Why is Outlook 2010 with a Gmail IMAP account so slow?

Anders July 31, 2010
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I am giving Outlook 2010 (not the beta) a spin with GMail as an IMAP account. Synchronization with GMail’s IMAP folders takes forever to complete (unlike Thundebird, Apple Mail, Windows Live Mail).

Any ideas of what is causing this or how to work around it?

I have read posts which suggest only downloading headers or changing to POP, but none of these suggestions are really solutions. I need the offline eMail reading capability.

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  1. Louisangel
    April 12, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    I found a workaround this problem that works for me. Allow
    Outlook 2010 to download and synch your Gmail accounts and when you’re ready to
    read your mail, click on the Send / Receive tab and click “Work Offline.” You
    will now be able to open and delete messages instantly. Just click “Work
    Offline” again to go back online and resume synchronization.

    • Tina
      April 12, 2012 at 7:44 pm

      Thank you for sharing your workaround, Louisangel!

    • Alexander
      May 4, 2012 at 9:40 am

      Great. I followed your advice. What I did instead of working offline is to change send and receive settings from one minute to twenty minutes. It works great.

  2. Matthew
    April 2, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    First of all, I would ALWAYS recommend IMAP over POP3. The likes of Gmail and Hotmail and Yahoo etc, will always have a better backup system than us users. So why take the risk and download your emails locally into one file (in the case of Outlook) and pray that it never gets corrupted?

    Regarding the original question, I found another solution which may help.

    Go to OPTIONS, Then ADVANCED, Then click the button which says "SEND & RECIEVE" and highlight the account which is causing you problems. Then Click EDIT.

    On the page that opens, you'll see the following options:-

    - Download Headers for Subscribed Folders
    - Download Complete Items including Attachments for Subscribed Folders
    - Use the custom behaviour defined below.

    I chose the custom option and enabled the attachments and complete items for my inbox, but then my organised folders which stored all my "archive" and discussion emails etc, I set to "Headers" which then only downloads the subject and first few lines of the email and NOT all the attachments etc. 

    This speeds up the syncronising of these folders.

    If you still need to access these emails, simply click on them as usual and it will download the email on the fly, as required.

  3. Buy Facebook Fans
    March 23, 2012 at 11:51 am

    I'm having this issue as well. Only when deleting messages however.

  4. Pedro Perezim
    March 17, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    Dude, I saw this solution in a brazilian website.

    Change "imap.gmail.com" to "imap.googlemail.com" and "smtp.gmail.com" to "smtp.googlemail.com". SSLcryptography in and TSL cryptography out. It works for me.

  5. Jm
    November 24, 2011 at 8:47 am

    I have all your suggestions but deletion in Outlook is still very slow. I have looked on other boards and still have not found an asnwer.

    • Tina
      December 2, 2011 at 9:18 pm


      thanks for the input and sorry that you haven't been able to find a fix. Please do let us know in case you manage to solve this issue after all. Thank you!

  6. Bob
    November 5, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    Or in Gmail cancel the tags for the inbox (gmail anlyazing for important mail).
    goto labels and remove "show in IMAP" from most of labels (leave inbox, drafts, and sent intems)

    Most important: in outlook goto "send an receive" groups setup, edit the default group there and make sure it downloads only the headers for every account.

    this fix the slow folders sync! and not limited for the number of messages on IMAP

  7. A.Guest
    October 25, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    Limit GMAIL IMAP Messages to 1000 messages.  Leave Outlook overnight to sync folders. Once completed, it is very fast with OL 2010.

  8. John
    September 29, 2011 at 1:57 am

    Stumbled onto this thread and notice nobody answered Anders two questions.  So I'll give it a shot.  The biggest reason OUTLOOK IMAP synchronizing is slow is because the Outlook default IMAP setup has you synchronize every folder on GMAIL to outlook.

    The work around in Outlook is to right click on your gmail account and select IMAP FOLDERS.  Click on QUERY, after list is updated click on SUBSCRIBED tab. Unsubscribe everything except INBOX, SENT MAIL and DRAFTS.

    • Tina
      September 29, 2011 at 10:48 am

      Thanks a lot for sharing your solution, John!

  9. Jack Saltiel
    August 22, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    I have the same problem with a GoDaddy email account which I access with IMAP. I do not have the Outlook Hotmail Connector installed. It is painfully slow. Performance was OK until about 2 months ago when it slowed down horribly. I have cleaned up my email since then to no avail.

    • Tina
      August 22, 2011 at 4:18 pm


      did you try the suggestions above? If yes, this may be worth asking a new question to get some fresh suggestions for your case.

