Accessing Outlook accounts from multiple computers

RBLampert

Senior Member
Outlook version
Outlook 2019 64-bit
Email Account
POP3
This seems like it ought to be easy to set up, but it has proven to be anything but.

I use a desktop computer at home and a laptop when I travel. Both have Office 365 installed, including Outlook 365, and full access to the same 1 TB of storage on OneDrive that comes with the subscription. I want to be able to access my multiple e-mail accounts (some hosted by my personal web site, some on Gmail), managed by Outlook, from either device and be confident that I have access to all the same new e-mails and all the same folders for saved e-mails, and be sure that any e-mails I send from the laptop will be accessible when I use the desktop again.

The logical thing to do seemed to be to put all of the .pst files on OneDrive, but Microsoft's OneDrive tech support argued against that, saying that there would be significant delays in getting the files synchronized. I didn't think it would be that big a problem until I tried it. The very smallest file I have (265K) still took HOURS to sync after I closed Outlook. So I tried the very same file on Dropbox. Same result. What the heck?

I noticed Diane Poremsky's post about Altsync, but no one's responded to it in the 4+ years since it was posted. Is anyone using it? Does it work?

Surely I'm not the only person who wants to do, or IS doing, what I want to do. What's the solution?

BTW, I'm running the latest version of 64-bit Windows 10 as well as Office 365.
 

Diane Poremsky

Senior Member
Outlook version
Outlook 2016 32 bit
Email Account
Office 365 Exchange
The logical thing to do seemed to be to put all of the .pst files on OneDrive, but Microsoft's OneDrive tech support argued against that,
he was right. Don't do it. The problem is that the cloud services try to sync constantly and outlook has a lock on the pst when its open so the syncs fail. You may end up with a ton of temp files filling up the space.

Gmail, IMAP and Outlook.com/Exchange accounts are not problem - mail is stored on the server and syncs to outlook. Only POP accounts will be a problem - if you can use IMAP it would be better. Yes, IMAP takes some getting used to, but for the most part, its better. (It does not support flags and categories though.)
 

RBLampert

Senior Member
Outlook version
Outlook 2019 64-bit
Email Account
POP3
he was right. Don't do it. The problem is that the cloud services try to sync constantly and outlook has a lock on the pst when its open so the syncs fail. You may end up with a ton of temp files filling up the space.

Gmail, IMAP and Outlook.com/Exchange accounts are not problem - mail is stored on the server and syncs to outlook. Only POP accounts will be a problem - if you can use IMAP it would be better. Yes, IMAP takes some getting used to, but for the most part, its better. (It does not support flags and categories though.)
Thanks, Diane. That's really disappointing. You'd think Microsoft would have anticipated there would be people who would want to do what I want to and would have allowed Outlook to work with or around the way cloud services work.

Some of my Outlook accounts used to use the IMAP protocol, so switching back to them wouldn't be all that hard, once I can find my cheat-sheet with the proper port numbers and other settings. However, I was advised (by Google/Gmail?) to use POP instead of IMAP if I wanted to access the accounts from more than one computer to avoid data loss/conflict problems.

But even doing that doesn't address the fundamental problem: how can I--or can I at all--access those accounts via Outlook from two separate computers and keep everything synchronized? Is my home network the answer somehow?

To date, I've been stuck using Gmail directly and my web site's webmail when I'm on the road, and that invariably leads to e-mails not making into Outlook. That's not acceptable. Suggestions?
 

Vincenzo

Senior Member
Outlook version
Outlook 2010 32 bit
Email Account
IMAP
The way I understand it, what you are desiring to do is the reason that IMAP was created. I use it just like you are describing and have no problem. But I have not created subfolders (in IMAP, but I have in my Hotmail account and they sync no problem) but I believe that if you create the subfolders in the Inbox they will appear on the other computer. I'll create a subfolder now and see if it syncs.
Unfortunately I cannot address your Gmail issue, but I never heard of a problem with gmail and IMAP.
 

