Use Logging to Troubleshoot Email Problems in Outlook

Set up email logging when Outlook isn't working

Sending and receiving email usually works without much struggle in Outlook, but when a problem does arise, you can peak behind the scenes to see what's going on. This works by enabling logging in Outlook and then inspecting the LOG file.

When an unexplained email error doesn't just "go away" when you restart Outlook or reboot your computer, looking through an error log is the next best step. Once logging is enabled, Outlook can create a detailed list of what it's doing as it tries to exchange mail.

With this special LOG file, you can either pinpoint the problem yourself or at least show it to your ISP's support team for analysis. 

How to Use Logging to Troubleshoot Email Problems in Outlook

Start off by enabling logging in Outlook:

  1. Navigate to the File > Options menu, or Tools > Options if you're using an older version of Outlook.

  2. Choose the Advanced tab from the left.

    In older versions of Outlook, go instead to Other > Advanced Options.

  3. On the right, scroll down to find the Other section, and put a check in the box next to Enable troubleshooting logging.

    Don't see that option? Some versions of Outlook call it Enable logging (troubleshooting) or Enable mail logging (troubleshooting).

  4. Press OK on any open windows to save the changes and close the prompts.

  5. Close down and restart Outlook.

You should see a message when Outlook opens that explains that logging is turned on and that it might decrease performance. Press No for now so that logging will remain enabled until we're done.

Now it's time to reproduce the program so that we can inspect the log at a later step. Attempt to send or receive email so that you can run into the problem again. Once you have, disable logging by returning to the steps above and removing the check next to the logging option.

Restart Outlook again, closing it down and then reopening it, and then follow these steps to find Outlook's log file:

  1. Hit the Windows Key + R keyboard shortcut to open the Run dialog box.

  2. Type %temp% and then press Enter to open the temp folder.

  3. The LOG file you need to open depends on the problem you're having and the type of email account you've set up.

  4. POP and SMTP: Open the OPMLog.log file if your account connects to a POP server or if you're having troubles sending email.

    IMAP: Open the Outlook Logging folder and then the folder named after your IMAP account. From there, open imap0.log, imap1.log, etc.

    Hotmail: Is an old Hotmail email account signed on through Outlook? Open the Outlook Logging folder, choose Hotmail, and then find http0.log, http1.log, etc.

  5. That's it.

The LOG file can be read in any text editor. Notepad is probably the easiest one to use in Windows, and TextEdit is similar for macOS. However, see our Best Free Text Editors list if you would rather use something a bit more advanced.