How do I get rid of deleted messages from my IMAP folders in Outlook?


About This Document:

  • This document provides instructions on how to configure Outlook 2003 with the most frequently requested how-to settings.
  • Using Outlook with IMAP is far better than using the POP3 protocol for many reasons, however, there are some limitations. The common limitations are listed.

Q: How do I get rid of deleted messages from my IMAP folders?

A: When you delete an email from your IMAP mail folders using Outlook, it still displays it but puts a line through it. These items are not deleted permanently until you purge your deleted messages and therefore still use up file space. Note: It is not possible to set Outlook to automatically purge your deleted messages.

  1. To permanently remove (purge) your deleted emails, choose Edit | Purge Deleted Messages.

To add the Purge Deleted Messages button to your Outlook toolbar:

  1. Choose View | Toolbars > Customize
  2. Choose the Commands tab and click on the Edit Category.
  3. Scroll down the commands list and select Purge Deleted Messages.
  4. Click and drag the Purge Deleted Messages button to the toolbar at the top of the screen and drop it next to the Delete button.

Q: How do I HIDE deleted items?

A: When you delete an email from your IMAP mail folders using Outlook, it still displays it but puts a line through it, however, you can hide these messages by performing the following:

  1. Choose View | Arrange By > Current View > Hide Messages Marked for Deletion
  2. Note that these items are not deleted permanently and therefore still use up space until they are deleted permanently.

Q: How do I GROUP deleted items?

A: When you delete an email from your IMAP mail folders using Outlook, it still displays it but puts a line through it. However, you can group these messages by performing the following:

  1. Choose View | Arrange By > Current View > Group Messages Marked for Deletion
  2. Note that these items are not deleted permanently and therefore still use up space until they are deleted permanently.

Q: How do I configure Outlook to download email message headers only or to download complete mail messages, including attachments?

A: If you are using a slow Internet connection (e.g., dialup), Outlook will load faster if you configure it to download the headers only. However, while in this mode, you will lose the ability to perform an advanced keyword search on your Inbox to look for text in the body of a message. Follow these steps to configure this setting:

  1. Select Tools > Send/Receive > Send/Receive Settings > Define Send/Receive Groups.
  2. The Send/Receive Groups dialog box appears.
  3. Click Edit.
  4. The Send/Receive Settings - All Accounts dialog box appears.
  5. Put check marks in the boxes of the folders under your IMAP account you wish to configure.
  6. Select the appropriate radio button for each folder to Download headers only or Download complete item including attachments.
  7. Click OK and then Close to close the open dialog boxes.
  8. Select the Send/Receive button to have Outlook process the change.

Q: How do I store my sent mail on the server?

A: By default, Outlook stores your sent mail in a folder called, "Sent Items". Also by default, these items are stored locally. Because of this, these mail messages will not be accessible from any other machine. If you want to store your sent mail on the server, follow these steps to configure an Outlook "rule". This rule will store your Outlook sent messages to a folder named "Sent Mail".

  1. In Outlook, select Tools > Rules and Alerts.
  2. The Rules and Alerts dialog box appears.
  3. Click New Rule.
  4. The Rules Wizard appears.
  5. Select the radio button to Start from a blank rule.
  6. Select Check messages after sending.
  7. Click Next.
  8. Select the checkbox next to uses the form name form.
  9. Select the underlined form name (under the Step 2 section).
  10. The Choose Forms dialog box appears.
  11. Select Application Forms from the pull down menu.
  12. Select Message, then click Add.
  13. The Message appears in the Selected Forms list.
  14. Click Close and then click Next.
  15. The instructions split into two options at this point:
    • Option A: saves messages to your Sent Mail folder when sent, however, the Sent Mail rule can become disabled without warning if a network interruption occurs. In this situation, NO COPIES OF YOUR SENT MAIL WILL BE SAVED.
      1. Select the checkbox next to move a copy to the specified folder.
      2. Under the Step 2 section, click on the specified folder.
      3. The Rules and Alerts dialog box appears.
      4. Select the Sent Mail folder located under your IMAP account.
      5. Click OK and then click Next.
      6. Click Next again to skip exceptions.
      7. Specify a name for this rule, such as "Sent Mail Rule."
      8. Click Finish, and then click OK.
    • Option B: permanently attaches your email address to the CC line of outgoing messages, and places the incoming message in your Sent Mail folder when received. These messages will appear in your inbox as if they were deleted messages, while a copy is placed in the Sent Mail folder.
      1. Select the checkbox next to Cc the message to people or distribution list.
      2. Under the Step 2 section, click on people or distribution list.
      3. The Rule Address dialog box appears.
      4. Enter your email address for Specify the addresses to be Cc'ed .
      5. Click OK and then click Next.
      6. Click Next again at the Select Exceptions dialog box.
      7. Specify a name for this rule, click Finish.
      8. Create a new rule for Outlook to follow for messages received in your Inbox with your email address on the Cc line.
      9. Click New Rule
      10. The Rules Wizard appears.
      11. Select the radio button to Start from a blank rule and then select Check messages when they arrive.
      12. Click Next.
      13. Select the checkbox next to from people or distribution list.
      14. Select the underlined people or distribution list (under the Step 2 section).
      15. Enter your email address in the From section.
      16. Click OK and then click Next.
      17. Select the checkbox next to move it to the specified folder.
      18. Under the Step 2 section, click on the specified folder.
      19. The Rules and Alerts dialog box appears.
      20. Select the Sent Mail folder located under your IMAP account.
      21. Click OK and then click Next.
      22. Click Next again to skip exceptions.
      23. Specify a name for this rule, such as "Move Messages on Receive", click Finish, and then click OK.

Q: How do I (can I) create additional folders on my IMAP account?

A: You can add new folders and new subfolders (except to the Inbox) to your IMAP Outlook client by performing the following steps:

  1. Click File | New > Folder, or hit Ctrl+Shift+E.
  2. Name the folder.
  3. Click OK.

Some common IMAP limitations to Consider when using Outlook:

  • You Cannot Store Non E-mail Folders on an IMAP Server
  • Due to limitations of the IMAP protocol, as well as for efficiency and interoperability concerns, Outlook does not allow non e-mail folder storage on an IMAP server.
  • You Cannot Store Non E-mail Special Folders on the IMAP Server
  • Your Sent Items, Drafts, and Deleted Items folders cannot reside on an IMAP server. Outlook requires that all special folders exist in the default store. IMAP cannot act as the default store because it cannot contain the non e-mail special folders.
  • Different Deletion Model
  • Deletion works through marking items for deletion, and then purging all items marked for deletion in a given folder. The source item is not immediately deleted due to the two-phase deletion model. This requires that you double the storage requirement for that message until you purge deleted items.
  • New Message Notifications
  • You receive a new message notification only if you have a persistent connection to the IMAP server. If you are using a dial-up connection to retrieve messages from the IMAP store, you do not receive a sound, the pointer does not change briefly, and the Envelope icon does not appear in the system tray.
  • Net Folders Do Not Function with IMAP
  • The Net Folders component depends upon the Rules Wizard, and therefore does not function when you use it with an IMAP e-mail server.
  • Contact Linking Does Not Function with IMAP
  • In Outlook, Contacts can contain activity information, such as messages received from a particular contact. This type of activity tracking cannot be linked to an IMAP store. To work around this, use the Rules Wizard to create a rule that moves all incoming messages from the IMAP Inbox to the Inbox of the personal folders (.pst) file. You can then track activities based on this Inbox.
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