Outlook 2013 IMAP Troubles

Last reviewed on February 8, 2015   —  35 comments

After the latest round of Office 2013 updates, some IMAP users are reporting their Inbox is not listed in their profile, is empty, or their IMAP accounts aren't syncing.

This is the result of the November 12 updates, KB2837618 and KB2837643. In addition to the IMAP problems, Outlook may crash shortly after it starts, users with Exchange 2007 mailbox may have problems setting out of office replies, retrieving free/busy or using add-ins (such as Lync) that use the SMTP address property, due to problems with autodiscover.

If the only problem is with an IMAP account, I don't recommend uninstalling these updates as they add some IMAP improvements and you'll have a better IMAP "experience" with these updates installed. If Outlook is crashing or you use Exchange 2007, you'll probably want to uninstall the update.

If you have custom folders created in Outlook, confirm they are synced up to the server before changing the root folder. When you change the root folder, Outlook re-syncs the mailbox and folders that have not synced up will be lost if you don't have a backup copy.

There are two possible fixes for IMAP accounts. The first, and preferred, method is to add Inbox to the IMAP root.

To do this, go to File, Account Settings and double click on your affected IMAP account. Click More Settings button then switch to the Advanced tab.

In the Root folder path field type Inbox. Exit the dialog and perform a send and receive. (If the Inbox is not your root folder, setting Inbox as the root won't work, as it will hide all of the other folders.)

Set a root folder for the imap account

If that doesn't work, try disabling the option to show only subscribed IMAP folders.

Right click on the IMAP Inbox folder and choose IMAP folders. At the bottom of the dialog is an checkbox for When displaying hierarchy in Outlook, show only the subscribed folders. Remove the check then close the dialog to return to Outlook. Click Send and Receive.

Show subscribed imap folders

If the IMAP account still doesn't work, Outlook is crashing, or you connect to Exchange 2007, you need to uninstall the updates or revert to an earlier build of Office 2013.

If you are using a click-to-run version of Office 2013, follow these steps to roll back:

First, disable Updates:

  1. Start Word.
  2. Click File, and then click Account.
  3. In the Product Information column, click Update Options, and then click Disable Updates.

Go to Microsoft Office 2013 Click-to-Run virtualization to find the previous version number.

In the Start search field in Windows 7 or on the Start screen in Windows 8, type cmd. Right click on it on choose Run as Administrator.

If you have Office installed in a 32-bit version of Windows, type or paste this in the command prompt window:
cd %programfiles%\Microsoft Office 15\ClientX86

If you're using 64-bit version of Windows, use this command line
cd %programfiles%\Microsoft Office 15\ClientX64

Type or paste this command to revert to the previous product update, replacing the nnnn with the version number you want to revert to:
officec2rclient.exe /update user updatetoversion=15.0.nnnn.nnnn

Press Enter to begin the uninstall process.

Uninstall updates for volume licensing installations
To uninstall Office 2013 Volume licensing updates or Windows updates from Control Panel's Program and Features. Click on View Installed Updates, locate the update(s) and uninstall.

Click View Installed Updates to find and remove the updates

About Diane Poremsky

Diane Poremsky
A Microsoft Outlook Most Valuable Professional (MVP) since 1999, Diane is the author of several books, including Outlook 2013 Absolute Beginners Book. She also created video training CDs and online training classes for Microsoft Outlook. You can find her helping people online in Outlook Forums as well as in the Microsoft Answers and TechNet forums.

Please post long or more complicated questions at Outlook forums by Slipstick.com.

35 responses to “Outlook 2013 IMAP Troubles”

  1. m00tpoint

    Thank you! You just ended a hair-pulling bout of frustration! Too bad Microsoft apparently hasn't fixed these problems 5 months after you posted.

    1. pgm554

      There were these same bugs reported in October of 2013 and there were hotfixes and work arounds.
      I spent hours on the phone with M$ for these exact same issues then.

      And then they spacked and brought back the same bugs again.

      Are these folks just plain stupid or what?

      I just spent another couple of hours uninstalling 13 and backreving to 10 for a customer

      My customer accidentally accepted the patches that I had nixed for 13 and it broke imap again.

      Maybe Nadella should get his head out his @ss and quit wasting our time by constantly breaking the same things over and over.

  2. Mike Shephard

    I just upgraded to Office 365 and Outlook 2013 is exhibiting all of the lockup characteristics with my GMail account that have been so widely reported.

