Introduction to e-mail account types

You can get e-mail accounts from sources such as 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.), your employer, or Web services such as Yahoo! Mail, Google Gmail, and Windows Live Mail. Microsoft Outlook does not create or issue e-mail accounts. It only provides access to your e-mail accounts (e-mail account: The server name, user name, password, and e-mail address used by Outlook to connect to an e-mail service. You create the e-mail account in Outlook by using information provided by your administrator or Internet service provider (ISP).).

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About e-mail accounts

To send and receive e-mail messages with Microsoft Outlook, you need to add your e-mail account information to it. Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 supports Microsoft Exchange Server 2000, Microsoft Exchange Server 2003, Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, POP3 (POP3: A common protocol that is used to retrieve e-mail messages from an Internet e-mail server.), IMAP (IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol): Unlike Internet e-mail protocols such as POP3, IMAP creates folders on a server to store/organize messages for retrieval by other computers. You can read message headers only and select which messages to download.), and HTTP e-mail accounts. Your Internet service provider (ISP) or mail administrator can provide you with the configuration information that you need to manually set up your e-mail account in Office Outlook 2007.

For most accounts, Office Outlook 2007 can automatically detect and configure the account with a name, e-mail address, and password. Users of Microsoft Exchange accounts might not have to type any information because Office Outlook 2007 can identify the network credentials that are used to connect to the Exchange account.

E-mail accounts are contained in profiles. An e-mail profile is comprised of e-mail accounts, data files, and settings that contain information about where your e-mail is stored. A new profile is created automatically when you run Outlook for the first time. After that, the profile runs whenever you start Outlook. Most people need only one profile. However, sometimes you might find it useful to have more than one profile. For example, you might want one profile for work e-mail messages and another profile for messages in your personal e-mail account. Also, if other people use the same computer as you, each of their accounts and settings can be kept in separate profiles with different names.

 Note   For Microsoft Outlook Express or Microsoft Windows Mail users, profiles in Outlook are similar to identities. Outlook profiles have no relation to hardware and software profiles in the Microsoft Windows operating system.

Depending on your needs, you can add several e-mail accounts to a single Outlook user profile. For example, you can add an Exchange account to handle your business e-mail and then add an Internet e-mail account, such as a POP3 account from your ISP, to handle your personal e-mail. Profiles can contain all of your e-mail accounts, but there is a limit of one Exchange account per profile.

You can make changes within Outlook to e-mail accounts for the profile that you use. To change e-mail accounts in another profile, or to make changes to the properties of a profile, you must open the Mail Setup dialog box in Control Panel.

 Note   The Mail module in Control Panel will not appear unless you have Outlook installed and have run Outlook at least once.

E-mail account types

  • POP3     Post Office Protocol 3 (POP3) is the leading e-mail account type on the Internet. With a POP3 e-mail account, your e-mail messages are downloaded to your computer and then usually deleted from the mail server. The main disadvantage of POP3 accounts is the difficulty to save and view your messages on multiple computers. Also, messages that you send from one computer are not copied to the Sent Items folder on the other computers. There are some workarounds for these issues. For more information about working with POP3 accounts on multiple computers, see the links in the See Also section.
  • IMAP     With an Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) account, you have access to mail folders on the mail server, and you can store and process mail without downloading it to the computer that you are working on. Thus, you can use a different computer to read your messages wherever you are. IMAP can save you time because you can view the headers of your e-mail messages — who the message is from and the subject — and then choose to download only those messages that you are interested in reading. Your mail is saved on the mail server, which is usually safer, and is backed up by your mail administrator or ISP.
  • MAPI     Messaging Application Programming Interface or MAPI is used in Outlook with a mail server that is running Exchange. MAPI is a lot like IMAP, but it provides many more features when you use it from within Outlook with an Exchange account.
  • HTTP     These accounts use a Web protocol to view and send e-mail. HTTP accounts include Windows Live Mail. Outlook does not natively support HTTP accounts, but there are add-ins that allow you to use Outlook with certain providers. For example, Microsoft Outlook Live includes the MSN Connector for Outlook, which allows you to access your Windows Live Mail account from within Outlook. For more information about the MSN Connector, see the links in the See Also section.

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E-mail accounts at work

Exchange is designed for medium and large organizations and runs on one or more servers. You will commonly find this type of account in a medium or large organization, or in a large school environment.

With an Exchange account, each user has a mailbox (mailbox: Location on a Microsoft Exchange server where your e-mail is delivered. Your administrator sets up a mailbox for each user. If you designate a personal folder file as your e-mail delivery location, messages are routed to it from your mailbox.) on the server running Exchange. When you receive a new e-mail message, it is deposited in your mailbox. Outlook enables you to view and work with your messages by connecting to Exchange.

If you use an Exchange account, typically your e-mail messages, calendar, contacts, and other items are delivered to and stored in your mailbox on the server. When you install Outlook on a new computer and add your Exchange account information, all your items on the server are available to you from this computer as well.

