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What Is Outbox in Email? A Comprehensive Guide for Efficient Emailing

Explore email essentials: Understand how your email client works with mail servers to store and efficiently send outgoing messages.
Written by
Harsh P
Published on
January 22, 2024

What is Outbox in Email?

What is Outbox in Email?
What is Outbox in Email?

The outbox in email is a temporary holding area for emails that you've composed but haven't been sent yet. Emails stay in the outbox until they are successfully dispatched to their recipients.

Understanding Outbox vs. Sent Folder Vs. Draft Folder

Outbox Folder: The Outbox is a folder in your email client where messages wait to be sent. When you press "send," your email goes to the Outbox first. If there's a delay or problem in sending, like a too-large file or video, the email will remain in the Outbox until it can be successfully delivered. Once sent, emails move from the outbox to the sent items folder.

Sent Folder: The Sent Folder acts as a record of messages that have successfully been delivered. After a message is delivered, it moves from the Outbox to the Sent Folder for storage.

Draft Folder: A draft, on the other hand, is a message you start but haven't yet sent. It remains unsent until you press 'send.' You can save multiple drafts of the same email for later. If you begin composing a message and close it without sending it, your email automatically creates a draft file. When you reopen this draft, you can resume writing and send it once it's complete

How do Outbox, Sent, and Draft Folder Stores Messages?

The Outbox, Sent, and Draft folders in email clients like Outlook and Gmail have distinct roles in how they store messages. Each folder serves a specific function in the process of email communication:

Outbox Folder:

  • Function: The Outbox acts as a temporary holding area for emails that are in the process of being sent.
  • How it Stores Messages: When you compose an email and hit the 'send' button, the email moves to the Outbox. It remains there until the email client successfully sends the email. The Outbox ensures that the email is either sent or kept safe in case of issues like an unstable internet connection or problems with the mail server.

Sent Folder:

  • Function: The Sent folder is a record of all emails that have been successfully sent from your email account.
  • How it Stores Messages: Once an email is sent from the Outbox, it is then stored in the Sent folder. This folder serves as a confirmation that your email has been successfully delivered to the recipient's server. It acts as a log for all the emails you have sent, allowing you to review or reference them in the future.

Draft Folder:

  • Function: The Draft folder is used for storing emails that are currently being composed or have not yet been sent.
  • How it Stores Messages: When you start writing an email but do not send it immediately, the email client saves this unsent email in the Draft folder. This allows you to return to the email later, complete it, and then send it. It’s particularly useful for emails that require more time to compose or when you are interrupted in the middle of writing an email.

How to View and Edit Emails in the Outbox

Viewing Emails in the Outbox

  1. Open Your Email Client: Launch the email program you use, such as Outlook, Gmail, or any other.
  2. Navigate to the Outbox Folder:
  3. In Outlook and similar clients, the Outbox folder is usually located in the folder pane.
  4. For Gmail’s web version, the Outbox appears under 'More' on the left sidebar, especially if you’re using the scheduled send feature or if you lose internet connectivity.
  5. View the Emails: Click on the Outbox to see the emails waiting to be sent. These emails are usually ones that have been delayed due to connectivity issues or are scheduled to be sent later.

Editing Emails in the Outbox

  1. Select the Email: In the Outbox, click on the email you wish to edit.
  2. Open and Edit:
  3. For Outlook: Double-click the email to open it. Make any necessary changes like editing the text, adding or removing attachments, or changing the recipient's email address.
  4. For Gmail and Other Clients: If the email is in the Outbox due to a delay, you can open it and make edits directly.
  5. Resend or Save Changes:
  6. After editing, you can either hit 'send' again in Outlook or simply close the email to save changes. In Gmail, if it's a scheduled email, reconfirm the scheduled time.
  7. Make sure to check internet connectivity if the email was delayed due to connection issues.

Important Considerations

  • Editing Time Frame: You can only edit an email in the Outbox if it hasn’t been sent yet. Once an email leaves the Outbox and moves to the Sent folder, it cannot be modified.
  • Check Sending Status: If an email or multiple emails has been stuck in the Outbox for a long time, check for any error messages or connectivity issues that might be preventing it from being sent.
  • Be Cautious with Scheduled Emails: For scheduled emails (especially in Gmail), ensure you adjust the send time if necessary after editing.

