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Home Featured Getting Hotmail IMAP to Work on a Mac

Getting Hotmail IMAP to Work on a Mac


Microsoft finally implemented IMAP interface on a Hotmail (outlook.com, live.com, live.ca, etc.). Finally, they have caught up to the 21st
century and implemented a mail system which is designed for a world where people have multiple devices.ย  They steadfastly refuse to implement CALDAV or CARDDAV, so no hope of syncing calenders or contacts though, even though, as a recent survey for Help-My-Tech.ca (a Lower Mainland on-site tech support company) showed, 58% of respondents called accessing their email and contacts from anywhere absolutely critical (30% said they “cannot live without it”).

If you have a Mac, you know that that settings up mail accounts is simple, easy and automatic, right? Well… not so fast.

Create new mac mail account

Click the “+” to create a new account

The first thing you do is create a new email account in Mac Mail by clicking on the plus sign.

Add Hotmail Account

Trying to add a Hotmail account normally

The normal method would be to simply enter the Hotmail address (or outlook.com, etc.) and expect that the Mac will capture the settings for you. Apple thinks that Hotmail does not support IMAP so it sets the POP settings for you.

Mac Hotmail Account Settings Fail

Mail sets the POP settings – FAIL!

To set the IMAP settings for Hotmail on the Mac, you must first make it think you are setting up a different kind of account that it doesn’t know the settings for.

Add Garbage Account that you can change to Hotmail IMAP later

Create an account that doesn’t exist on a domain that doesn’t exist.

First you create a garbage account. You will change this to the Hotmail account later after you have set-up IMAP.

Set the Hotmail IMAP servers

Set-up the account as IMAP and enter the Hotmail IMAP servers.

Now we manually create it as IMAP with the server name as imap-mail.outlook.com and a user name of the full hotmail.com, outlook.com or live.com address. I am not sure if this will work for a live.ca or other address.

Checking outlook.com connection

Wait while Mail checks for the best available port and security

Rather than letting you set-up the port and security manually, mail does it for you. Refill your coffee.

Hotmail Outgoing Mail

Set the outgoing outlook.com server

The outgoing (SMTP) server for your Hotmail account must be smtp-mail.outlook.com to allow mail to be sent and validated as coming from a real Hotmail account. Using this port ensures that mail you send from your Mac (or PC) will end up in the “Sent” folder on all connected devices. Make sure that the check-box “Use only this server” is checked.

Do not take the account online

Verification screen. Do not take this account online yet.

A verification screen will be displayed. Do not take the account online yet (it is not a Hotmail address yet!). Click create.

Edit the Account

Click the hotmail account to edit it.

Click on the Hotmail IMAP account to edit the settings.

Set you Hotmail address

Change the email address to your actual Hotmail address

Now we are ready to change the email address to the actual hotmail.com, outlook.com or live.com address.

Close and Save

Close and save the settings.

Close the dialog box and choose “Save” when prompted.

Take Hotmail IMAP online

Take the account online.

From the Mail menu, select Mailbox -> Take All Accounts Online then wait a minute or more depending on the number of folders you have in your hotmail account.

Hotmail IMAP folders on apple osx mail

Mail showing Hotmail with all folders in sync.

Finally! All Hotmail folders , read status, flags, etc. are in sync between your iPhone, iPad, Mac, PC, Android Tablet and the web.


Incoming IMAP mail server: imap-mail.outlook.com
Incoming IMAP mail server port: 993
Encryption: SSL
Outgoing SMTP mail server: smtp-mail.outlook.com
Outgoing SMTP mail server port: 587
Encryption: TLS
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64 Comments  comments 

64 Responses

  1. KulikoYetzdo

    thank you ๐Ÿ™‚ now I can use OSX as a main OS now…wait for a year ๐Ÿ™

    • niconice


      I would like to disable the email pop ups on hotmail and iCloud on my iMac. Is changing to IMAP the only way to do this?

