The Refresh Rate of the Mailbox in Microsoft Outlook

By Gina Poirier

If you're accustomed to using Internet email or other services, the automatic refresh rate for the Outlook inbox may seem comparatively slow. If it is too slow for your preferences, either refresh your inbox manually or adjust the automatic settings to download your mail more frequently, whether you are online or offline.

Default Automatic Refresh Rate

By default, Outlook 2010 automatically refreshes every 30 minutes when it is online. Whenever an "auto refresh" or "send/receive" occurs, Outlook will download incoming messages to your inbox and send any messages saved in your outbox.

Manually Refreshing

If you like the auto refresh rate most of the time but occasionally would not like to wait for it to activate, press the "F9" key on your keyboard to manually refresh. Outlook will download incoming messages and send outoing messages on this command. This does not affect the auto refresh rate, although it starts the timing over. For example, if your auto refresh rate is 20 minutes, Outlook will automatically refresh again 20 minutes after you press F9.

Customizing Automatic Settings

Outlook has several customizable auto refresh settings. To access them, click the "Send/Receive" tab and select the "Send/Receive Groups" drop-down menu. Click "Define Send/Recieve Groups." In the top of the pop-up box that appears, define which groups you would like to alter, or change the settings for "All Accounts." To change how often Outlook auto refreshes when online, enter the refresh rate in the box in "Schedule an automatic send/receive every _ minutes". Check the box next to this option. Another send/receive setting option is that of performing an auto-refresh every time you exit the program. Outlook can also send and receive when the program is offline, as long as your computer is still connected to the Internet. Select the appropriate checkbox and adjust the rate to perform a periodic auto-send/receive when Outlook is offline.

Recommended Refresh Rates

While the most frequent refresh rate possible is every minute, don't set it for any less than five minutes, whether Outlook is online or offline. The problem with refreshing too frequently is that Outlook could be in the middle of downloading when it starts to download again. This can create duplicate messages and other errors. If you are waiting impatiently for a new email, press F9 when you are sure the program is not already downloading.