Configuring IMAP folders in Windows Live Mail

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We no longer recommend Windows Live Mail.

Windows Live Mail is long obsolete. It has numerous bugs and problems, and does not work well if you also read mail on other devices like a phone.

if you're looking for a different free email program, Mozilla Thunderbird is much more reliable (and is what we use ourselves).

Since we no longer recommend using Windows Live Mail, the information below is provided only for historical reasons, and should not be used to setup new addresses.

With Windows Live Mail, you can optionally use IMAP connections for reading incoming mail. Using IMAP (instead of the more widely used "POP3") 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 Windows Live Mail and Webmail, each program will know what messages you've read, and the two programs will share a single "sent mail" folder on the server. (If you always read mail using a single copy of Windows Live Mail, using IMAP won't make a difference and probably isn't worth the effort.)

This page assumes that you have already followed the basic instructions to set up Windows Live Mail and chosen the IMAP option instead of POP. If you did not choose IMAP, you will need to delete the existing POP account that you defined, and then go through the instructions again, this time choosing "IMAP" instead of "POP3". (The port numbers will also be different.)

Configuring IMAP

To configure IMAP, you will:

  • Open the Properties settings window for your mail account.
  • Set the root folder path and specify folders for storing your drafts, deleted messages, and copies of sent messages.

1. Start the Windows Live Mail program.

Start Windows Live Mail via the Start button or other link.

When Windows Live Mail opens, click Tools, then Accounts from the menu bar. (If the program's menu bar is not visible, hold down the Alt key and press the letter T, then release both keys.)

2. The "Accounts" window appears.

Highlight the email account you wish to change and click Properties.

The "Properties" window appears:

screen shot

You should not need to change any of the settings on the General tab.

3. Set the IMAP folders.

Click the IMAP tab, then:

  • Enter Inbox for the "Root folder path".
  • Check the box marked "Check for new messages in all folders".

To have Windows Live Mail save drafts, deleted messages, and copies of sent messages on the IMAP server (rather than on your PC), set the following options:

  • Check the box marked "Store special folders on IMAP server". (Otherwise drafts, deleted, and sent messages will be stored on your local hard disk, called "Storage Folders" by Windows Live Mail.)
  • Enter Sent for the "Sent Items Path".
  • Enter Drafts for the "Drafts path".
  • Enter Trash for the "Deleted Items path".
  • You can leave the "Junk path" set to whatever folder name you desire.

The values Sent, Drafts, and Trash are case-sensitive. Be sure to enter them exactly as shown (one capital letter and the rest lowercase), and not, for example, as "sent" or "SENT".

screen shot

4. Close the setup windows.

Click OK to close the Properties window, then click Close to close the Accounts window. If Windows Live then asks you whether you would like to refresh your folder list choose Yes.

Windows Live Mail is now setup to use IMAP!

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

What if my Inbox disappears?

We have seen customers encounter a problem where if they refresh their IMAP folder list several times, the Inbox disappears from the list of folders (but all of the messages are still safely in the Inbox on our server). If this happens to you, try going back to step 3 above and clearing the "Root folder path", click OK and Close and let it refresh the folder list, then go back and restore Inbox as the "Root folder path".

If that doesn't fix the problem, then the only other solution is to delete the mail account within Windows Live Mail, then re-create it. Hopefully Microsoft will fix this bug in the future.