  2. Dale

    This will not sync mail on iMac to hotmail!

    • Have you upgraded to Mavericks? If so have you applied last weekend’s update that fixes IMAP issues? The article was written using Mountain Lion.

      Also make sure that you are logging in with your primary email, not an alias.

  3. Dale

    It works as far as getting emails on the mac mail app, even sets up all folders you have like you have on the server (Microsoft Outlook). But if you delete an email using the iMac Mail app it will not remove it from the outlook server. Is this the way it works or have I done something wrong in setting it up. Also, when I send an email from my iMac using the Mail app it puts 2 (duplicates the email) in my sent folder.

    • Make sure that you have done the IMAP update if you are using Mavericks, and that you do not have it set to save a copy of sent messages into the sent mail folder since Hotmail does that for you.

      • Dale

        I do have Mavericks rel 10.9. I redid everything and still not syncing. I got this error when I tried to delete a message from my INBOX on the mac.

        The IMAP command โ€œUID COPYโ€ (to Deleted) failed for the mailbox โ€œINBOXโ€ with server error: Error 9. Server error. Please try again later..

        Do you think this is the problem? Also, how can I get the last box (summary) in your write up.

        One other thing, in order to get it to work I had to use a user name(hotmail address) and password (hotmail password) on the outgoing mail server (smtp-mail.outlook.com).

      • Dale

        Never mind I fix the error i was getting on deleting a email. So can you tell me why its not syncing?

  4. YO

    Thanks for your article. I have Mavericks and have tried your instruction and unfortunately it does not work. ๐Ÿ™

  5. genevieve

    Thak you so much. It worked! I did set up a gmail account to sync everything but with your tutorial. I can still use my hotmail account and everything is sync!

  6. c_cil

    Perfect!!! Thanks a lot!!!

  7. Julz

    I’ve tried for so long to get Hotmail to work on my Apple devices – this has finally worked! Thanks so much!

  8. Jina

    thank you so much! this worked great ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. stefan

    Hi, great explanations. All is working fine except that my “sent” folder only syncs on my iPhone and iPad but not on my iMac when I sent emails from the iPhone or iPad. Any idea why?

    • Al

      Hello, great howto! I have same prob, when sending email with iphone it doesn’t appear in Mail on osx. Also those double sent, but still have option button turned on, I’ll try… well worked, but then all sent emails are hidden, not gone. Till I turn on the button again.

  10. Karim

    Finallly thanks a lot..

  11. CA

    This worked perfectly to sync my hotmail between my Macbook, iPhone and iPad-thank you!!!! But still not seeing my calendar or contacts in my outlook? Any suggestions?

    • Microsoft still does not support CalDAV or CardDAV so there is no way to sync contacts and calendars.

      The only solution is to use iCloud for contacts and calendars and then go into outlook.com and attach the iCloud calendar to your outlook account and an external calendar.

      The far easier solution (and I am not trying to be trite or fan-boy here) is to forward your hotmail address to iCloud or Gmail then it’s easy to sync everything except a PC (which you can sync by using EMClient as your email program).

  12. Pel

    Thank you for your help this is very useful. At last….many years waiting for this!!!
    I have a question thought, I set up the account and it seems to be working, but not all my messages got downloaded. Do you know why this is? Also, I got a sort of synch but newer messages are not coming in. I already had this same account in POP version, should I erase this before or after setting up the IMAP is this what is causing me trouble? Thank you!

    • POP will usually eat messages from the server. You should only use IMAP or EAS (Exchange Active Sync) on all devices. The problem is that all of your old messages may be lost if you delete the POP account.

      You should DISABLE the POP account, you can drag any old messages or folders to the IMAP account to put them back on the server and have them available on all devices.

      When you have some devices connected with IMAP and some with POP, Outlook.com will move the messages that POP has attempted to eat into a folder called something like “POP Deleted” so you can get them back.