Exchange accounts also allow you to work offline or use Cached Exchange Mode. For this purpose, local copies of your items are kept on your computer in an Offline Folder file (.ost) (Offline Folder file: The file on your hard disk that contains offline folders. The offline folder file has an .ost extension. You can create it automatically when you set up Outlook or when you first make a folder available offline.). The .ost file is regularly synchronized with the items on the server running Exchange when connected. Because your data remains on the server running Exchange, you can recreate this .ost file on a new computer without having to back up the .ost file.

To determine if you are using Cached Exchange Mode, do the following:

  1. On the Tools menu, click Account Settings.

ShowThe Account Settings command is missing

The Account Settings command is on the Tools menu in Office Outlook 2007. If you are using an earlier version of Outlook, the following instructions do not apply. Use the Help that is included with that product. If the title bar of the program that you are using displays Outlook Express, then you are using a program that is not the same as Outlook. See the Help in Outlook Express for assistance.

  1. On the E-mail tab, click the Exchange account, and then click Change.
  2. Under Microsoft Exchange Server, if the Use Cached Exchange Mode check box is selected, Cached Exchange Mode is turned on.

The following table illustrates how Exchange accounts work.

Outlook and Exchange in Online mode only Outlook and Exchange Offline Folders or Cached Exchange Mode
  1. New e-mail messages arrive in your mailbox on the server running Exchange.
  2. Outlook connects to the server running Exchange.
  3. There are multiple folders in your mailbox. You read your messages, but they remain on the server.
  4. When you delete an item in the message list, the message is deleted from the server running Exchange as well.
  1. New e-mail messages arrive in your mailbox on the server running Exchange.
  2. Outlook connects to the server running Exchange.
  3. There are multiple folders in your mailbox.
  4. Outlook copies items in specified folders locally so you can work offline. When the server isn't available, you can work with the local copy and synchronize with the server later.

If you are using Cached Exchange Mode, all folders are synchronized with a local copy that you always use. The server mailbox and your copy are kept synchronized.

  1. When you delete an item in the message list, the message is deleted from the local copy and the server running Exchange.


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E-mail accounts at home or in small organizations

At home or in smaller organizations, you probably use an Internet service provider (ISP) to connect you to the Internet and provide you with one or more e-mail accounts. The most common types of accounts are referred to by their Internet protocol name — POP3 and IMAP or just POP and IMAP. Your ISP can tell you which protocol you use to access your e-mail account, but POP3 is by far the most common. The POP3 and IMAP accounts differ in where your messages are saved ultimately.

The third account type, an HTTP or Web-based account, works similar to IMAP e-mail accounts. An example of this type of account is a Windows Live Mail account. With this type of e-mail account, messages are kept on the mail server until you delete them.

The following table illustrates how POP3, IMAP, and HTTP accounts work.

  1. New e-mail messages arrive in your mailbox on the POP3 mail server.
  2. Outlook connects to the POP3 mail server.
  3. There is just one folder in the mailbox named Inbox, and its contents are downloaded to Office Outlook 2007.
  4. The new items are saved to a Personal Folders file (.pst) on your computer.

 Note   If you have an Exchange account in your Outlook profile and it is your default delivery location, your new messages are saved to server running Exchange.

  1. Office Outlook 2007 issues a command to delete the items on the mail server that were downloaded.
  1. New e-mail messages arrive in your mailbox on the IMAP or HTTP mail server.
  2. Outlook connects to the IMAP or HTTP mail server.
  3. There can be multiple folders in the mailbox. Office Outlook 2007 checks the folders and downloads a count of and the headers of messages.
  4. When you select or open a message header, the full item is downloaded from the mail server with a copy saved to a Personal Folders file (.pst) on your computer.
  5. When you delete an item, the message appears with a strikethrough in the message list. When you use the Purge Deleted Items command, all messages marked for deletion are deleted from both the server and your local .pst file.


  • HTTP accounts work similar to IMAP in Outlook.
  • These descriptions are based upon default settings. Some customizations can change the behavior of e-mail account types.

If you use a POP3 e-mail account, your e-mail messages are downloaded from your POP3 e-mail server at your ISP to your computer and delivered to and stored locally in a Personal Folders file (.pst). The name of this file is a combination of the profile, Outlook, and e-mail account — for example, Default Outlook If you are using Windows Vista, the .pst file is saved in the drive:\user\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook folder. If you are using Microsoft Windows XP, the .pst file is saved in the drive:\Documents and Settings\user\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook folder.

 Note   The folder is hidden by default. To display the folder, in Control Panel, switch to Classic View, and then open Folder Options. On the View tab, under Advanced Settings, under Hidden files and folders, click Show hidden files and folders.

IMAP and HTTP accounts save your e-mail messages on a server. When you open an e-mail message, a copy of it is saved locally in a .pst file until you delete the message. As with any type of Outlook e-mail account, you can choose to archive or move messages to an archive .pst file. After you move the messages, you need to back up the .pst file. If you need a new installation of Outlook at a later time, you can use the backed up.pst file to get all your messages on the new installation. If you kept everything on the server, then after you use the Account Settings to set up your IMAP or HTTP account, all of the messages on the e-mail server will again be available to you in Outlook.

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Applies to:
Outlook 2007