Using IMAP account in MS Outlook 2010: The Dos and Don'ts

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Microsoft Outlook is a powerful and well-loved email program. With the later versions like 2007, 2010 and 2013, integration of email accounts using IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) is done easily and with less configuration for the email account to work with Outlook.

Outlook 2010 settings and configurations

What is IMAP?

IMAP is a protocol for emails that allow email clients or email program a two-way communication path between the email client and the IMAP server. It is opposite to its counterpart, POP, which only allows a one-way communication between the email client/program and the email server.

With POP, your email program like MS Outlook or any other will only ask data and download those data from the email server. Things you do with your email program, like deleting the emails, creating email folders or moving your emails from one folder to another, do not affect the data on the email server.

With IMAP, the email program downloads the emails from the email server. But things you do in your email program, like moving or deleting emails, will be synced to the email server. In short, your email program retrieves data (emails) from the email server and it also sends data to the email server. Thus a two-way communication path.

Things to Consider When Using IMAP in Outlook 2010

In Outlook 2010, there are certain settings that affect you when you are using an IMAP account.

Deleted emails are NOT deleted

You might notice that when you delete an email, they are NOT deleted right away. Instead, they just have strikethrough in them. What is happening?

The reason for this is because Outlook only marked these emails for deletion. They are actually not yet deleted. This is to avoid accidental deletion of emails since when these email are deleted in Outlook, they will also be deleted from your email server when Outlook syncs then changes to the server.

How to finally delete the emails then? The answer is to PURGE deleted emails.

To purge emailds marked for deletion in Outlook 2010:

  1. Open Outlook 2010
  2. Click on the Folder menu
  3. Then under the "Cleanup" group, click on Purge command.
    The PURGE command in Outlook 2010

Purge Settings You Can Choose From

By default, Outlook 2010 put a strikethrough when you delete an email. This is it way to "mark" and email for deletion. After they are marked for deletion, you can then purge then to finally delete them.

However, if you want to immediately delete the emails when you delete them, or somehow avoid the extra clicking of the PURGE command to finally delete marked emails, there is also a setting for that. But be careful, since when emails are deleted from Outlook, they are also deleted from your email server.

Delete Marked Emails Automatically

  1. Open Outlook 2010
  2. Click on Folder
  3. Under the Clean Up group, locate the PURGE command
  4. Click on the small down-arrow below the PURGE command and then click on Purge Options
    Outlook 2010 Purge Options
  5. In the dialog box that appears, check the option that says "Purge items when switching folders when online".
    Automatically purge marked emails

Cleaning Up with All Strikethroughs

Now, your other option is NOT to automatically delete those emails marked for deletion to accidental avoid loss of data. If you are annoyed with all those strikethoughs in your emails, you can simply hide them from view.

Here are the steps:

  1. Open Outlook 2010
  2. Click on the View menu
  3. In the Current View group, click on Change View
  4. In the drop down menu, click on Hide Messages Marked for Deletion
    Option to hide emails marked for deletion in Outlook 2010


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