How to set Outlook to download only E-mail headers

Outlook 2013 2010 2007 2003
Sometimes it is to your advantage to not download an entire e-mail from your mail server, such as when you have a slow Internet connection or you want to start looking through many e-mail messages for a particular one as soon as possible. Outlook offers the capability to download only the e-mail header, which includes the sender and the subject of the e-mail, and display these onscreen before downloading the message itself.

This enables to you browse through your e-mails without actually having to download all the e-mails and their attachments in their entirety, which can often be a lengthy task.

Note: This works only for POP3, not for IMAP protocol...

To configure Outlook to download only the e-mail headers, do the following:

   1.   On the Send / Receive tab, in the Send & Receive group, choose Send/Receive Groups:

Send and Receive in Outlook 2016

   2.   In the Send/Receive Group list, choose Define Send/Receive Groups... (or press Ctrl+Alt+S):

Send/Receive Groups in Outlook 2016

   3.   Select a group to modify and click Edit....

   4.   From the Accounts section on the left side of the dialog box, you can select the mail account that you want to modify the settings for.

Send/Receive Settings in Outlook 2016

   5.   Select a folder from the list of folders in the Folder Options section and then choose the option Download headers only.

It is possible to have different setting for each folder in an account, so, for example, you could set Outlook to download only headers in a folder that you know gets a large volume of e-mails.

Note: This works only for POP3, not for IMAP protocol...:

Send/Receive Settings in Outlook 2016

See also this tip in French: Comment configurer Outlook pour télécharger uniquement les en-têtes de messagerie.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to ask OfficeToolTips team.