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How to access your emails in the smarter Microsoft Outlook using IMAP?

In this article I will explain how to connect to your email account via IMAP, using outlook. I am using Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 to explain the process. If you have another version of outlook, you can still apply the same concept with minor variations and will be able to connect.

It may be noted that we are talking about using IMAP here and not POP. People are normally accustomed to connecting from local email client (such as outlook) via POP protocol.

When you connect via POP, you are able to download a copy of all mails from your server Inbox and read them offline. You are also able to send out emails from your local machine, with the sent mails remaining stored locally enabling you to view them offline.

However, when you want to keep all your received and sent mails on the server (especially when you access your email account from multiple computers), you need to use the IMAP protocol to connect. When you connect outlook via IMAP, your email client (viz. outlook) in a way becomes merely an interface and shows all your server mail folders locally, just like you would see them in webmail. The mails physically remain on the server itself. They do not get downloaded to your local computer.

You are able to see all your server mail folders and mails stored in them only as long as you remain connected. The moment you disconnect from your mail server or disconnect your internet connection, everything vanishes from your local client. This is because you were only seeing a snapshot of what exists on the server.

Steps to configure Microsoft Outlook 2007 for sending and receiving emails

Start Microsoft Outlook 2007. Click the Tools menu and select Account Settings.

On the E-mail tab, click New.

Choose type of Email Service as Microsoft Exchange, POP3, IMAP or HTTP and click Next.

Fill in all necessary fields to include the following information:

Choose E-mail Service as Internet E-mail to connect to your POP, IMAP, or HTTP server to send and receive e-mail messages. Click Next.

In the Internet E-mail Settings dialog, verify your User Information and enter the following additional details:

Click More Settings...

Fill up the General tab with relevant information as shown below.

Outgoing Server Tab: Check the box next to My outgoing server (SMTP) requires authentication and ensure that the option Use same settings as my incoming mail server is selected.

Advanced Tab: This tab is for configuring port nos. Normally, you should be okay leaving this as default.

Usually, the port used for the Outgoing Mail Server/SMTP Service is 25. However, there might be a situation where your ISP might be blocking the use of port 25 for SMTP service. Some ISPs block port 25 in order to minimize the amount of spam sent using their network. If you are facing issues sending mails using the default port 25, you can confirm with your ISP whether port 25 is indeed blocked by them. To circumvent this, you can replace port 25 with an alternate port 587 for SMTP, if port 25 is blocked.

Click OK and then Finish.

You will see the folders of your email account appear in outlook. See below.

You can now take advantage of outlook's smart features to manage and organize your mail box. You can create folders under your Inbox. You can even drag-and-drop mails from your server folders into physical folders existing in your local outlook client. When you do this, the mails will be removed from the server and will be permanently downloaded into your local computer.


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About the Author

Rajeev Kumar
CEO, Computer Solutions
Jamshedpur, India

Rajeev Kumar is the primary author of How2Lab. He is a B.Tech. from IIT Kanpur with several years of experience in IT education and Software development. He has taught a wide spectrum of people including fresh young talents, students of XLRI, industry professionals, and govt. officials.

Rajeev has founded Computer Solutions & WebServicesWorldwide.com, and has hands-on experience of building variety of web applications and portals, that include - SAAS based ERP & e-commerce systems, independent B2B, B2C, Matrimonial & Job portals, and many more.

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