Read POP3 email messages on multiple computers

By default, when you retrieve new messages from a POP3 (POP3: A common protocol that is used to retrieve e-mail messages from an Internet e-mail server.) email account (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).), the messages are deleted from the POP3 mail server and then saved on the computer that you are using. Because the message is no longer on the POP3 mail server, you can’t see it when you connect from another computer.

To view your messages from different computers, you can choose to download a copy of new email messages and not delete them from the POP3 mail server.

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Download, but don’t remove your messages on the POP3 mail server

Downloading a copy of your messages can be useful if you check your POP3 email account from multiple profiles or computers. For example, you can download a copy of the messages on both your work and home computers and then delete them from the POP3 mail server.

 Note   Email messages that you send are saved in the Sent Items folder in Outlook only on the computer from which they are sent. You can’t access the Sent Items folder of one computer from your other computers that run Outlook. Consider including your email address in the Bcc box so that you can download the messages that you send on another computer.


Multiple computers downloading POP3 e-mail messages

Callout 1 When you connect to your POP3 mail server from your portable computer, a copy of your new email messages is downloaded to Outlook.
Callout 2 When you connect from your work computer, a copy of your new email messages is downloaded to Outlook.
Callout 3 When you connect from your home computer, a copy of your new email messages is downloaded to Outlook.
Callout 4 Because the Leave a copy of messages on the server check box isn’t selected in Outlook on your home computer, a command is sent from Outlook to the POP3 mail server instructing it to delete downloaded messages. No other copy of Outlook can download these messages from the POP3 mail server.

On each computer where you want to read your email messages but not save them permanently, do the following:

  1. Click the File tab.
  2. Click Account Settings, and then click Account Settings.

Account Settings in the Backstage view

  1. On the E-mail tab, under Name, select the POP3 email account, and then click Change.
  2. Click More Settings.
  3. On the Advanced tab, and then under Delivery, select the Leave a copy of messages on the server check box.

Delivery section on the Advanced tab of the Internet E-mail Settings dialog box

You can also select whether to automatically delete messages from your email server after a specified number of days, when you delete the item on your computer, or when the Deleted Items folder is emptied. These settings might help prevent you from exceeding the maximum mailbox size set 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.).

  1. 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.

Keyboard shortcut  To open the Send/Receive Groups dialog box, press CTRL+ALT+S.

  1. 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. Enter a number between 1 and 1440. The latter number schedules an automatic send/receive one time daily.

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

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

 Note   Most ISPs have a size limit on your POP3 mailbox. If you don’t delete items from the server, your account will eventually exceed the amount allocated by your ISP. This could prevent additional messages from being received, and you can possibly incur additional charges. For more information, contact your ISP.

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Download messages and delete them from the POP3 mail server

On the computer where you want to save the email messages, configure Outlook to download the messages and delete them from the mail server. This is the default behavior of POP3 accounts in Outlook. After you check your email messages, the other computers will no longer be able to download the messages.

  1. If you haven’t added the POP3 account to the Outlook profile, see the topic Add or remove an email account, then return to these steps.
  2. 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.

Keyboard shortcut  To open the Send/Receive Groups dialog box, press CTRL+ALT+S.

  1. 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. Enter a number between 1 and 1440. The latter number schedules an automatic send/receive one time daily.

 Note   If you haven’t created any 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 specified.

 Tip   If you want to access new messages on any computer, an alternative is to follow the steps to download a copy of the messages and leave them on the POP3 server on all of your computers. When you select the Leave a copy of messages on the server check box, also select the Remove from server after n days check box. This allows you to check your mail from any computer within the specified number of days. Mail is deleted from the POP3 mail server after the time limit is exceeded.

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Applies to:
Outlook 2010