  10. Test
    July 6, 2011 at 12:09 pm


    the last post from Guiwells is USEFUL !
    1/ link your Gmail to Outlook
    2/ set "SEND/RECEIVE All Folders" - unlink GMAIl from default sending/receiving group
    3/ create new sending/receiving group for GMAIL and select just importants folders

  11. Guiwells
    July 4, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    I think you will find this article very helpful

    There are some tricks to improve Outlook performance.


  12. Bob
    June 13, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    Removing the Office Outlook Connector did the trick for me.  I am using a company webbased email system and I must use IMAP to stay synced with multiple computers and mobile devices.  Outlook was constiantly freezing and not responding with my IMAP setup. all seems to be working much better after removing the Outlook Connecter thing.

    • Tina
      June 14, 2011 at 12:01 am

      Thanks for sharing what worked for you, Bob!

    • Papajaws
      September 14, 2011 at 7:18 pm

      Where do I find the Office Outlook Connector?  (or the previously mentioned Hotmail Connector?)  I looked in software programs and in Outlook add-ins. 

      I did disable a bunch of add-ins (many that I never installed) and it helped some.  But it's still really slow.

  13. DGEE
    May 16, 2011 at 3:48 am

    need help carrying old outlook emails into gmail - i have imap'ed gmail into outlook, but when i go to drag the outlook folders into gmail, outlook freezes.

    any ideas appreciated - i am running outlook 2010, btw.

    • Tina
      May 16, 2011 at 8:52 am


      I recommend you to ask a new question. 

  14. Nelson Pardee
    May 3, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    I use Outlook to sync with gmail and an exchange email account, and have FAR more email in exchange than in gmail. Gmail actions are slow- on the order of 3 seconds for a delete, move, etc.- whereas actions against the exchange server are generally instantaneous. Conclusion: one can't blame Outlook (I suppose it's possible that Outlook might be fast only with Exchange). I'd love to have a solution...

  15. cga_ie
    April 3, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    Gmail IMAP is working fine, the problem was with Microsoft Office Outlook Hotmail Connector

    If you have Microsoft Office Outlook Hotmail Connector installed to get Hotmail emails in Outlook, it slows down the functionality of Gmail IMAP so I have uninstalled Microsoft Office Outlook Hotmail Connector and gmail is fast as POP, even better

    Happy days

    • Tina
      April 3, 2011 at 8:43 pm

      Thank you for sharing your solution Carlos! Hope this will be helpful to other people facing the same issue.

      • cga_ie
        April 3, 2011 at 9:09 pm

        You are very welcome. It took me weeks before I found out about it

        • Din_mahe
          April 16, 2011 at 7:03 am

          I don't have this connector either and still my deletion on outlook is very slow. i have imap with gmail.

  16. Anonymous
    March 16, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    I can't find where to do it in my account settings. Only from here http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/business/upgrade.html with 30 days free

  17. Anonymous
    March 15, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    Google application sync is not enable for my email account. Ask domain admin to enable it
    I think it is not free
    Thanks a lot.

    • Aibek
      March 16, 2011 at 8:39 am

      You should be able to enable it on your own from your account settings.

  18. chris
    March 14, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    Google Aps Sync is your answer. Install it and its snappy. https://tools.google.com/dlpage/gappssync

  19. Carlosgarcia_ie
    March 4, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    Outlook is extremelly slow when deleting even one email

  20. Debbie
    January 13, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    I found this helpful as I too had the problem of Outlook being particularly slow in deleting emails. I was stumped that the 'new' version of Outlook was much slower than my old, ailing PC with Outlook 2003! HTH


    • Anonymous
      June 24, 2011 at 7:13 pm

      Yes, I simply cannot believe that 2010 is so much slower than 2003. Deleting is excruciatingly slow. It is as if MS is trying to force us onto  exchange. As a partial compromise I tried Live hotmail with Outlook....disaster, no folder would sync.

  21. Antonio
    January 10, 2011 at 3:08 am

    I have no problems downloading from my gmail account although it takes a while to finish the process of synchronizing folders. My biggest issue is the slowness of the software in deleting files. This is not acceptable and from my research so far seems to be a common problem. I would really like to know if Microsoft is working on a fix. (I have tried the "safe mode" option and it is still slow!)

    • Katelin7141
      December 2, 2011 at 3:12 pm

      I have the same exact issue now that i am using outlook 2010. super slow to delete each email. Driving me crazy. As well as super slow to send and receive.