How to Remove or Resend Emails from the Outbox

Removing Emails from the Outbox

  1. Access Your Email Client: Open the email program you’re using, be it Outlook, Gmail, or another.
  2. Locate the Outbox Folder:
  3. In Outlook and most desktop email clients, find the Outbox in the folder list.
  4. In Gmail’s web interface, the Outbox appears under 'More' on the left sidebar, especially if you’re dealing with scheduled sends or offline mode.
  5. Select and Delete the Email:
  6. Click on the Outbox, then right-click on the email you want to remove. Select 'Delete' or 'Move to Trash' to remove it from the Outbox.
  7. Ensure the email is not in the process of being sent to avoid deletion errors.

Resending Emails from the Outbox

  1. Open the Email: In the Outbox, double-click on the email you wish to resend. This opens the email for editing.
  2. Make Necessary Edits:
  3. Check the recipient's email address for accuracy.
  4. Edit the content or attachments if needed.
  5. Resend the Email:
  6. In Outlook: After editing, click 'Send' again. This will attempt to resend the email.
  7. In Gmail: If it's a scheduled email or delayed due to connectivity, adjust as necessary and then click 'Send'.

Troubleshooting Tips

  • Check Internet Connection: Ensure that you have a stable internet connection. A common reason emails get stuck in the Outbox is due to connectivity issues.
  • Review Email Size: Large attachments can hinder the sending process. Consider resizing or compressing attachments if they are too large.
  • SMTP Server Settings: Verify that your SMTP server settings are correct, as incorrect settings can prevent emails from being sent.

Understanding the Sending Process of an Outgoing Message in a Mail Server

Sending Process of an Outgoing Message in a Mail Server
Sending Process of an Outgoing Message in a Mail Server

The sending process of an outgoing message in a mail server involves several key steps:

  1. Composition: The journey starts in your email client, like Outlook or Gmail. When you compose an email and press 'send', the email client gets the message ready for dispatch. This is where your message transitions from a draft to an outgoing email.
  2. Outbox Stage: Next, the composed email moves to the Outbox folder. Here, it's temporarily stored, waiting for the email client to start the sending process. The Outbox is crucial as it holds the email until everything is set for delivery.
  3. Connection to Mail Server: The email client then connects to the outgoing mail server, often using the SMTP server (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol). This is a vital step for the email to leave your client and start its journey to the recipient.
  4. Authentication: Your mail server verifies your credentials, like your email account username and password. This authentication is essential to confirm your authority to send the email.
  5. Processing by Email Server: Once authenticated, the mail server processes the outgoing email. It checks the recipient's email address and the best route for email delivery, ensuring the message is successfully delivered.
  6. Sending to Recipient’s Server: The email is forwarded to the recipient’s mail server. This involves navigating through various networks and servers across the internet, an integral part of email communication.
  7. Queue in Recipient’s Server: Upon arrival at the recipient's server, your email might be queued before final delivery. This depends on the recipient's server's rules and current load.
  8. Delivery to Recipient: The ultimate goal is reached when the recipient's server delivers your email to the recipient's inbox.
  9. Confirmation to Sender: After the email is successfully delivered, the sender’s mail server typically sends a confirmation back to the email client. Subsequently, the email moves from the Outbox to the Sent folder, marking the completion of its journey.

How to Configure Outbox Settings in Email Servers

Configuring the Outbox settings in various email programs is a vital step for efficient email management. Whether you use Outlook, Gmail, or other email clients, proper configuration ensures your emails are sent smoothly. Here’s a guide on how to adjust these settings:

Setting Up Outbox in Outlook

  • Access Account Settings: Go to 'File' and then 'Account Settings'. Choose the email account you want to configure.
  • Adjust Sending Options: In the account settings, navigate to the 'More Settings' option. Under the 'Outbox' or 'Sending' tab, you can configure options like the time emails stay in the Outbox before sending.
  • Save Changes: After making the adjustments, click 'OK' to save your changes.

Setting Up Outbox in Gmail

  • Web-Based Interface: Gmail’s web interface automatically manages Outbox settings. However, you can adjust the 'Undo Send' feature in 'Settings' to give yourself more time to cancel a sent email.
  • Mobile App Configuration: In the Gmail app, go to 'Settings', select your account, and find any relevant Outbox settings under 'Sending' or 'General' settings.