Diane Poremsky

Senior Member
Outlook version
Outlook 2016 32 bit
Email Account
Office 365 Exchange
However, I was advised (by Google/Gmail?) to use POP instead of IMAP if I wanted to access the accounts from more than one computer to avoid data loss/conflict problems.
That's weird - IMAP is prefered for multi-access because changes on one are reflected on all.


But even doing that doesn't address the fundamental problem: how can I--or can I at all--access those accounts via Outlook from two separate computers and keep everything synchronized? Is my home network the answer somehow?
This is the scenario IMAP was developed for and why comcast and others who used to only offer pop, switched to IMAP.
 

Diane Poremsky

Senior Member
Outlook version
Outlook 2016 32 bit
Email Account
Office 365 Exchange
if you create the subfolders in the Inbox they will appear on the other computer. I'll create a subfolder now and see if it syncs.
Unfortunately I cannot address your Gmail issue, but I never heard of a problem with gmail and IMAP.
There are two ways IMAP accounts handle folders - some require them under the inbox, others can do them at the same level as the inbox. Some have problems if they are too deeply nested or if you try to use non-alphanumeric characters in the folder name too. So, at least the first time, create folders in web mail and see where they sync to outlook.

Yeah, I've never heard of a problem with gmail sync either.
 

RBLampert

Senior Member
Outlook version
Outlook 2019 64-bit
Email Account
POP3
Thanks, Vincenzo and Diane. Maybe I misinterpreted the instructions, because going back now to the ones I found on Slipstick (Configure Gmail Accounts in Outlook), they clearly say to use IMAP. So do these help items from Gmail itself: Read Gmail messages on other email clients using POP - Gmail Help and https://support.google.com/mail/answer/7126229?hl=en&visit_id=636330117764297685-3710424643&rd=1.

Regarding Vincenzo's comment, I have very large and complex folder structures set up in Outlook and REALLY do not want to try to replicate them in Gmail. Plus, I don't even know if I could in webmail with my website-based accounts (although those structures are mostly much simpler). So long as the incoming messages show up in my Outlook inboxes, I'm happy.

Well, mostly happy. Besides synchronization, the other problem I've been fighting is not having e-mails sent through Outlook when I use my laptop not showing up in the Sent Items folders on my desktop. Outlook 365 provides the user a LOT fewer options for controlling how Outlook interacts with specific folders in other systems than the 2010 version did. At least, I haven't found a way to tell Outlook to link to the Sent folders in Gmail or my webmail.

If this is just misunderstanding-based buffoonery on my part, and all I need to do is switch my Outlook accounts back to IMAP, then that's what I'll do. An easy fix would be a wonderful thing, and I'll have a chance to test it in a few weeks.
 

Diane Poremsky

Senior Member
Outlook version
Outlook 2016 32 bit
Email Account
Office 365 Exchange
Regarding Vincenzo's comment, I have very large and complex folder structures set up in Outlook and REALLY do not want to try to replicate them in Gmail.
You need to use what best meets YOUR needs. If it's POP, then it's POP. You won't be alone - millions still use it with gmail.

the other problem I've been fighting is not having e-mails sent through Outlook when I use my laptop not showing up in the Sent Items folders on my desktop.
If you use POP, this is to be expected. If you use IMAP, they definitely should sync.

Outlook 365 provides the user a LOT fewer options for controlling how Outlook interacts with specific folders in other systems than the 2010 version did. At least, I haven't found a way to tell Outlook to link to the Sent folders in Gmail or my webmail.
Go to Send & Receive settings - Ctrl+Alt+S - then click Edit, select the account then Account Properties. You'll see some of the old options there. Control Panel > Mail open the account > More settings (or File > Account Settings > Manage Profile > More Settings) will show the other options too.

As an FYI, for Gmail IMAP, you do want it set not to save sent items, otherwise you'll have duplicate copies.
2856
 

RBLampert

Senior Member
Outlook version
Outlook 2019 64-bit
Email Account
POP3
Thanks, Diane. I definitely need to have my accounts synchronized across my two computers, and if IMAP is the way to make it happen, I'm all for it. I'll get to work on getting that change made.
 
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