How to Configure Outlook to use SMTP, IMAP, POP3 to Send Emails?

How to configure Outlook to use SMTP, IMAP, and POP3 settings to send emails? Post Office Protocol (POP), Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) and Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) are three of the most commonly used protocols for sending email messages on the internet. As user friendly as Outlook is, its advanced settings can be somewhat challenging to configure. Especially when you’re trying to use Outlook with a custom server or a different protocol. Follow this guide to show you how to set Outlook to send emails through the SMTP, IMAP and POP3 protocols.

Understanding Outlook

Microsoft first introduced Outlook in its Office 97 edition. Many people use Outlook as a handy mail user agent (MUA) to access and catalog their email communications. Thus, it’s often seen as just a webmail application. However, it was intended as more than that.

Outlook is a personal information manager. The webmail feature is just one of its four core functions. It was designed to keep Office suite users organized. As such, its interface can often feel congested, especially if you’ve installed additional add ons. This can make it difficult to configure.

Regardless, Microsoft has continuously attempted to make it easier for users to marry Outlook with some of the most popular mail transfer agents (MTA). It primarily achieves this feat by using easy to follow wizards. However, oftentimes these wizards can make advanced configurations more difficult for old school power users who prefer more text based interfaces.

Nonetheless Outlook’s advanced features lay hidden beneath its shiny veneer, so you must learn how to get there first. How do you configure Outlook to use SMTP, IMAP, and POP3 settings to send emails? Follow this article to address this question.

Configuring Outlook to Use SMTP, IMAP, POP3 for Outbound Messages

How to configure Outlook to use SMTP, IMAP, and POP3 settings to send emails – there are a couple of ways you can do this. However, before we begin, you should note that the following guide will only focus on versions of Outlook from the past decade (from Outlook 2013 upwards). Of course, this includes Office 365’s Outlook Live.

You can either configure Outlook to use SMTP, IMAP, or POP3 for sending and receiving emails by creating a new account or editing one that you’ve previously established.

I do suggest that users understand the differences between these protocols before attempting to configure the advanced settings of any mail client. First, let’s look at how you can you’re your account server settings and add a custom mail protocol.

Editing Mail Server Settings for the Desktop Version of Outlook

The following steps apply to Outlook 2013, 2016, 2019, and 2021. If you’re using Outlook 2013, you need to ensure that you’re using the modern menu design as opposed to the classic design.

  1. Click on the File menu item (or hit Alt+F on your keyboard).
  2. Next, click on the Info item on the left panel.
  3. Select which Account you want to edit from the top Account Information drop-down menu.

5. Click on the Account Settings

6. Select Server Settings from the drop-down menu. This will open the IMAP Account Settings dialog.

7. Next, click on the drop-down option labeled Outgoing mail.

8. Change your Outgoing server settings accordingly.

Once you’re done editing/adding your server settings, you can click on the Next button. Outlook will send a test email message. If it sends and receives it successfully, it will save your settings.


It’s important to note that you can only use SMTP for outgoing messages. The POP/POP3 and IMAP are used for incoming mail messages. Thus, if you attempt to use a POP or IMAP server to send emails, your settings will most likely fail and produce an error. However, you’re welcome to try. Nevertheless, similar restrictions apply to incoming messages. You cannot use an SMTP server for incoming mail.

Creating a new Mail Account for the Desktop Version of Outlook

To create a new account and configure it to use SMTP, IMAP, and POP3 settings with Outlook, do the following:

  1. Click on the File menu item (ALT+F).
  2. Next, you can either expand the Account Information drop down menu and click the Add Account option or Click on the Add Account button underneath it. Outlook will display its account creation dialog.

3. Insert your email address into the Email address text field.

4. Click on the Advanced Options drop-down.

5. Check the option labeled Let me set up my account manually.

6. Click on Connect button.

7. The next screen allows you to select your account type. If you’re using a POP mail server, click on the POP option. However, if you’re using an IMAP based server, you should click on the IMAP option.

8. Outlook will then require you to fill in your mail server details. This includes the server, port, encryption method, etc for both your incoming and outgoing mail. Once you’ve filled in your details, you can click on the button labeled Next.

Once again, Outlook will verify your settings by sending a test mail message. If the verification process is successful, Outlook will save your settings.

Next in this article how to configure Outlook to use SMTP, IMAP, and POP3 settings to send emails? we will show you how to access mail server settings for Outlook. 

Access Mail Server Settings for Outlook Live

Outlook live doesn’t allow you to add additional mailboxes or accounts. Much like Yahoo mail, it functions as a single mailbox client. However, you can forward and sync mail using third party apps.

Nevertheless, you can access Outlook Live’s sync email settings using the following steps:

  1. Click on the Settings cog (⚙) near the top right-hand corner of the screen.
  2. Next, click on View all Outlook settings. It should be located under the Display Density option section. Outlook Live should now display the Settings screen.

3. Select the Mail (📧) menu item from the left panel. Outlook Live will display an additional panel with a set of new options.  

4. Finally, click on the Sync email option.

The Sync email screen allows you to define email aliases. Email aliases act as additional email accounts that you can use to send, forward, or receive messages. They act as an additional layer of security. While it’s not the same as being able to set custom IMAP or POP servers, it’s a possible workaround.

If you scroll down the Sync email screen you will find your POP and IMAP settings. You can use it to let devices and third-party apps use POP so you can sync your mail between them. Furthermore, you can choose to allow these devices and apps to delete messages from Outlook.

Great job! We have learned about How to configure Outlook to use SMTP, IMAP, and POP3 settings to send emails. Let’s conclude.

Configure Outlook to use SMTP, IMAP, POP3 Settings to Send Emails Conclusion

So how do you configure Outlook to use SMTP, IMAP, and POP3 Settings to Send Emails? As we have established in the above article, you can configure the desktop versions of Outlook to send mail through custom SMTP servers. Nevertheless, you can also try configuring it to send email through IMAP or POP3 based servers.

However, it would not produce a desirable result as IMAP and POP3 are meant for receiving mail. Alternatively, you can use Microsoft’s Exchange Server which uses EAS (Exchange ActiveSync) and MAPI (Messaging Application Programming Interface) protocols. These are Microsoft’s proprietary mail protocols which its Exchange Server uses to communicate with email clients. Nevertheless, we hope that you’ve found this guide to be helpful. If you have any questions or would like to suggest any corrections, please leave them in the comment section below. As always, thank you for reading.      

Avatar for Mduduzi Sibisi
Mduduzi Sibisi

Mdu is an Oracle-certified software developer and IT specialist, primarily focused on Object-Oriented programming for Microsoft and Linux-based operating systems. He has over a decade of experience and endeavors to share what he's learned from his time in the industry. He moonlights as a tech writer and has produced content for a plethora of established websites and publications - including this one. He's always open to learning and growing.

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