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How to Setup an IMAP account in Outlook Express to Connect to Your Arrowmail Mailbox

Why would you want to use Outlook Express?

If you have Microsoft Outlook installed on your PC you should use it, with an Outlook Anywhere connection to Exchange, as this synchronises calendar, contact and task data as well as email folders and provides the best overall email experience.
As an IMAP email client, Outlook Express is better than Outlook, which lacks auto-purge and keeps throwing up a timeout error, so Outlook Express comes a very good second-best to Outlook if you are only interested in synchronising your email folders and not all the other Personal Information Manager (PIM) data.

Here's a comparison table between Outlook and Outlook Express:-



Outlook with Outlook Anywhere

Outlook Express with IMAP


You buy it as part of Microsoft Office

Free - included with Windows

Items Synchronised:

Email, Contacts, Calendar, Tasks & Notes

Email Folders Only


Always Encrypted

Option to use encrypted IMAP

Firewall Friendly:

Uses TCP Port 443

Uses TCP Port 143 for normal and 993 for encrypted IMAP.

Uses Port 25 for sending email.

Bandwidth Usage:



CPU/Disk Usage:

Medium to Heavy


Supports FreeDocs:



By IMAP we really mean IMAP4, the latest Internet Message Access Protocol standard, and our servers also support IMAPS or Secure IMAP where data is encrypted, back and forth, between the server and the client.

Why would you want to use an IMAP account?

1 -

You haven't purchased Outlook which, unlike Outlook Express, isn't free

2 -

You're primarily interested in email and not the "personal organiser" features of Outlook

3 -

You have a different email client to Outlook and you'd prefer to keep using it

4 -

Perhaps you own a Mac or a Linux PC and don't want to use Microsoft software

I use Outlook for personal email and Outlook Express with IMAP for performing maintenance tasks on our mail servers because you can have lots of accounts setup, view raw email messages and Outlook Express operates faster than Outlook.

Accessing your mailbox using Outlook Anywhere on one PC and Outlook Express, using IMAP, on another PC works fine as each program will show exactly the same mail folders and emails.
You can even open FreeDocs in Outlook Express but can't add new FreeDoc files or save changes to any FreeDocs you've edited.

Step-by-Step Instructions to Setup an IMAP account in Outlook Express

From Outlook Express click on Tools - Accounts… - Add - Mail
Then enter your name in the box:-

Even if you usually use Outlook on your laptop, it's a good idea to also have your email account setup in Outlook Express for the times when you can only get a slow Internet connection.

Enter your name as it should appear in emails you send

It's not Microsoft being clever, it always says:-
For Example: John Smith

Click Next >

Enter your email address:-

Enter the email address you want your sent emails to appear to be from  

Click Next >

Select IMAP as the type of incoming mail server.
Enter as both the IMAP and SMTP server names:-

Enter the IMAP and SMTP server names

Click Next >

Enter your Arrowmail username and password.
Tick Remember password unless you have security worries about the PC you're using:-

Enter your Arrowmail username and password

Click Next > then Finish

On the Internet Accounts screen select the account you've just created and click Properties:-

Edit the properties of the account you've just created  

On the General tab change the account reference name to your email address.
This makes it easier to select this account if you have multiple account setup in Outlook Express.

It's also a good idea to fill in the Organization and Reply address lines:

Fill in the details on the General tab of the account properties page

On the Servers tab put a tick in My server requires authentication.
If you click on Settings… you'll find that the default option is:-
Use same settings as my incoming mail server
This is what we want so don't change it, just click OK

Don't select the Log on using Secure Password Authentication, there's an option to choose full encryption of both passwords and email content later, on the Advanced tab.

On the Servers tab select that the outgoing mail-server requires authentication

On the Connection tab make sure that the Always connect to this account using box is unticked.

There's nothing to do on the Security tab.

On the Advanced tab there are 2 boxes labelled:-
This server requires a secure connection (SSL)
The first box determines if outgoing emails are encrypted between your PC and our server and the second box determines if incoming emails are encrypted.
The Arrowmail servers supports both standard and encrypted connections in both directions.
Encryption uses slightly more bandwidth and may be blocked by your local firewall but if it works we recommend that you use it.
You'll notice that Standard IMAP uses TCP Port 143 while Encrypted IMAP uses port 993 to receive emails.
Standard and Encrypted SMTP both use TCP Port 25 to send emails:-

Select standard or encrypted IMAP and SMTP

There's nothing to do on the IMAP tab as the default settings are fine.

Click OK to return to the Internet Accounts window and then Close.
You should immediately be asked this question:-

Download a list of the folders in your mailbox

Click Yes

When the list of folders in your mailbox has been downloaded, you can select the ones you want to be visible.
The 4 folders shown below, with a symbol next to the folder name, are the ones that are visible by default.

