Log POP and IMAP Traffic to Fix Windows Live Mail Problems

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Windows Live Mail can keep a log of email activity to help you (or tech support) troubleshoot problems.

Logging for Troubleshooting and Curiosity

Sometimes, your email may decide 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. This is communicated through error messages and emails.

Logging POP and IMAP — the protocols used by Windows Mail and Outlook Express to receive messages — 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 log POP and IMAP traffic in Windows Live Mail, Windows Mail or Outlook Express:

    1. Click File.
    2. Select Options | Mail… from the menu.
  1. In Windows Live Mail 2012: In Windows Mail, Outlook Express and Windows Live Mail up to 2012
    1. Select Tools | Options... from the menu.
      1. In Windows Live Mail, hold down the Alt key if you do not see the menu bar.
    2. Go to the Advanced tab.
    3. Click Maintenance.
  2. In Windows Live Mail and Windows Mail: In Outlook Express:
    1. Go to the Maintenance tab.
  3. Make sure both General and E-mail (Windows Live Mail) or both Mail and IMAP (Windows Mail and Outlook Express) are checked under Troubleshooting.
  4. Click OK.

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.

Find the Log Files

To open the Windows Live Mail log file:

  1. Go to your Windows Live Mail store folder.
  2. Open the "WindowsLiveMail.log" file in Notepad.

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

  1. 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").
  2. You can also open your Windows Mail or Outlook Express store folder and find the "Pop3.log" and "Imap4.log" files in it.