How to refresh my Outlook inbox mail when it is not automatically updating?

Applicable to: Outlook 365, 2019, 2016, 2013; Windows 10 / 11 / 8 /7 and macOS computers.

Here’s a question we got from a reader about her Microsoft Outlook client not showing new incoming emails automatically:

“Unlike when using my GMail account, it looks that my Microsoft Outlook 365 folders are not automatically updated with incoming email messages. It seems to me that any new email items are updated probably once in 15-20 minutes. I know that i can update Outlook by hitting F9 or use the Send/Receive All button command in the Outlook ribbon. My question to you is how can i possibly set Outlook to automatically update its Inbox folder more often, if possible as often as GMail does. If that’s not possible, can you explain how often mail check happens and how to refresh Outlook so that new inbox emails are shown as fast as possible?

Auto refresh Outlook desktop client mail

If you ever used Microsoft Office Outlook as your PC e-mail client, you might have noticed some delay in your inbox refresh rate. Typically, it takes your incoming mail a bit more time to arrive when compared to web email services such as Yahoo Mail, GMail and Those typically auto update your inbox folder entries whenever new email hits your mailbox.

In today’s tutorial, i will show you how to make your Outlook inbox update automatically in shorter intervals so that the latest incoming messages are shown once they hit your server.

Auto-update Outlook inbox on Windows

To automatically refresh your Outlook mailbox content, proceed as following:

  1. Open  Outlook, and hit the Send/Receive button.
  2. Click on Send/Receive Groups drop down box and select Define Send/Receive Groups.
  3. Under All Accounts, Click on Schedule an Automatic Send/Receive every.
  4. Change the Minutes value from the default value of 30 to a smaller number, for example 10. Note that setting this value to less than 5 min might lead to duplicated entries in your inbox.
  5. Close the dialog box.
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Increasing the refresh rate of all your Inboxes

  • In the Send/Receive Groups dialog (steps to open it explained beforehand), go to “Setting for group All Accounts
  • And then set the Schedule an automatic.. value to the required refresh rate. Again – beware the fact that too frequent updates could lead to duplicated Outlook email entries; which are generally time consuming to fix.

Auto-updating the Outlook calendar

To ensure your Outlook calendar is always up to date, proceed as following:

  • In the Send/Receive Groups dialog, hit the Edit button.
  • Then in the left hand side, ensure that your email account is marked.
  • Then under Folder Options ensure that your Calendar folder is marked.
  • Hit Apply.

Auto-update you Outlook global address / contact lists

  • Same as in the section above, just ensure that the Contacts folder is marked for auto sync.

Note: You can always trigger an update of your email folder by hitting F9.

Refresh email on macOS

If you are using Outlook on macOS  to read your GMail, Hotmail or Exchange email, you can shorten your Outlook folders synchronization interval, so that  auto update processes will be enabled and launched more often.

Kindly proceed as following:

  1. Open Outlook for the macOS.
  2. In the left bar, you’ll note your GMail, Hotmail / or Exchange Account.
  3. Make a right click and select Account Settings.
  1. The Accounts dialog will appear, at the bottom right of the screen hit the Advanced button.
  2. Open the Server tab and set your sync interval accordingly as shown below – Note that for IMAP accounts (GMail and the minimum value is 2 minutes.

Note: for slower connections like cellular hot spots, you might want to consider to check the Download message headers only box.

  1. Hit OK.
  2. Close the Accounts dialog.
  3. You are all set 🙂

Manually update Outlook web app

A couple of readers asked whether there is a possibility to trigger an auto update of the web client inbox. I personally don’t think that’s needed as emails are updated automatically, in the same fashion that Gmail or other web clients are.

As with any web app, you can hit F5 to refresh your browser and update your unread email list.

The above is applicable also for Outlook OWA users, whom connect to their companies Exchange server via their web browser..

Additional Reader questions

Refresh Outlook manually

Couple of readers asked how to manually trigger an update of their mailboxes.

On Windows:
Update all Outlook folders:

This procedure will trigger a Send/Receive action on all Online and offline accounts (could be exchange, Hotmail/, Yahoo, GMail) that are setup in your Outlook.

Side Note: that you might as well define specific Accounts/Folders group and trigger an update on those specifically. For example – refresh only your private GMail account and not work Exchange during weekends.

  1. Open the Send/Receive tab.
  2. Hit the Send/Receive All folders button (or simply hit F9).
Update a specific folder:
  1. Open the Send/Receive tab.
  2. Hit the Update Folder button.
On macOS:
Refresh your entire mailbox:
  • Enter the Home tab.
  • Hit the Send & Receive button.
Update specific folder:
  • Open the Organize tab.
  • Hit the Sync Folder button.

Use VBA to refresh your mailbox

The method SyncObjects  can be used in order to sync one or more Send/Receive groups for a specific user. In case you are interested in building a macro to automate your auto syncs, feel free to ping us via the contact page.

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