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How to Troubleshoot Email Problems in Outlook with Transaction Logging

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Usually, sending and receiving mail works smoothly in Outlook. But as soon as you have become a bit too accustomed to this error-free email existence, a puzzling and ill-explained error pops up.

If the unexplained error does not go away, only a log can help. Outlook can create a detailed list of what it is doing, sending and receiving as it tries to exchange mail. Using this log, you can either pinpoint the problem yourself or at least show it to your ISP's mail support person, for example.

Outlook can log all communication with Exchange, POP, SMTP and IMAP servers as well as Hotmail communication.

Troubleshoot Email Problems in Outlook with Transaction Logging

To log email traffic for troubleshooting in Outlook:

  • Select Tools | Options... from the menu in Outlook.
  • Go to the Other tab.
  • Click Advanced Options.
  • Make sure Enable logging (troubleshooting) (or Enable mail logging (troubleshooting) in Outlook 2003) is enabled.
  • Click OK.
  • Click OK again.
  • Exit and restart Outlook.

Now it's time to

  • attempt the failed email action — sending the message or retrieving new mail, for example — again

to reproduce the error. After you have generated the error, make sure you

  • uncheck Enable logging (troubleshooting) (or Enable mail logging (troubleshooting)) again

via the steps outlined above before you restart Outlook once more.

Find the Log File

While turning transaction logging on or off is easy in Outlook, finding the log files can be a bit more involved:

  • Select Run... from the Start menu.
  • Type "%temp%" (without the quotation marks).
  • Click OK.
  • POP and SMTP:
    • Open the OPMLog.log file in the folder that opens.
  • IMAP:
    • Open the Outlook Logging folder.
    • Go to the folder named after your IMAP account.
    • Open the imap0.log, imap1.log etc. files.
  • Hotmail:
    • Open the Outlook Logging and then the Hotmail folder.
    • Open the http0.log, http1.log etc. files.
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