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How to change an account from POP to IMAP in Outlook 2016

Last updated: 09/01/2019

POP3 (Post Office Protocol 3) and IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) are the two main protocols used by applications to send and receive email. You can find out the differences between the two and which is best for your needs in the following article: What are the differences between POP3 and IMAP?

Should you decide you wish to change your Outlook email account from using a POP3 connection to an IMAP connection, you can do so using the following steps.

1. Back up your mailboxes

Switching from a POP3 connection to IMAP can result in your existing email being deleted, so you should create a backup of your mailboxes to avoid losing anything important.

  1. Open Outlook and select File. In the menu that appears, select Open & Export, then Import/Export
  2. In the Import and Export window that opens, select Export to a file and click Next >
  3. In the next window, Export to a File, select Outlook Data File (.pst) and click Next >
  4. You can now select the mailboxes you’d like to back up. We recommend that you back up all your mailboxes, so select your email address in the Export Outlook Data File window and ensure that the box next to Include subfolders is checked. Click Next > to continue.
  5. Use the Browse button to select a location on your computer for your backup. Click Finish to continue.
  6. To keep your backed-up emails secure, you can create an optional password for the file. Enter a password and click OK, or Cancel to proceed without.
  7. The backup will now be saved to your computer.

2. Delete your POP account from your computer

With the backup completed, you can now delete the POP account in Outlook. You should also delete the account on other devices you use for email.

  1. Select File from the top menu, then Info
  2. Click the small arrow next to Account Settings and select the Account Settings… option which pops up.
  3. In the Account Settings window, click on your email account and click Remove to delete it from Outlook
  4. You’ll be warned that your offline messages will be deleted. Click Yes to continue.

3. Set up your IMAP account on your computer

  1. In Outlook, go to File --> Info and click on the "+ Add Account" button
  2. Enter the email address of the account you are trying to add, click on Advanced options and tick the Let me set up my account manually tickbox. Then click on the Connect button
  3. On the next screen, click on IMAP
  4. On the next screen enter your password, then click on the Connect button.
  5. Outlook will now test your settings by attempting to send and receive a test email. If all went OK, Outlook will inform you that the account was successfully added. Click on the "Done" button.

This automated process did not allow you to set the incoming and outgoing email server addresses, which we will do now:

  1. Hold down the Windows key (this might be between the left Ctrl and Alt keys on your keybaord), and while holding that down, press the R key. A "Run" dialogue box appear. Type "Control panel" in the input field and press the Enter key.
  2. In Control Panel, if your view is set to "Category", click on the "User Accounts" title.
  3. Click on Mail (Microsoft Outlook 2016)
  4. In the dialogue box that has appeared, click on the Email Accounts... button
  5. Click once on the email account you are configuring, then click on Change...
  6. In the Incoming mail server field enter
  7. In the Outgoing mail server field enter
  8. Click on the More Settings... button
  9. Click on the Advanced tab
  10. For the Incoming server (IMAP) setting, ensure the port is set to 993. Use the dropdown menu next to Use the following type of encrypted connection to select "SSL/TLS".
  11. For the Outgoing server (SMTP) settings, ensure the port is set to 465. Use the dropdown menu next to Use the following type of encrypted connection to select "SSL/TLS".
  12. In the Folder section, in the Root folder path field, enter "Inbox"  (without the quotation marks)
  13. Switch to the Outgoing Server tab. Check the box next to My outgoing server (SMTP) requires authentication, then click the radio button next to Use same settings as my incoming mail server.
  14. Click OK to close the Internet E-mail Settings window, then Next > to proceed.
    Outlook will now test your email settings. If the test fails, retrace your steps, ensuring your server and account details have been entered correctly.
  15. Once the test completes successfully, click Close and then Finish to wrap up.

4. Restore your mailbox

If you wish to restore the mailboxes and email you backed up earlier...

  1. choose File from the top menu, then Open & Export. Now select Import/Export
  2. In the Import and Export Wizard window, select Import from another program or file and click Next >
  3. In the next window, Import a File, select Outlook Data File (.pst) and then Next >
  4. Now use the Browse button to navigate to your Outlook backup file. When restoring your email and mailboxes, you can use the radio buttons under Options to configure how Outlook treats duplicate items. Click Next > to continue.
  5. If you secured your backup with a password, you will be asked to enter it once again to authorize the import. Enter the password, then click OK.
    Finally, use the dropdown menu to select which folder you’d like to restore your data into and click Finish to complete.