    The KB updates you mention above aren't installed on my laptop. I've tried the amendments you recommend and none have worked. As you say, setting Inbox as the Root Folder hides all of the other folders.

    Outlook continues to lock up every 5 to 10 minutes whilst synchronising a folder - it just freezes and permanently shows 'Synchronising xxxx'. I actually have to restart Outlook every 5 to 10 minutes to retrieve my emails.

    To rub salt into the wound, I missed an important email yesterday which caused me serious embarrassment with a potential customer.

    Since Office2010 worked fine with GMail and Office2013 doesn't, I think it's obvious where the problem lies. I really don't care whether it's a configuration issue or a bug that needs fixing - there must be thousands of IMAP email users who are affected by this.

    Microsoft - we need a solution NOW.

  3. Ana

    Thank you -- the second method worked for me. "Right click on the IMAP Inbox folder and choose IMAP folders. At the bottom of the dialog is an checkbox for When displaying hierarchy in Outlook, show only the subscribed folders. Remove the check then close the dialog to return to Outlook. Click Send and Receive."


  4. Jacque

    Thank you so much! You are a lifesaver! I had no problem after installing 8.1 and purchasing Office 365 until just a few days ago....then I stopped receiving emails for two of my five accounts that Outlook checks....couldn't figure it out until finding your post. THANK YOU!!! It's working now!

  5. MichaelO

    I can get my gmail messages but they are 12-24 hrs behind when they appear on Gmail. I've tried both the fixes through Outlook suggested here and they haven't worked. When I went to the KB2837618 page, it was pretty depressing to see all the things that can go wrong. . .plus then you install another update. . .then maybe you have to edit the registry. Good heavens. There ought to be a lemon law for software. . .imagine buying a car without a steering wheel or engine. . .that's what this is like--an email server that can't get instant communication emails for, well, who knows how long?

  6. David Worton

    It's a disgrace. I am thoroughly unimpressed with Outlook 2013. The email client was so much better in older versions of Office; the new interface is all over the place. I'm fed up with digging through obscure tabs and so called "advanced" buttons for essential functions which could have been consolidated into a single logical account editing entry form. Auto discover doesn't work even with Exchange on older versions of Exchange Server (just about excusable I suppose, but then at least make it easy for me to configure manually). Can't get to my work account at all, although all technologies are Microsoft. Email delivery for IMAP is possible but unreliable and this is THE core function (I know the servers are fine 'cos I get my emails on my iPad and eventually I get them on Outlook - maybe but who can tell when or why). Frankly I'd be better off with web mail. This is just a very, very, very poor release which ought never to have been let out of the testing suite....

    1. Diane Poremsky

      What version of exchange do you use at work? Outlook 2013 supports 2007 and newer.

      How frequently is outlook checking for new mail?

    2. Daniel M. Gold

      Take a look at the inexpensive product AddInTools for Office. It restores the old XP style menus. No more ribbons/tabs!

  7. Nick

    Diane, I abandoned Outlook 2013 for Outlook 2010 in the hope that Microsoft would fix the IMAP unreliability in 2013, and i am now thinking of returning to 2013. But HAS Microsoft taken to heart all the grief that the 2013 release has caused and have they re-engineered the way it handles IMAP?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      I wouldn't say "reengineered", but they have made some "improvements". Whether they address your issues, I can't say. You can install Office 2013 C2R (all Home and most business suites are C2R) along side Office 2010 and see if the things that didn't work for you were fixed.

  8. Nick

    Thanks. I'm having to do a complete reinstall after a Windows crash so I'll try 2013 again, though without much confidence! As a matter of interest are Microsoft aware of the severity of the IMAP problems?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      They know there are issues with IMAP. I'm not so sure they really understand imap though, it's been a problem in every Outlook version.

  9. JT

    I just tried your solution by adding "Inbox" and my Outlook 2013 first crashed and then does not want to launch any more. It seems to be in a continual mode of "loading profile"

    Would appreciate your input.


    1. Diane Poremsky

      Go to Control panel, find Mail (use the search field) and open it. Assuming this is your only profile or default profile, click Email Accounts then double click on your email account then More Settings and remove Inbox.

      Who is your imap account with?

    2. JT

      Thanks. It worked but now I can no longer see the folders under my main email account.

      All this is because I've been experiencing freezing of outlook with my IMAP email and delays in synchronization when I click on the "send/Receive" email and it has delays. It seems to be working better with clicking on "sync folders" but outlook still seems to be "temperamental" to say the least. I saw your suggestion for creating a .psd but I am not sure I got right since when I do that I no longer see folders.

