Your IMAP Server Wants to Alert You...

Last reviewed on September 10, 2013   —  42 comments

Users report this problem: A box titled “Microsoft Office Outlook” comes up with an error message that there is a problem that the IMAP server. The error message says

Your IMAP server wants to alert you to the following: 124 (1032) That mail is not currently available.

The number 124 refers to message # 124; the (1032) is an error code.

The error message received from other IMAP servers may say

Can’t read Message 9876″ from IMAP Server

Where 9876 is the message number.

The error message is telling you that message number (or its attachment) is corrupted on the IMAP server.

The fix is simple: delete the message.

The problem: figuring out which message is the correct one. Numbering is based on arrival date – #124 is the 124th message you received. But, the messages are not renumbered when you delete messages so you can’t count messages so its not as easy to identify the messages as it could be.

In many cases, you can find the last message downloaded and the problem message is the next one. Log into the account online and delete the problem message. (The corrupt messages need to be deleted from the account online.)

You can try viewing each message in Outlook – the bad message should error when you try to view it. Or move all of the messages to a local folder in outlook and delete all from the server, then move them back to the IMAP inbox in outlook and resync with the server.

Note: You won’t get this error when you browse mail online using the AOL client or webmail as these only download the message when you click on it, while Outlook attempts to download all messages in the mailbox when it syncs with the server.

Method 1: Move all messages that are downloaded

In Outlook:

  1. Create a new folder. This can be in inside the IMAP root folder or in your local data file. (Right click on the root level folder and choose New folder.. it needs to be a Mail folder type.)
  2. Move all messages from your IMAP Inbox (or the folder that is generating the error) to this new folder. If you have a lot of messages, it may be faster to move 100 messages or so at a time. Select a message, hold Shift and select another message down the list to select the messages in groups. Drag to the new folder or use the Move to folder command to move them.

IN the IMAP account online:

  1. Log into your account using webmail.
  2. Go to your Inbox (or the folder that generated the error). There should only be a few messages in the folder. These are the “bad” messages you need to delete.
  3. Go to the trash folder or recently deleted folder in webmail and make sure you permanently delete the corrupted messages. This is very important – do not skip this step.

Back in Outlook;

  1. Move the messages back into the original folder (if desired).
  2. Once the messages are moved, you can delete the temp folder you created in Outlook.

Method 2: Search for 0 size messages

This method was suggested by Oscar.

  1. Open Advanced Find dialog. The keyboard shortcut is Ctrl+Shift+F or you can click in the search box and a new menu “Search” will open – you will see the button for Search Tools and then Advanced Find.
  2. In Advanced Find, click browse, and check all the folders (and subfolders) in the email account (You might be able to click the Search Subfolders dialog box, but it didn’t seem to work for me so I checked all the boxes). Hit OK
  3. On the More Choices tab, click the box that says Only items with one or more attachments. Do NOT click or add anything else.
  4. Click Find Now (on the right).
  5. Use advanced find dialog

  6. When all the emails have been displayed, sort by SIZE. You are only interested in the emails that show up with a size of 0 (zero). These emails will likely have attachments that add up to over 20MB. Delete them, and then delete them again from the trash bin.
  7. Close outlook and reopen it. Run Send/Receive All Folders and it should run without the error message.

Written by

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 Outlookforums.

42 responses to “Your IMAP Server Wants to Alert You...”

  1. Josh

    Hi Diane, How can I delete the desktop alert that I keep getting constantly when using Microsoft Outlook 2013 with the message: "Your IMAP server wants to alert you to the following: cannot remove system folder"

  2. Josh

    Hi Diane, Thanks for reply. I did take care of it. I'm using Go Daddy mail. I deleted the pst folder and when I added it back then the message is gone now.

  3. Josh

    Hi Diane, I need to know how to sync a folder (Templates) in my GoDaddy mail with my Outlook (Template - created) folder. The templates that I create in my Go Daddy mail and save in Templates folder are not showing in the Outlook (template-created) folder.

