Using POP3 and IMAP4 Email Programs

 

Applies to: Office 365 for professionals and small businesses, Office 365 for enterprises, Microsoft Exchange, Live@edu

Topic last modified: 2012-08-10

This topic provides information about how to connect to your email account by using email programs that use Post Office Protocol version 3 (POP3) or Internet Message Access Protocol version 4rev1 (IMAP4). POP3 and IMAP4 are Internet protocols that let you retrieve email from an email server to your computer. POP3 and IMAP4 email programs provide basic email functionality. Generally, though, connecting to your account using POP3 and IMAP4 doesn’t let you use the rich email and collaboration features that are provided when you connect using an Exchange account. For the best collaboration experience, we recommend that you connect to your account using Outlook Web App, or through an email program that supports Exchange account access such as Outlook 2007, Outlook 2010, Apple Mail 10.6 Snow Leopard, Apple Mail 10.7 Lion, Entourage 2008 Web Services Edition or Outlook for Mac 2011.

For information about the email and collaboration features supported by the various programs you can use to connect to your email account, see Supported Email Programs and Features. To review instructions for setting up email on your mobile phone, see Mobile Phone Setup Wizard. To review instructions for setting up email on your desktop email program, see E-Mail Setup Help Wizard.

Using POP3 Email Programs

By default, when POP3 email programs download email messages to your computer, the downloaded messages are removed from the server. Because a copy of each of your email messages isn't kept on the server, you can't access email messages that you've downloaded on more than one computer.

But some POP3 email programs can be set up to keep copies of your messages on the server so you can access the same email messages from more than one computer. POP3 email programs can only be used to download messages from the email server to a single folder (usually the Inbox) on your computer. The POP3 protocol can't synchronise multiple folders on the email server with multiple folders on your computer. POP3 also doesn't support public folder access.

Using IMAP4 Email Programs

Email programs that use IMAP4 are more flexible and generally offer more features than email programs that use POP3. By default, when IMAP4 email programs download email messages to your computer, a copy of downloaded messages remains on the server. Because a copy of your email is kept on the server, you can access the same message from more than one computer. With IMAP4 email, you can access and create multiple email folders on the server. You can then access any message from any folder on the server from computers in multiple locations.

For example, most IMAP4 email programs can be set up to keep a copy of your sent items on the server so that you can view your sent items from a different computer. IMAP4 supports additional features that aren't supported by most POP3 programs. For example, some IMAP4 programs include a feature that lets you view only the headers of your email messages on the server—who the message is from and the subject—and then download only the messages you want to read. IMAP4 also supports public folder access.

Send and Receive Options for POP3 and IMAP4 Email Programs

POP3 and IMAP4 email programs let you choose when to connect to the server to send and receive email. This section presents some common connectivity options and also provides some factors for you to consider when you select connection options in your POP3 and IMAP4 email program.

Common Configuration Settings

Three of the most common connection settings that can be set on a POP3 or IMAP4 email program are as follows:

  • Send and receive messages every time that you start the email program   When this setting is used, mail is only sent and received when you start the email program.

  • Send and receive messages manually   When this setting is used, messages are only sent and received when you click a "send and receive" option in the POP3 or IMAP4 email program.

  • Send and receive messages every set number of minutes   When this setting is used, your email program connects to the server every set number of minutes to send messages and download any new messages.

For information about how to set these settings for the email program you use, see the Help documentation provided with that email program.

noteNote:
If you have a cloud-based email account (for example, if your organisation is using Microsoft Office 365 for enterprises, Office 365 for professionals and small businesses or Live@edu), and you connect to your account using POP3 or IMAP4, Exchange meeting requests from email users in your organisation arrive in your Inbox as an email items with links to the Outlook Web App instances of the meeting requests. For more information, see "Why do meeting requests arrive in my Inbox as a mail items with links to the Outlook Web App instance of the meeting request? I would rather receive meeting requests as iCal attachments. Can this be changed?" in FAQs: Email Programs.
Considerations When You Choose Send and Receive Settings

If your device or computer that's running a POP3 or IMAP4 email program is always connected to the Internet, you may want to set the email program to send and receive messages every set number of minutes. Connecting to the server frequently helps keep your email program up-to-date with the most current information on the server. But if your device or computer running the POP3 or IMAP4 email program isn't always connected to the Internet (for example, if you connect to the Internet by using a dial-up connection), you may want to configure the email program to send and receive messages manually. Sending and receiving messages manually when you connect using dial-up can potentially reduce the time you're connected to the Internet.

POP3 and IMAP4 Programs

If your email account supports POP3 and IMAP4, you can use many different POP3 and IMAP4 email programs to connect to your account. These programs include Outlook, Windows Mail, Outlook Express, Entourage and third-party programs such as Mozilla Thunderbird and Eudora. The features supported by each email program vary. For information about the features offered by specific POP3 and IMAP4 email programs, see the documentation included with each program.

noteNote:
If you don't know if your email account supports POP3 and IMAP4, contact the person who manages your mailbox (sometimes called an email administrator).
Email Programs That Use POP3 or IMAP4

The following table lists some POP3 and IMAP4-compliant email programs.

 

Email program Supported operating systems

Microsoft Outlook 2010

Windows

Microsoft Outlook 2007

Windows

Microsoft Outlook Express

Windows

Microsoft Windows Live Mail 2011

Windows

Microsoft Windows Mail

Windows

Microsoft Entourage 2008

Macintosh

Mail (also known as Apple Mail 3.0)

Macintosh

Thunderbird

Windows/Macintosh

Pine

Windows/Macintosh

Alpine

Windows/Macintosh

Eudora

Windows/Macintosh

iPhone Mail

Macintosh

Amazon Kindle Fire Email

Kindle Fire

Windows Mobile Mail

Windows Mobile 5 or later

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