      Thanks for the assistance.


    3. Diane Poremsky

      Did the problems start following an update earlier this month? If so, you need to uninstall the update.
      Steps are at http://support2.microsoft.com/kb/2770432

  10. Graham

    Not sure why some installations seem to work, then all of a sudden never do again. I have been told by a local Microsoft partner that the security patches have fixed a security problem in Outlook 2013 and Microsoft consider the resulting chaos with IMAP synchronisation to not be their problem. Nothing to fix, over to the email server providers. The email providers rightly point out that they can't have anything to fix as their platforms are stable - its a Microsoft problem. So - deadlock.
    I have tried numerous suggestions to fix the "broken" installations but once the synchronisation becomes a problem that seems to be it. Will try removing and "hiding" the patches, but as we all know, at some point MS will re-issue them and we'll be back to square one.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Disable automatic updates - you can skip a few months. Check the kb articles to see what each months update cover then decide if you want to try it again.

  11. Thomas Ste Marie

    I am having issue with Outlook 2013 receiving emails from Office 365. have it set up as a exchange account so I'm not sure the IMAP is the issue. I have two accounts that this just started happening to on July 10th so I know the issue is with Microsoft... I also have a new account with 2013 that won't set up the email account at all. Please someone, anyone have any suggestions?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      On the new account: what type of email account is it and what happens when you try to set it up?

      If you are using auto account setup, the exchange accounts are set up as Exchange accounts, but you can verify in File, Account Settings - the account type is listed to the right of the account name.

  12. Thomas Ste Marie

    This was an Exchange account and not an IMAP. I did a little checking and i believe the issue was with the CNAME on our website and needed to update the autodiscover. Not sure why it wasn't affecting the 2010 Outlook clients but it did take care of the issue. Thank you so much for your reply though

  13. daniel@duoconn.com

    Thanks for the good tip. Your way solved My outlook 2013 receive and send issue

  14. Drew Lambert

    when i type cd %programfiles%\Microsoft Office 15\ClientX86 in the command prompt window - it comes back and says "the system cannot find the path specified".

    1. Diane Poremsky

      what office suite do you have installed? Is Office at that location? If you paste %programfiles%\Microsoft Office 15\ClientX86 in the address bar of windows explorer, does it open the folder?

  15. Drew Lambert

    Hi - I have Microsoft Professional Plus 2013. When i paste the above into windows explorer - it comes back as nothing is found.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Is that a C2R install? You don't use that method to uninstall updates from the MSI version. You just need to go to add & remove programs and uninstall updates.

  16. Thomas

    Try this as it works for me.
    Click on Send/Receive Groups and Define Send/Receive Groups, Edit...
    Choose your Imap account, click on Use the custom behavior defined below and Inbox

  17. Ragnar Hanas

    I have tried all the above solutions without success. My problem is that the inbox suddenly one day stops downloading emails. It does synchronize, but nothing is added to the inbox. Other folders synchronize fine. If I setup a new account with the same details, it nicely starts to synchronize and download emails to the new inbox, beginning with the most recent ones. It seems lika a ost file size issue. Mine is close to 12 Gb, but this should not be a problem as I understand from other posts. I am using IMAP with Exchange and W8.1, and a pst file with old emails connected. I also have other problems with Outlook 2013, like draft emails not being saved properly, and not being deleted after the email is sent. I looked for the KB mentioned update, but it did not seem to be installed on my computer. No problems at all with Otlook 2010. I did a fresh install of 2013, not an upgrade. Any ideas?


    1. Diane Poremsky

      Who is your email provider? How many messages are in the inbox? I know there are issues with drafts in Gmail accounts but I thought it only affected gmail.

  18. Ragnar Hanas

    It is a Swedish provider, fsdata.se. I have 67000 emails in the inbox after having moved a similar number to a pst file. I had no problems with even larger number of emails in Outlook 2010. Drafts have been behaving strangely since the first installation. If I delete an open draft emai, I often get the error message that Outlook cannot find the mail. Several versions of the same email in different stages of editing are left in the Draft box after sending an emai.

  19. Gary

    GMail IMAP issues in Outlook 2013 and synchronization taking extremely long. Has MS come up with a fix yet since the Nov updates? Just wondering because I had a business client today who was extremely upset and began experiencing these problems last week.

  20. Omar


Leave a Reply

If the Post Comment button disappears, press your Tab key.

This site uses XenWord.