365” or “Office 365” subscription, if you have that.

Note that these instructions are not for “New Outlook”, which is a “preview test” that does not yet work properly in many cases. You want the program called “Outlook” from your Windows Start menu, not “Outlook (new)”:

Outlook Start Menu item

Before you continue, you should enter your email address (the address you want to set up in Microsoft Outlook) in the box above. Entering your email address makes sure that the instructions below are correct.

On this page:

Setting up Microsoft Outlook 2016 or 2019

These instructions create an IMAP connection using SSL security, which we recommend. If you prefer, we also have instructions explaining how to create an old-style POP3 connection.

1. Start the Microsoft Outlook program.

Use the Start menu to start Outlook 2016 or 2019. If you’ve never used Outlook before, it will usually prompt you to create a new account. In that case, skip ahead to step 2.

If Outlook doesn’t prompt you, click the File tab:

Outlook 2016 File tab

Then make sure that Info is selected on the left and click the Add Account button:

Outlook 2016 Add Account button

2. The “Welcome to Outlook” window appears.

Enter your email address as (all lowercase):

Welcome to Outlook screen

Then click Connect.

3. Outlook should ask for your password.

At this point, Outlook usually automatically detects the necessary settings and asks for your password. If it does, skip ahead to step 5.

If Outlook instead shows a “Choose Account Type” window, continue with step 4.

(If you want to force it show the manual settings, click Advanced Options > Let me set up my account manually before “Connect”. The next screen may ask you for your password and tell you it “couldn’t log on”; if so, click Change Account Settings to see the manual configuration screens.)

4. Manually enter the settings if necessary

If Outlook needs you to manually confirm or enter the settings, it will show you the “Choose Account Type” window like this:

Outlook 2016 Choose Account Type window

If you see this window, click IMAP, which then shows you a window of settings. Enter:

Incoming mail
Incoming mail port:143
Incoming mail encryption method:STARTTLS
Outgoing mail
Outgoing mail port:587
Outgoing mail encryption method:STARTTLS

Make sure that the two “Require logon using Secure Password Authentication (SPA)” checkboxes are not checked.

The window should look like this:

Outlook 2016 Settings window

Click Connect.

5. Outlook asks for your password.

Type the email password you chose when you created this email address, then click Connect.

6. Outlook setup is complete

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

Using Outlook 2016 or 2019

Here are a few tips for using Outlook 2016 or 2019 with setup as an IMAP account:

  1. Your account name will be listed in the left-hand column of the window. Click the small triangle to the left of your account name to show or hide the folders within your account.
  2. All of your folder (and sub-folders) are indented under the Inbox. Click the small triangle to the left of the Inbox to show or hide the sub-folders.
  3. Outlook will save a copy of any mail that you send in the "Sent Items" folder.
  4. Outlook will move deleted messages into the "Deleted Items" folder. That folder will not be emptied automatically. You can manually empty it at any time by right-clicking on the folder (in the folder list) and choose "Empty Folder".
  5. Outlook will save drafts of messages in the "Drafts" folder.

Outlook 2016 or 2019 and folders

When you use IMAP for an account, Outlook may display the account (and its folders) below the other accounts you have created. However, you can grab any account and drag it up or down in the list of folders.

You might need to click on the little triangle icon below the address to see all the folders on the server, too:

Outlook 2013 IMAP folders

We’ve seen some cases where Outlook will display both an indented server folder named “Drafts”, “Deleted Items”, “Junk E-mail”, or “Sent Items” plus a separate local unindented local folder of the same name, as in this “Junk E-mail” example:

Duplicate folders in Outlook 2013

This is just a quirk of Outlook; there’s no way we know of to remove the extra local folder.

Note that Outlook shows IMAP server folders indented beneath the email address by default. You can cause Outlook to display the folders unindented so that they line up with the Inbox folder. To do so:

  1. Click the File tab, then Account Settings
  2. Choose your email account, then click Change
  3. Click More Settings
  4. Click the Advanced tab
  5. In the Root folder path type INBOX
  6. Click OK and Next to save your changes

Also, please note that if you have multiple addresses, each address is separate: you can’t (for example) combine the “Drafts” folders of two different addresses into one folder.

Finally, if you don’t see a folder that you know is on the server, you can change an Outlook setting to make it show you everything.

How to fix folders showing “(This computer only)”

If you try to create a folder in your IMAP account, but the folder says “(This computer only)” next to it in Outlook, that usually means there’s something about the name of the folder that prevents Outlook from keeping it on the server.

In particular, using a forward slash in the name of a folder in Outlook causes this problem.

To fix it, create a new folder with a simpler name (we suggest using only letters, numbers and spaces), then drag your mail to that folder.

How do I set up two Outlook accounts for the same email address?

When you transfer mail from another company to our company (or vice-versa), it can be useful to temporarily set up Outlook to connect to both accounts. That way, you can simply drag mail from the old server to the new server. But some recent versions of Outlook won't let you easily add the second account; they’ll show an error message saying “This email address has already been added” if you try it the usual way described above.

If this happens to you, you can work around it by adding the new email address to Outlook using a different method.

Why does Outlook delay showing new mail or have trouble “synchronizing folders”?

We occasionally hear of cases where newly arrived messages are visible from other mail programs and Webmail, but Outlook takes several minutes (or even hours) to show them in the Inbox, often saying it’s still “synchronizing” the folders.

If this happens to you, first check that you don’t have more than 100,000 messages in a single folder, or more than 500 folders. Microsoft says that Outlook will not perform well if that happens, although we’ve sometimes heard of the problem happening even if you have fewer folders.

If that doesn’t apply, but you do have more than a handful of folders, try this to make Outlook avoid unnecessary synchronizations:

  1. In Outlook, click the Send / Receive tab
  2. Click Send/Receive Groups and choose Define Send/Receive Groups
  3. Make sure that “All Accounts” is highlighted and click Edit
  4. Uncheck Get folder unread count for subscribed folders
  5. Click OK to close the “Edit” window
  6. Click Close to close the “Send/Receive Groups” window

Finally, we’ve heard of rare cases where folders don’t successfully copy or “synchronize” unless you change the Outlook advanced settings “root folder path”. If you’re having trouble with this, especially when copying mail from your computer to the server, try this:

  1. Click the File tab, then Account Settings
  2. Choose your email account, then click Change
  3. In the Root folder path type INBOX
  4. Click Next and Done to save your changes

This change also makes it impossible to display the folders “indented” for that address in Outlook as a side effect. Unfortunately, if this fixes synchronization problems, the problem is caused by a bug in Outlook, and there’s no other way to solve it.

If none of these solutions work, this is likely to be caused by a problem within the Outlook program. We’ve found that deleting the IMAP “account” within Outlook (not in our control panel) and then re-adding it by following the instructions above usually fixes it. This will cause Outlook to download a new cached copy of the messages in the mailbox, but it will do that in the background, and you should be able to still use Outlook even if that takes a while.

Why does Outlook ask me to sign in to Google after I type my email address?

If this happens, it may mean that Microsoft has “hard-coded” Google as the provider for your domain name in their records. We have a page explaining how you can test and resolve this.