  4. Josh

    Yes its an IMAP account. I did that but still I couldn't see the templates made in the web-mail account show up in the outlook folder though they have the same name too. But the inbox, sent, trash folders all act normal.

  5. Eleanor Davis

    I have the same problem -How can I delete the desktop alert that I keep getting constantly when using Microsoft Outlook 2013 with the message: "Your IMAP server wants to alert you to the following: cannot remove system folder".

    I made this problem by dragging the bulk folder to my favorites and then deleting it to remove my mistake. Now the messages wount stop comming. What can I do to correct this?

  6. Don

    I've got an IMAP problem also. How can I delete the desktop alert that I keep getting constantly when using Microsoft Outlook 2013 with the message: "Your IMAP server wants to alert you to the following: Folders cannot be created in a system folder". I'm also using GoDaddy.

  7. Don

    I do this, and the only thing even close is: don@abeldetailing.com.ost
    It's identified as "Outlook Data File"
    There are no "Pst" files.
    I'm using win 7

  8. scott

    "Your IMAP server wants to alert you to the following: Cannot create - no write permission or out of disk space"
    What is the fix? This message will constantly come up as long Outlook is open. I am on my second profile my wife's computer is on it's fourth profile. A little tiring to reload all your email addresses that many times. We are both running 6 IMAP accounts and one Pop account from Outlook. We are hosted by Godaddy.

  9. Alexis M

    I'm getting the error message "Your IMAP server wants to alert you to the following: Email is too large, limit size to less than 20MB" When I checked, I did not see anything in my webmail that was close to being 20MB or over that amount. I use GoDaddy.com as my webmail.

  10. Alexis M

    I'm using Outlook 2013. I'm not trying to send a large attachment/email. It happens when I am syncing mail down from godaddy.

  11. Alexis M

    I am using Outlook 2013. I followed the instructions in the link from your above reply, and it worked! Thank you very much :)

  12. Chinmaya

    I have installed Office 2013 with Windows 8 Pro. The Outlook 2013 keep popping up notifications information “Your IMAP server wants to alert you to the following: Email is too large, limit size to less than 20MB“. The problem is, no new emails are being seen in the inbox and Send/receive process hang.

    Please reply ASAP
    Thanks in Advances

  13. Oscar C.

    I want to paste this solution that for me was excellent:

    You can see this solution in:

    http://support.godaddy.com/groups/email/forum/topic/imap-email-is-too-large-notification/?login=failed&topic_page=3&num=15

    lawyerman1000 said 2 days, 13 hours ago:

    Hi Everyone: I found a solution that worked for me – maybe it will work for you too. It is an Outlook issue (I am using Outlook 2013 and Windows 8) more so than a GoDaddy issue – and it occurs not just from sending emails – but also moving emails from folder to folder! That was my issue as I had nothing in my outbox or drafts or anything of that size.

    Here is the solution:

    1. Go to Outlook and run an Advanced Find. (Click in the search box and a new menu “Search” will open – you will see the button for Search Tools and then Advanced Find).

    2. In the new window “Advanced Find” – on the first line, click browse, and check all the folders (and subfolders) in the email account (You might be able to click the Search Subfolders dialog box, but it didn’t seem to work for me so I checked all the boxes). Hit OK

    3. Go to the second tab “More Choices” and only click the radio box that says “Only items with one or more attachments”. Do NOT click or add anything else.

    4. Click Find Now (on the right).

    5. When all the emails have been displayed, sort by SIZE. You are only interested in the emails that show up with a size of 0 (ZERO!!!!!). Open the emails and you will probably see that these emails have attachments that add up to over 20MB. Delete them – and then delete them again from the trash bin.

    6. Close outlook and reopen it. Run Send/Receive All Folders and it should run without the error message.

    7. Send me money later! :)

    Good luck.

    +++++++

    In my case I deleted all the mesages with size of 0 (Zero), and now I dont have any problem.