  13. Rafael Araujo

    Thanks man! You rock!

  14. Mr Randomo

    OMG Thankyou so so so so so much!!!!!!! Before this I wasn’t able to delete any emails from Mail, and now, now I can!!! ๐Ÿ˜€

  15. Rebecca

    Thank you so much!

  16. Brenda Little Raven

    what about setting up another hotmail account, my son and I both share one laptop and need both of our hotmails in apple mail. I am using Mavericks. Thank you!!

    • The proper way is to set-up two user accounts on the Mac, one for you and one for him. That way you each have different emails, contacts, calendars, web history, preferences and files (plus iCloud, Dropbox etc).

      (System Preferences->Users & Groups).

      If you really want everything mixed together then just add a second email account using the procedure above (change the account names to something to obviously identify them).

      Inbox will show mail from all accounts, but under that will be the individual inboxes for each account.

  17. selena

    thank you so much, this was the most helpful answer ive ccome acrossed, however you were right with an hotmail.ca account not working. Are there any solutions for this account to be able to sync my mail across my ipad and mail app on mac?

    My other hotmail.com account worked great thanks for that.

  18. eleanor

    will this work for a hotmail.co.uk account? I’m having difficulty getting it set up ๐Ÿ™

    • I have no way to test, but according to my research, it should work but you must use imap-mail.outlook.com as the IMAP server and use your full hotmail.co.uk address as user name.

  19. Rununculus

    That worked so well, thank you very much! I’ve tried it before with other online helps but this is the first that worked. Yay!

  20. spanna

    Hi, i have been following your fix on my macbook air, running OSX, and all goes well till i click create then need to click on the hotmail account to input my correct hotmail address – there is no option to change the address as it is not in a box. I tried clicking ‘advancedโ€ฆ’ but that only gives me the option to add a IMAP Path prefix. Any thoughts, gratefully received. Many thanks.

  21. Klynt

    I love you Mr Potato! I no longer have to re-enter my password many times each day, after YEARS of having to do so. Even the “genius'” at the Apple store had no clue how to do this. And I have asked dozens of them since I found out Microsoft finally did IMAP!

  22. For those following this: The latest Mavericks update has removed the ability to set-up email sanely.

    Now you can’t get to the edit screen from the accounts section. You need to open Mail, UNHIDE the folders column (“Show” arrow at the top) then expand Inbox, then Right-click (or whatever alternate click like two-fingers or Ctrl-Click) on the account you want to change and select “Get Account Info”.

    That will bring up the edit panel.

    All those thousands of engineers at Apple and the guy with the brain was off sick the day they designed the Mail app. (Sorry… was that my outside voice?)

  23. Colin

    I have recently changed my hotmail account from POP to IMAP and my apple Mail account now shows all my hotmail folders. Great, but the problem is that when I open my mail account it downloads all my folder emails every time. Can I avoid this. Also, I am now getting two copies of every email I send in my sent box.

    • Check to be sure that you don’t have the check box set to save a copy of sent items in the sent folder. Using the hotmail server for sending mail does that for you.

  24. Jonathan Irwin

    OMG this worked perfectly! Took a while for mail to start coming in but works great! Thanks so much!

  25. giddens

    What is the IMAP Path Prefix?

  26. rostopovitch

    Hi there. I scanned through and can’t see anything here so….I have set this up on Mavericks and whilst it connects and collects mail etc. its not showing my outlook.com folders. Am I missing something please? Many thanks

  27. HH

    Hi there I now seem to have 2 hotmail accounts on my Mac and if I disable the old one I lose a lot of older e-mails. Can you help please?

    • The old one is probably set up as POP, an old mail protocol from the 1980s which is not secure and is designed for one computer. It removes messages from the server (by default) so they are only on that computer.

      Outlook.com now puts any mail removed by a computer configured for POP access into a folder with a name like “POP Deleted”.

