Windows Mail IMAP accounts: frequently asked questions

Here are answers to some common questions about Windows Mail IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) accounts.

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How are IMAP e‑mail accounts different from traditional e‑mail accounts?

IMAP e‑mail accounts offer a number of advantages over traditional Post Office Protocol (POP3) e‑mail accounts, including:

  • The ability to manage your inbox and other e‑mail folders directly on your e‑mail server.

  • The ability to quickly view message headers without downloading the bodies of the messages.

  • Better support for accessing your messages from multiple locations. If you access your IMAP e‑mail while at work, for example, you can easily access the same messages from home later. With a POP3 account, e‑mail is typically deleted from the server once it's retrieved, making e‑mail management more difficult when you access your inbox from more than one computer.

  • The security of knowing your e‑mail is stored on a remote server if something happens to your computer.

  • Advanced features, such as the ability for multiple users to access the same mailbox simultaneously.

Can I specify which messages are downloaded when I check my e‑mail so that they're available for offline viewing?

Yes. You can choose whether all messages, only new messages, only message headers, or no messages at all are downloaded and available for offline viewing.

To specify which messages are downloaded when checking e‑mail

  1. Open Windows Mail by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking All Programs, and then clicking Windows Mail.

  2. Make sure that you're connected to the Internet, and then click an IMAP account in the Folders list.

  3. In the main window, select one or more folders.

  4. Click Settings, and then do one of the following:

    • To download all messages, click All Messages.

    • To download only new messages, click New Messages Only.

    • To download only headers, click Headers Only.

    • To download no messages, click Don't Synchronize.

You can also specify which folders you download e‑mail from. For more information, see Get e‑mail from specific IMAP folders.

Can I create message rules for IMAP accounts?

No, Windows Mail only supports using rules for POP3 e‑mail messages.

When I delete an IMAP message, why isn't it deleted right away from my IMAP mailbox?

A deleted IMAP message isn't actually removed from the message list when you click Delete. Instead, it appears with a strikethrough in the message list to indicate it's marked for deletion. To permanently remove messages that have been marked for deletion from your computer, click the Edit menu, and then click Purge Deleted Messages. After deleted messages have been purged, they can no longer be recovered. To undelete a message marked for deletion, click the message, click the Edit menu, and then click Undelete. For more information, see Delete messages in Windows Mail.

How do I point my IMAP e‑mail server to the location where my IMAP mailbox is stored?

Most e‑mail servers handle this automatically, but some servers might require that you point them to the location where your mailbox is stored (sometimes referred to as "setting the path").

To set the IMAP mailbox path

  1. Open Windows Mail by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking All Programs, and then clicking Windows Mail.

  2. Click the Tools menu, and then click Accounts.

  3. Select your IMAP server from the list of accounts.

  4. Click Properties, and then click the IMAP tab.

  5. In the Root folder path box, type the path to your mailbox. Do not end this path with a slash (/) or it won't work. (For example, a root folder path in the form of ~username/Mail is valid, but ~username/Mail/ is not.)


  • If your IMAP server is a Cyrus server, your e‑mail folder must be contained in the Inbox folder. If your IMAP server is UNIX-based, your e‑mail folder is usually stored within the home folder for your user account (such as ~username/Mail).