  22. James
    December 23, 2010 at 8:19 am

    To answer the question, the answer lies in the synchronization between Outlook and Gmail. If you have several GB of email (I had about 5 GB), for the first couple weeks of using Outlook 2010. It would gradually synchronize with all the emails already on Gmail. This can really slow down reads and sends until it has completed the synchronization. I have found that due to the sheer volume, Outlook halts synchronization every so often, and resumes the next time you load Outlook from Scratch. IMAP is important when you have large amounts of folders and emails however it is a two edge sword, IMAP also gets to be much slower when you have large amounts of emails because it synchronizes email as a very long list, not a relational database. Where as POP comes into the native Outlook database but can quickly get out of sync. Case in point, sent emails. If you do them from Outlook, don't expect to find them when you are away on that important business trip on gmail, cause they never went back there.

    POP is faster for those using it for sending and receiving emails as a messaging system, for those needing it for archive and searching at a later date, IMAP is the way to go. Just don't expect fast performance if you have thousands of emails.

  23. Horsesass
    October 16, 2010 at 6:30 am

    pop RULEZZZZ!

  24. Apc21
    August 14, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    Could someone just answer the basic question? Does Outlook slow down the delivery of email when using it in conjuction with gmail?

    • Jack Cola
      August 15, 2010 at 1:47 am

      Any desktop program will slow down the delivery of email because your computer has to authencate with Gmail, then upload the email, and then Gmail will send it.

      If you are using the web based version of Gmail, once you hit send, there is no uploading.

      But practically, the biggest time waster with email is waiting for the other person to read it.

    • Gschaeffer
      December 2, 2010 at 6:51 pm

      The comment about syncing folders is the reason IMAP is slow. If using GMAIL as your email service and using the Label feature, then Outlook creates its own folders for each Label. Now you have duplicate emails in each Outlook folder, this also means that the Labels and folders have to be sync'd each time. Therefore its slow.
      POP3 is a simple download or upload (send) and you have only one copy of an email on your desktop in Outlook.

      • Anonymous
        June 24, 2011 at 7:11 pm

        You are missing the point that Outlook 2003 and other email clients face far reduced delays compared with excessive ones of 2010 / 20007

    • Anonymous
      June 24, 2011 at 7:09 pm

      Simple answer - Outlook 2007 and 2010 most definitely yes. Outlook 2003, no noticeable drag. Therefore for Outlook IMAP users going to 2007 or 2010 is definitely no upgrade, instead reduced productivity.

  25. Jack Cola
    August 1, 2010 at 1:58 am

    I found IMAP to be slow when ever I have used it. I used a Google Apps account for Gmail with IMAP to thunderbird, and it was incredible slow. To flick through an email, it took at least 3 seconds to open. Therefore, I would suggest changing it to use POP3. That way, you will also have a backup on your computer (if your settings are to not delete from server)

    • Oron Joffe
      August 3, 2010 at 3:06 pm

      Jack, I must disagree with you here. IMAP is always slower than POP because it needs to synchronise the folders rather that simply download new messages, but POP3 is the oposite of a backup! Instead of having two, similar sets of email ('main' and 'backup') you end up with only one on your PC! If you set POP not to remove messages from the server, you end up with all the email you ever received in your inbox on the server - not what I would consider a usable second copy.

      As for Outlook 2010 question, can't help as I'm afraid I I don't use it.

      • Jack Cola
        August 5, 2010 at 11:03 am

        0ron, it could be considered as a backup as your main email's are on your computer and you don't use the web-based version at all (assuming gmail here). If your computer crashes, you can re-download all emails off Gmail again. If gmail is down, you have all your emails on your computer (or you could simple use the Gmail Offline feature.

        So depending how you setup, you can somewhat backup your emails.

        For my setup, I use Thunderbird, Gmail, and POP3. Every email I send automatically goes to my Gmail sent box, every email I download via pop goes straight to archive, so I know what I have downloaded. The only problem doing this, is that you can't have two main computers to use POP because your email's will duplicate, conflict and emails won't appear on both PC depending how you set it up.

        To solve a mobile problem (say I leave my computer on during the day, my phone won't download my emails because they have been archived (and I can't leave them in inbox as it won't be marked as read otherwise), my emails get forwarded to my ISP account which I can then download from my phone as if I were accessing it from my Gmail account.

        I hope that makes sense.

        And if Thunderbirds decides to download all my POP emails, you just have to stop it, and tell Gmail to only download POP emails received from now on.

        • Anonymous
          June 9, 2011 at 8:29 pm

          You will also have to go into gmail and clean it up once it reach the size limit.  

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