  14. Gene Ferraro

    Well Oscar C your lawyerman 1000 solution worked like a charm. Took only a few minutes and bang! problem solved. Lawyerman's instructions were clear and easy to use. Without the solution, I thought I was going to go out of my mind. Never knew Outlook even had a search tab. Pretty cool tools inside BTW. In any event, many thanks. Much appreciated.

  15. iowaNE

    lawyerman 1000---your solution worked!! THANK YOU!!! I have been searching all over and haven't been able to figure out how to fix the pop up message of IMAP message too large problem. That's exactly what I needed to do. Thanks for saving my sanity.

    Now, do you know how to merge all my email accounts into one inbox in Outlook 2013?? :-) I have several different email accounts and don't like having to go through each account separately to check my inbox. I'm using Windows 8 and Trying to get everything switched over to my new computer--taking me way longer than I had hoped. Thanks in advance for any help you have--especially if it's as easy as this was! :-)

  16. iowaNE

    I do not understand how to create the macros.... I am following a post by tinkertry.com to help with the step by step process and helpful pictures. (he noted your site on here as well, but I think he has more step by step details--which is what I need.) :-) I was trying to create my own “Inbox All” button in Outlook 2013 1) In Windows 8, use selfcert.exe to create a certificate. I keep getting an error prompt that says windows can't find the C:program. This is the way he said to make a certificate to make a Inbox folder before doing the macro command you had suggested. Are you familiar with this and have any help for me??
    Thanks!

  17. iowaNE

    I was getting it as soon as I pasted the selfcert.exe link in the search bar. However, I since found another way to work around this. After this not working for me, I went back in and switched all of my emails to POP3 instead of IMAP and was able to direct them one INBOX ALL folder. So, I don't know if it matters if emails are a POP3 or an IMAP, but switching them to a POP3 worked for me. BUT I had to go back and delete the IMAP email addresses from Outlook. Just glad I got them to go where I want them--all in one folder! THANKS for your help! I think I will be referring often to this site! :-)

  18. Mark

    The solution to this is very simple.
    1. Create a PST file and copy everything from this imap account into the PSC (don't forget calendar and contacts, as well as other items.
    2, When the imap account is empty close Outlook
    3. Navigate to [user profile]\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook and delete the .OST file associated with the imap account.
    4. Restart Outlook and copy all your items back from the PST you created.

  19. Josh

    I am getting the same server message. I am using go-daddy and outlook 2013 but I have no idea what folder its talking about. Also, I am not sure which pst file they are talking about to delete. Any help would be appreciated cause my wife is about to kill me cause the message keeps popping up

  20. Josh

    The above message is in regards to the imap alert cannot remove system folder.

  21. Josh

    There isn't a bulk mail folder and I don't know which folder it is talking about to delete. How can I figure out what folder it is and put something in it. And the data file associated with the account is an ost. file. Does this affect when you delete the file and outlook redo it?

  22. Debbie

    My name is Debbie and I keep getting the IMAP message "Your IMAP server wants to alert you to the following: 124 (1032) That mail is not currently available" I tried the search for 0 size messages and still receive the error. I have no idea how to correct this. I just recently purchased a Samsung Note 3 and I can't get the Outlook Calendar to match up either. Please advise how I can correct these issues, if possible. Thanks

  23. Gene Ferraro

    I followed the instructions on this page: http://www.slipstick.com/outlook/email/your-imap-server-wants-to-alert-you/. Try each of them. Follow them carefully. If unable to resolve seek a local technician with Outlook experience. A qualified expert will likely be able to assist remotely, greatly reducing your cost.

  24. Madhu

    Hi Diane, How can I delete the desktop alert that I keep getting constantly when using Microsoft Outlook 2013 with the message: "Your IMAP server wants to alert you to the following: cannot remove system folder". I don't know which system folder it is referring to.
    I want to import outlook 2007 pst file to outlook 2013. Do please help me ......Thanks

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