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Log POP and IMAP Traffic to Fix Windows Live Mail or Outlook Express Problems

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Logging for Troubleshooting and Curiosity

Email works. Sometimes, however, it decides on your behalf that you want to learn a bit about how it works under the pretty surface of Windows Live Mail, Windows Mail or Outlook Express. Via error messages and emails not received it directed you to this page, and it will take you to seeing log files of POP or IMAP traffic. Fascinating stuff!

Logging POP and IMAP — the protocols used by Windows Mail and Outlook Express to receive messages — is not only very interesting an endeavor per se, often it also allows you to pinpoint the problem, get an idea where it might lie or confirm that it is not your fault. Pay close attention to what the server says in particular.

Log POP and IMAP Traffic to Troubleshoot Windows Live Mail, Windows Mail or Outlook Express Email Problems

To log POP and IMAP traffic in Windows Live Mail, Windows Mail or Outlook Express:

  • Select Tools | Options... from the menu.
    • In Windows Live Mail, hold down the Alt key if you do not see the menu bar.
  • In Windows Live Mail and Windows Mail:
    • Go to the Advanced tab.
    • Click Maintenance....
  • In Outlook Express:
    • Go to the Maintenance tab.
  • Make sure both General and E-mail (Windows Live Mail) or both Mail and IMAP (Windows Mail and Outlook Express) are checked under Troubleshooting.
  • Click OK.

Now, when you try to download mail from your POP account or access your email on the IMAP server, Windows Mail or Outlook Express takes note of everything going on.

For the gory details to surface, you need to find the log files created by Windows Mail or Outlook Express and open them in a text editor like Notepad. I'll try to make this sound as frighteningly difficult as possible so you'll be delighted by how easy you find the process. No, it's really simple.

Find the Log Files Created by Windows Live Mail, Windows Mail or Outlook Express

To open the Windows Live Mail log file:

To locate the POP and IMAP log files created by Windows Mail or Outlook Express:

  • If you use a file search tool, try looking for "Pop3.log" to find the log file for POP connections and looking for "Imap4.log" to locate the log file for the first IMAP connection (further, parallel IMAP connections will have log files named "Imap4(1).log", "Imap4(2).log" and so on created in the same directory as "Imap4.log").
  • You can also open your Windows Mail or Outlook Express store folder and find the "Pop3.log" and "Imap4.log" files in it.

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