Download POP3 email account headers and messages

When working with a POP3 (Post Office Protocol 3 (POP3): A common Internet protocol that is used to retrieve email messages from an Internet email server.) email account (email account: The server name, user name, password, and email address used by Outlook to connect to an email service. You set up the email account in Outlook by using information provided by your administrator or Internet service provider (ISP).), you can choose to download either email message headers (message header: Summary information that you download to your computer to determine whether to download, copy, or delete the entire message from the server. The header includes these fields: Subject, From, Received, Importance, Attachment, and Size.) or complete messages that includes attachments. After a message is downloaded from an email server, by default, that message is deleted on the server. This helps avoid the server storage limit imposed by your Internet service provider (ISP) (ISP: A business that provides access to the Internet for such things as electronic mail, chat rooms, or use of the World Wide Web. Some ISPs are multinational, offering access in many locations, while others are limited to a specific region.) or email service.

ShowHow do I know whether I am using a POP3 email account?

This article assumes that you have already added your POP3 email account to Microsoft Outlook.

  1. Click the File tab.
  2. Click Account Settings, and then click Account Settings.
  3. On the E-mail tab, in the Type column, look for POP/SMTP.

First downloading only the headers from your POP3 mail server is useful if you receive large messages. Based on the information in the headers, you can then selectively download complete messages. For example, when traveling, you might be using a slower connection and don’t want to download large messages or attachments.

What do you want to do?


Download headers

Message headers don’t contain the body of messages. You can choose to download only the headers for all messages, and then choose some messages to download immediately. Downloading the headers and only the messages that you want reduces connection time. After headers are downloaded, you can choose which messages, if any, to download or delete from the email server.

  • Download headers manually    
    • On the Send / Receive tab, in the Download group, click Download Headers.
  • Download headers automatically    
  1. On the Send / Receive tab, in the Send & Receive group, click Send/Receive Groups, and then click Define Send/Receive Groups.
  2. Under Group Name, select a group that contains your POP3 account.

 Note    If you haven’t created custom Send/Receive groups, select the All Accounts group.

  1. Click Edit.
  2. Under Folder Options, click Download headers only.

 Note    If you have more than one account in a Send/Receive group, and you want to download items completely for some accounts and only the headers for some others, create another Send/Receive group. In one of the Send/Receive groups, include all the accounts for which you want to download only the headers. In the other, include the accounts for which you want to download all the items completely.

When you download a header, Header indicator appears with the message listing.

Message header

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Mark messages to download or delete

After downloading the headers, you can do one of the following with each header:

  • Mark the message to be downloaded and removed from the email server.
  • Mark the message to be copied (and leave a copy on the server).
  • Delete the message from the server without downloading it.

After a message is downloaded from an email server, by default, that message is deleted on the server. When you copy your messages, a copy of the message is downloaded to your computer, but the message also remains on the server allowing you to download the message from another computer. When you delete the message in Outlook, it is deleted from your computer and from the server.

  • Mark the headers for messages to download and delete on the mail server    
    • In the Inbox, right-click the header, and then click Mark to Download Message(s).

An icon appears after you mark a header to download a message. The icon indicates that the next time that a send/receive occurs, the message are downloaded and removed from the mail server.

  • Mark the headers for messages to be copied from the server    
    • In the Inbox, right-click the header, and then click Mark to Download Message Copy.

Download message copy

After you mark a header to download a copy of the message, the Marked to download message copy icon appears.

The icon signifies that the next time that a send/receive occurs, a copy of the email message are downloaded to your computer.

Message to be downloaded

  • Mark the headers for messages to be deleted on the mail server    
    • In the Inbox, click the item to delete, and then press DELETE. A red X appears and the first line of the header displays in strikethrough text.

 Note    You can select multiple items for deletion by holding down CTRL while clicking the messages, and then clicking DELETE.

 Note    You can select multiple items for deletion by holding down CTRL while clicking the messages, and then clicking DELETE.

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Download messages

Do one of the following:

  • Get new messages manually    
    • On the Send / Receive tab, in the Send & Receive group, click Send/Receive Groups, point to the account, and then click Inbox.
  • Get new messages automatically    
  1. On the Send / Receive tab, in the Send & Receive group, click Send/Receive Groups, and then click Define Send/Receive Groups.
  2. Under Group Name, select a group that contains your POP3 email account, and then under Setting for group name, select the Schedule an automatic send/receive every n minutes check box, and then enter a number between 1 and 1440.

 Note    If you haven’t created custom Send/Receive groups, select the All Accounts group.

Your POP3 email server is checked and new messages downloaded according to the schedule that you choose.

By default, when a POP3 email account is added, complete items are downloaded that includes attachments, and then the item is deleted from the server. If you change this setting to retrieve only the headers, you can switch back to complete items.

  1. On the Send / Receive tab, in the Send & Receive group, click Send/Receive Groups, and then click Define Send/Receive Groups.
  2. Under Group Name, select a group that contains your POP3 email account.

 Note    If you haven’t created any custom Send/Receive groups, select the All Accounts group.

  1. Click Edit.
  2. Under Folder Options, select Download complete item including attachments.

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Delete messages on the email server

After a message is downloaded from an email server, by default, that message is deleted on the server. However, if you are only downloading message headers, or if you have turned on the Leave a copy of messages on the server option, the message remains on the mail server.

It isn’t required to download the message to delete it from the server. Message headers can be marked to indicate which messages should be deleted on the email server. This is useful when you recognize that a message can be deleted based on your review of the message header alone. The Mark messages to download or delete section in this article describes how to mark headers for deletion.

After a header is marked for deletion, do the following:

  1. Delete messages from your computer and from the server    
    • In the Inbox, click the item to delete, and then press DELETE. A red X appears and the first line of the header display appears in strikethrough text.

 Note    You can select multiple items for deletion by holding down CTRL while clicking the messages, and then clicking DELETE.

  1. On the Send / Receive tab, in the Server group, click Process Marked Headers.

When a message header is deleted, the header is deleted on your computer and the complete message is deleted from the server. No other computer or profile that you use can then retrieve the messages from the server.

 Note    If you move a header to another folder — either move it manually or by using a rule — and then mark the header, the header isn’t processed when you click Process Marked Headers. Only headers in the Inbox are processed.

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Applies to:
Outlook 2010