Your IMAP Server Wants to Alert You...

Last reviewed on September 10, 2013

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.

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