Convert from an IMAP account to POP3

After reinstalling my computer and reconfiguring Outlook, my account got configured automatically as an IMAP account.

I’ve tried this for a while, but due to some features not being available for IMAP accounts and my small on-line mailbox, I’d much rather have it configured as a POP3 account again.

How can I convert my account from IMAP back to POP3?

Convert IMAP to POP3 Account buttonOutlook’s Auto Account Setup will indeed first try to configure your web mail account as an IMAP account. So when your mailbox supports both IMAP and POP3 connections, it will get configured as an IMAP account.

While you cannot directly “convert” your existing IMAP account to a POP3 account, it is still a relatively simple process consisting out of the following steps:

  1. Add your POP3 account.
  2. Transfer your mail folders.
  3. Optionally; Export and import your message rules.
  4. Remove your current IMAP account.

Step 1: Add your POP3 account

POP3 Account buttonAdding your POP3 account can be done via the Account Settings dialog;

  • Outlook 2007
    Tools-> Account Settings…-> button: New…
  • Outlook 2010, Outlook 2013 and Outlook 2016
    File-> section Info-> Account Settings-> Account Settings…-> New…
  • Outlook as part of Office 365
    The new setup wizard doesn’t allow you to add the same account twice. You can still do so however when you use the Mail applet;
    1. File-> section Info-> Account Settings-> Manage Profiles
    2. Close Outlook.
    3. In the dialog that opens choose: Email Accounts…
    4. On the Email tab, press the New… button.

You can use the “Auto Account Setup” wizard where you only need to fill out your name, email address and password and Outlook will try to find the settings needed for your account. If this fails or if it finds the IMAP settings, you can use the option “Manually configure server settings or additional server types”.

When setting up the POP3 account manually, make sure you have the server configuration details at hand. You can ask your email provider for the needed settings if you don’t have these.

The server settings for the major free email providers can be found in the guide; Configure Outlook with an Outlook.com (Hotmail), Gmail, Office 365, Yahoo, AOL or iCloud account

Setting up an account manually makes sure you’ll configure it as a POP3 instead of an IMAP account.
Setting up an account manually makes sure you’ll
configure it as a POP3 instead of an IMAP account.

Extra Tip: Upon configuring your POP3 account, set it to leave a copy on the server for at least a couple of days.

Step 2: Transfer your mail folders

Move buttonAfter adding your account as a POP3 account, you’ll notice that all the emails that are in the Inbox folder of your IMAP account get downloaded. Any subfolders that you might have and your Sent Items folder won’t be downloaded because POP3 only supports downloading from the main mailbox folder (Inbox).

To transfer your data, simply select the messages or folders that you want to have in your POP3 mailbox and initiate a copy or move command or use the drag & drop method. If you drag & drop mails or folders via your right mouse button, you’ll get an option to either move or copy the selected items.

Note: You cannot move or copy the Inbox or Sent Items folders since these are special folders. To move across these items, you’ll have to select the messages instead of the folder.

When dragging and dropping via the right mouse button in Outlook, you'll get the option to either copy or move the selected items or folders.
Right button drag & drop menu.

To keep the read/unread/replied/forwarded status of messages that are in your IMAP Inbox, you can first empty the Inbox folder of your POP3 account to prevent duplicates.

If you are using Outlook 2013 or Outlook 2016, you must also move any data from the local non-mail folders such as Calendar, Contacts and Tasks before removing your account. To move (don’t copy!) your Calendar items, it is best that you switch your view to a List View first.

Step 3: Export and import your message rules (optional)

Manage Rules & Alerts buttonWhen you have any message rules configured for your IMAP account, and you want to use these for your POP3 account as well, it is recommended to export your rules before you remove your IMAP account.

For certain configurations, the rules for a specific account could be deleted when you remove the account. When you export them and then later notice that you’ve lost them, you can easily import them again. After importing the rules, you must reselect the folder for any rule with the “move to folder” action.

For step-by-step instructions to backup and restore your message rules see; Import/Export message rules.

Step 4: Remove your current IMAP account

Remove Account buttonOnce all your data has been copied to your POP3 mailbox, you can safely remove your IMAP account via the Account Settings dialog which you also accessed in Step 1.

When you use Outlook 2013 or Outlook 2016, make sure you first set the pst-file of the POP3 account as default store before attempting to remove the IMAP account. You can set this on the “Data Files” tab, by selecting your POP3 mailbox store (pst-file) and then clicking on “Set as Default”.

Changing the default mailbox store from the IMAP account to the POP3 account will require you to restart Outlook. After the restart, go back to the Account Settings dialog and remove the IMAP account.