How to Download Only the Headers for Large Messages in Outlook

Save time and space by downloading headers only in Outlook.

Download Only the Headers for Large Messages in Outlook
Rawpixel / Unsplash

Protect yourself from email messages that contain malicious code, viruses, or huge picture attachments. Set up Outlook to download only the headers of messages. It will make your email more secure and speed things up considerably.

Instructions in this article apply to Outlook 2019, Outlook 2016, Outlook 2013, Outlook 2010, and Outlook for Office 365.

Download Only the Headers for Large Messages in Outlook

Here's how to set up Outlook to download only the subject, sender, and other minimal data for big messages that exceed a certain size automatically.

Beginning with Outlook 2013, downloading only headers is no longer available for IMAP and Exchange accounts.

  1. Open Outlook Mail.

  2. Go to the Send/Receive tab.

  3. In the Send & Receive group, select Send/Receive Groups.

    Screenshot of Send/Receive Groups
  4. Select Define Send/Receive Groups.

    Screenshot of Send/Receive Groups menu
  5. In the Send/Receive Groups dialog box, choose the desired group.

  6. Select Edit.

    Screenshot of Send/Receive Groups dialog
  7. In the Send/Receive Settings dialog box, select a POP3 account from the Accounts list.

    Screenshot of Send/Receive Settings
  8. Select the Include the selected account in this group check box.

  9. Under Folder Options, select the Inbox folder.

  10. Select Download complete item including attachments.

  11. Select the Download only headers for items larger than check box.

  12. Enter the desired threshold size. The default is set at 50KB.

    Repeat steps 9 through 12 for each folder that is set up to receive incoming email.

  13. Select OK.

Get the Rest of the Message

Now, when you select Send/Receive, Outlook only downloads the header information for messages that exceed the threshold size. Getting the full emails is easy, as is deleting messages right at the server without downloading them in full.