This question isn't so much a how-to related to Outlook and IMAP but rather related to nuances of Outlook when doing IMAP email.

In Outlook 2010 we have just a single account set up via IMAP. No other accounts.

The first point of confusion for folks is that in the account hierarchy on the left there's the "Outlook Data File" section - it shows up on top. The Inbox, Junk-Email and some other things are NOT the same as the respective folders under the IMAP account section. Since the "Outlook Data File" piece is on top, folks go to that Inbox (as well as other folders) and get confused when they see no mail. The Outlook Data File section does not show if I have an Exchange account set up along side the IMAP account. Any way to hide the section or put it below the other one?

Related, can the various sections on the left (Favorites, Outlook Data File, the IMAP account) be set to default to open vs. closed?

The other non-IMAP vs. IMAP area of confusion is the "Junk E-mail" folder. With an Exchange account, Outlook does a nice job of detecting spam and putting it in Junk E-mail. With IMAP accounts it catches nothing. Should this folder work the same for IMAP?

Note that the IMAP server is not GMail, in case that makes a difference.


The issue is that Outlook need someplace to store the local items, such as your Tasks, your Calendars, Notes, etc. With IMAP mail servers, your mail lives on the IMAP server, and it can have it's own folder structure aside from the local folder structure. This is why you see both 'trees'. When you use Outlook with POP3 mail servers, POP3 functions differently; the mail is downloaded from the POP3 server and then stored in your local mail folders (and then usually deleted from the POP3 server). So you only ever see one 'tree'.

You mention that with Exchange you don't see the 'Outlook Data File', that's because Outlook works with the exchange server directly, and the Exchange server is your 'Outlook Data File'. That is, the Exchange server is the storage location for all our email, tasks, notes, calendar, etc. If you then add an IMAP account, you should see both the Exchange Mailbox and the IMAP folder structure similarly.

To answer your questions directly: I'm not sure if you can set whether various panes are hidden or shown by default; you might be able to accomplish this via Group Policies but I'm not sure. I suspect you would need to go to the individual machines and just do these things and then it will remember how you have things arranged. You can however remove the Data File version of 'Inbox' and other folders from the favorites and instead add the IMAP versions (they will look different though).

Regarding the Junk-Mail settings, there's a difference when you're using Exchange server. Exchange server itself is [generally] capable of handling junk mail, and it can scan and move mail into the junk mail folder without the intervention of Outlook. This is different than an IMAP server, again keeping in mind that your mail lives on the IMAP server, Outlook is not actively monitoring incoming mail for you. Instead, when you connect to the IMAP server, the IMAP server tells Outlook what mail is there waiting to be read. For the most part you would need to have some server side junk mail filtering going on to effectively deal with the junk.

I hope that helps, even though its probably not the answers you wanted.

  • Your answer is very complete and terrific. Regarding the local folders, I see what you mean. However if I have an Exchange connection and an IMAP account, why don't I see the Outlook Data File tree though? It's only when the IMAP connection exists alone that I see Outlook Data File tree - seems to me it should exist in either case. Regarding hiding that section I found itechtalk.com/thread10043.html but there's no "Close" option. Regarding Junk handling, please see my second comment. (Running out of characters.)
    – Matthew
    Nov 4 '10 at 16:18
  • (Continued...) Regarding Outlook's Junk Email handling, I've seen something different. My experience is that Junk Email folder is for spam which were not detected by the server-side protection and get through to Outlook. In this case Outlook will apply it's rules (at least when using an Exchange account) when it gets the email. I have Outlook running against exchange and I realized this when I installed Outlook on an additional machine. I'm using cached exchange mode so upon install, all mail from the server comes down to the local (continued...)
    – Matthew
    Nov 4 '10 at 16:20
  • (Continued...) .OST file. Mails that I'd previously marked as junk (or were detected as such) reappeared in the Junk Email folder since Outlook independently applies it's rules because the local client sees the email as a new message. The problem is that these rules aren't being applied when it's IMAP - even on the highest setting.
    – Matthew
    Nov 4 '10 at 16:21
  • 1
    When you're connected to Exchange, the Exchange mailbox (by default) replaces the Outlook data file. So while you could add one if you wanted, you wouldn't see one by default. All your mail, tasks, etc are stored on the exchange server. Regarding the Junk Mail: This gets a bit complex, particularly regarding different versions of Exchange, but Exchange has settings which can quarantine junk completely, or simply move it to the individuals Junk Mail folder, usually depending on SCL. But also, if you turn on the higher filtering levels in Outlook, it may filter itself. (cont) Nov 4 '10 at 20:36
  • But it would only filter email when it is delivered to Outlook; again since IMAP mail is not delivered to outlook, rather it is read from the IMAP server, Outlook wont apply the Junk Mail filtering to it. These comments are a difficult way to discuss this, so if you would like to discuss it further, feel free to email me at mark at warpool . org. Nov 4 '10 at 20:38

I have the same issue I think. I just have one single email account to check - and I want to use IMAP. However I also have two folder displayed: - The personal folder/account (which only supprts POP) - The IMAP account

As far as I have read in posts. Outlook is still very crappy in ways of IMAP. - No Outbox for IMAP -> everything ends up in the POP outobx - Can't hide the mail folders in the POP section ...

  • 1
    I agree, Outlook's IMAP support is not very polished. Thunderbird's is much better. Problem is I want to consolidate on Outlook so I'll just deal with the issues.
    – Matthew
    Nov 4 '10 at 16:32

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