Select a folder and use the Show and Hide buttons to change its visibility.
Some folders cannot be hidden.
Select the Visible tab to show just the visible folders:-

Select which folders you want to be visible

Click OK

The visible folders from the IMAP account are now shown in Outlook Express's main window.
Even though just one account is setup in Outlook Express, a set of Local Folders is always shown - click on the minus next to Local Folders to collapse them.

The IMAP folders shown in Outlook Express

If you ever want to change which folders are visible, or see new folders that you created using Outlook, right-click on the IMAP account name and choose IMAP Folders… to return to the Show/Hide IMAP Folders screen.

Right-click on the IMAP account name and choose IMAP Folders to change which folders are visible

You can right-click on each folder and choose which of the 4 different synchronization levels will apply to that folder.
We recommend the All Messages setting for most folders so you can continue to access the full contents of emails when you don't have an Internet connection.

For folders such as Deleted Items and Junk E-mail, we recommend Headers Only.

Choose the synchronization setting for each folder

Deleting Emails

To people new to IMAP, the way that emails are deleted can appear very strange.

With IMAP, deleting emails is a 2 step process:-


You "mark an email for deletion" by clicking "Delete" in Outlook Express, after which it's displayed with a strike-through line:-

Emails in Outlook Express IMAP account, shown with a strike-through line indicating that they have been marked for deletion

At this stage you can, if you wish, right-click on the email and select "undelete" to restore it.


You select Edit - Purge Deleted Messages from Outlook Express which causes the email to be deleted from the server and to disappear from your the mail folder in Outlook Express.


This 2-step process makes a sort-of sense as a way to let you to work off-line, but it's annoying.
The Mozilla Thunderbird email client combines the 2 processes into a simple Delete.

In Outlook Express, if you go to Tools - Options - Maintenance and select Purge deleted messages when leaving IMAP folders then the second Purge operation works automatically:-

Select the auto-purge option to automate the process of deleting emails  

With IMAP, there's no Deleted Items folder to give you a 2nd chance to recover emails you've deleted.
The 2 stage deletion process stops an accidental mouse-click deleting an email but, once emails have been "purged" from your Inbox they're gone for good.

Tips for Working with IMAP

Setting Which Folders are Visible
Unlike Outlook, an IMAP account doesn't automatically show all the folders in your mailbox and you can "hide" folders you don't want to see - this is a good thing.

If you create a new folder using Outlook or OWA it does not automatically show up in your  IMAP account until you've refreshed the folder list and set it to visible.
Similarly, a deleted folder still shows up in an IMAP folder tree until you refresh the folder list - you'll get an error message if you try to open a deleted folder.

Right-click on the IMAP account name and choose IMAP Folders then Reset List to see an updated list of all the folders in your mailbox and you can then choose which ones you want to be visible in Outlook Express's main screen.

Setting the Synchronization Level for each folder
Our recommendation is to set the Synchronization Level for all folders to All Messages except for Junk E-Mail, Deleted Items and busy Public Folders.
The reasoning is that if you don't download the full email message, then the body of an email will appear blank if you open it when you don't have a connection to the Internet and so to allow you to continue working with no Internet connection, you need the full email cached locally.
Downloading full items that you're never likely to read, slows down send and receive operations and uses more local hard drive space for the off-line cache.

Right-click on each folder and choose Synchronization Settings to set the synchronization level for that folder.


Is IMAP Insecure?

IMAP is one of those protocols that was invented when the Internet was still a friendly place with no requirement for encryption or other security measures.
Standard IMAP therefore sends your logon password and the contents of emails over the Internet without encryption.
It's still unlikely that anyone would be able to intercept and read this traffic between your PC and our servers.

Secure IMAP has now been devised which strongly encrypts all email traffic between your PC and our servers.
The Arrowmail servers fully support Standard and Secure IMAP and so does Outlook Express and most other email programs.
We therefore recommend that you use Secure IMAP.
It's possible that the firewall you're operating behind permits standard IMAP to pass but not Secure IMAP so you'll have to decide whether you want to lower your security.

With an IMAP account, the IMAP protocol is only used to receive emails and when you send an email from an IMAP account, you actually use the SMTP protocol.
Just like IMAP, standard SMTP is not encrypted but you can select to use Secure SMTP instead which Arrowmail and Outlook Express fully support.

As part of the Step-by-Step Instructions for setting up an IMAP account in Outlook Express, above, we show how to select Secure IMAP and SMTP.

If you use Secure IMAP and SMTP between your PC and our servers, this does not guarantee that your email will remain encrypted, end-to-end, from your Inbox right through to the recipient's Inbox.
When our servers send your emails to the recipient's server, we request an encrypted channel but our logs show us that, in the majority of cases, this is declined.
When an email has left our servers we have no control over whether it will be encrypted or not.

The only way to ensure end-to-end encryption for your emails is to pre-arrange this with all your correspondents and use Outlook Express's digital certificate feature or use a 3rd party program such as PGP.

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