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I'm helping a user with Outlook 2010. They have a large mailbox that they want to sync over IMAP, but we want to not sync the whole thing in order to keep Outlook performing well. A lot of email clients (especially those on smartphones) allow you to say "Only sync the past .... days" where you can choose a week, a month, two months, etc. Does Outlook allow for this, or is there any way that I can fake the functionality?

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4 Answers 4

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There is no way I know of to do that. You can only choose to download headers, or full e-mails (HIGHLY recommended in my opinion). I would also recommend that you teach users to not store too many items in one folder, since that seems to affect performance. In general, for IMAP, it is just slow with larger mailboxes.

Ultimately, if you want excellent performance with large mailboxes, and quick synchronization times, I can't recommend hosted Exchange enough. I have multiple clients using it, including a lawyer's office where they must keep everything, and it performs extremely well. Some of the users have as much as 12GB of mail, and it synchronizes header changes in seconds from a server 3000 miles away....only after that does it pull the bodies and attachments.

If you do choose to go this route, come back and I can offer some concrete advice on how to make the move, because I encountered numerous pitfalls the first time I went from IMAP to hosted Exchange, including who I would go with and why.

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OK, thanks for the help. We actually use Google Apps for Business, so our users have access to Gmail, but this user just prefers Outlook. I'm going to go the "teach users to have small folders" route, because currently all of his mail is in one box- the inbox. I'll archive all of his mail and set Outlook to not sync Gmail's "All Mail" folder. –  John Jun 17 '11 at 14:11
@John I was going to mention archiving too, but thought that was a bit obvious. –  KCotreau Jun 17 '11 at 14:30

You can specify a number of latest messages to sync in Gmail > Settings > Forwarding and POP/IMAP > Limit IMAP folders to contain no more than this many messages > set desired number.

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Since you're using Gmail, you might consider the Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook. It lets you set a hard mailbox size limit for Outlook. For example, if you set the limit to 1 GB, the Sync tool will begin removing older messages when you hit the limit (the emails are still available in Gmail though!)

More on this:

Download here:

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I dealt a bit differently with the same issue, where a user wants to use Outlook with Google Apps for Business. You can just go to Gmail settings and under "Forwarding and POP/IMAP" tab, change option "Limit IMAP folders to contain no more than this many messages" to 1000 (which is the lowest number). This will make Outlook download only 1000 latest emails. It works without a problem.

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Does this limit the number of emails stored in the folder on Gmail's side, or only on Outlook's side? I remember seeing this option when I was investigating the issue for the first time, but I did not understand that it applied the limit to only Outlook and not Gmail as well. –  John Apr 26 '12 at 8:13

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