      You have two choices:

      1) rename the POP account to something else (eg. Old Hotmail) and disable the account for receive.
      2) drag any folders you want to keep onto the IMAP version of the account. This will push them back to the server. Once the transfer is done, remove the POP version.

  28. Mikey

    Thanks it work 9/12/14

  29. Luuk

    It setups fine but it doesnt automatic pick up e-mails

  30. howdie

    awesome!! thanks a lot!

  31. not the brightest

    Bonjour! I have spent hours on the phone to Apple who try to convince me that it is a hotmail problem not Mac problem… my hotmail that I have approx 30,000 mail in has taken a few days to load after Apple’s last resort was a complete reinstall of software. Problem seems even worse now! and every time I send/receive mail it is slow and frustrating…any ideas? Merci ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Sorry, I just noticed that my long and researched answer to your comment never actually posted.

      Apple’s implementation of IMAP downloads the entire contents of every message to your computer. There is no way around this, although you can (and should) turn off automatic downloading of attachments. As a result it can take days to sync all of your messages the first time if you have thousands of messages in your inbox.

      You should disable sleep (in energy saver preferences) and leave it on for a couple of days. After that syncing should be better,

  32. Chantelle

    Hi. My folders, sent and deleted items folder will show content but the inbox is just blank. Have I missed something? I followed all your instructions which were great.

  33. Tom

    Just to note that if you’re using 2-factor authentication you’ll need to log into your mail account and generate a password specifically for the mail app using the guidelines at this link:


    Other than that it worked perfectly in Yosemite, thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Hi Tom,
      With Yosemite you should not need to go through all of this, OSX knows the best settings for Hotmail / Outlook.

      I say “best” because there are no right settings for hotmail because there is not synchronization of Calendars nor of Contacts due to the ongoing battle between Microsoft and standards plus their refusal to allow EAS on computers.

  34. akshay

    I followed your settings and set up the mail account on my iPhone and Macbook.

    The problem however is that, when I send a mail from either device, it sends the mail from each individual device. So the person receiving the mail, receives 2 mails by me in his inbox. One from the Macbook and the second one from the iPhone, irrespective from whichever device I have actually sent the mail.

    Please help, thanks!

    • That is a puzzler, but all of the work that I talk about here is not needed any more with Mavericks or Yosemite as they now know the correct settings for Hotmail / Outlook.com

  35. Muhammad Ali

    I have macbook, and I want to access my hotmail account but can’t. Even I get help and tried to do the same steps but failed. Please help me in this concern, my email id is “muhammad_ali@sumarauto.com”. W’ll be wait of your email (help).

  36. Michelle

    Thanks for this. It helped me with setting up my hotmail account. Things have changed a bit, however your post got me through it. Very much appreciated!

    • I am glad it helped you, but I am not sure how, if you are using a current Mac operating system. It would be great to know HOW it helped, so I could add an update to the original article.

  37. Ugo

    Hi guys.
    i have the infamous problem of the double sent message with hotmail/outlook account with imap.

    i’ve read around a lot of suggestions to uncheck the box “keep the sent message on server” in settings>account>rules.
    unfortunately this DOES NOT WORK.
    if i uncheck the box, the imap sent folder is moved down into the server account section on the lateral bar (which, of course, i can even choose not to look at and even hide, but it’s still there…).
    then another “sent” is created (as you can see in the image here).
    this way as soon as i send a message it is reported in the “new” sent folder one time, and the old, serverside, sent folder another time.
    so, basically, nothing changes.

    even worse, as an imap configuration is normally used to keep more than one device coupled, if in this situation i send a message from my phone it will appear on the server side folder only.
    so the result is that i have two folders: in the server side one i have all the sent messages from all the devices, and in the “higher” local(??) one i have a second copy of the sent messages from my mac only.
    pretty useless.

    eventually, if i try to erase the “local” folder, select the server one and click “use this folder for>sent messages” that automatically reselects the check box in setting>account>rules.

    apple really has to solve the problem.