Troubleshooting Common Outbox Issues & Solutions - Why Emails Get Stuck in Outbox

Dealing with emails stuck in the Outbox can be frustrating. Understanding why this happens is key to troubleshooting and ensuring smooth email communication. Let's explore common issues and their solutions.

Issue: A Message Contains a Large Attachment

  • Problem: Emails with large attachments often get stuck in the Outbox. This happens when the size exceeds the limits set by your email server or due to bandwidth issues.
  • Solution:
  • Reduce Attachment Size: Compress the file or use cloud storage links instead of attaching large files directly.
  • Check Server Limits: Consult your email provider's guidelines on attachment sizes and adjust accordingly.

Issue: Viewing the Outbox or Opening a Message While it is Waiting to be Sent

  • Problem: If you open an email in the Outbox or view the Outbox folder while the email is being sent, it can interrupt the sending process.
  • Solution:
  • Avoid Interference: Refrain from opening the Outbox or the email until the sending process is complete.
  • Resend if Necessary: If the email remains stuck, move it back to the Draft folder, then resend it.

Issue: Wrong or Changed Password for the Email Account

  • Problem: An incorrect or recently changed password can prevent emails from being sent, causing them to get stuck in the Outbox.
  • Solution:
  • Update Password: If you've recently changed your password, update the settings in your email client to reflect this change.
  • Verify Credentials: Ensure your email account credentials are correct in your email client settings.

Issue: Authentication with the Mail Server Does Not Work or Is Not Set Up Properly

  • Problem: Sometimes, emails get stuck in the outbox due to authentication issues with the mail server. This can occur if the settings in your email client are incorrect or if the server itself has authentication problems.
  • Solution:
  • Verify Server Settings: Check your email client’s server settings, especially SMTP server details, to ensure they are correct.
  • Contact Support Team: If the issue persists, contact your email provider’s support team for help with server authentication issues.

Issue: Outlook is Set to Work Offline or the Mail Server is Offline

  • Problem: If Outlook is set to work offline, or if there are connectivity issues with the mail server, emails will not be sent and will remain in the outbox.
  • Solution:
  • Switch from Offline to Online: In Outlook, ensure that you are working in online mode. You can toggle this in the 'Send/Receive' settings.
  • Check Server Status: If the mail server is offline, wait until it is back online or contact your IT department or email service provider for assistance.

Issue: No Account is Set as the Default One

  • Problem: Not having a default email account set in your email client can cause emails to get stuck in the outbox, as the client doesn’t know which account to use for sending.
  • Solution:
  • Set a Default Account: In your email client settings, designate one of your email accounts as the default for sending emails.
  • Review Account Settings: Ensure that all your email accounts are properly configured and authenticated in your email client.

Issue: Antivirus or Antispam Software is Scanning Your Outgoing Email

  • Problem: Antivirus or antispam software can sometimes interfere with the sending process by scanning outgoing emails, leading to them getting stuck in the outbox.
  • Solution:
  • Adjust Antivirus Settings: Configure your antivirus or antispam software to exclude your email client from its scanning process, or adjust the settings to reduce interference with outgoing emails.
  • Temporarily Disable Scanning: If the problem persists, try temporarily disabling the software while sending an email, and then re-enable it immediately afterward.

Issue: Identifying and Resolving Connectivity Issues

  • Problem: Poor internet connection can prevent emails from being sent, causing them to remain in the outbox.
  • Solution:
  • Check Internet Connection: Ensure that your device is connected to the internet and that the connection is stable.
  • Troubleshoot Network Problems: If there are network issues, try resetting your router or contacting your internet service provider for assistance with connectivity problems.

Issue: Handling Large Attachments and Delivery Delays

  • Problem: Emails with large attachments can take longer to send, resulting in them being delayed in the outbox.
  • Solution:
  • Compress Attachments: Before sending, compress large files to reduce their size, making them easier to send.
  • Use Cloud Storage Links: For very large files, consider using cloud storage services and sending a link to the file instead of attaching it directly to the email.

Effective Outbox Strategies to Maximize Email Delivery

Effective Outbox Strategies to Maximize Email Delivery
Effective Outbox Strategies to Maximize Email Delivery

Optimizing the use of the Outbox in your email client can significantly enhance your email delivery efficiency. Here are some strategies to effectively use the Outbox to maximize email delivery, applicable to various email clients like Outlook and Gmail.

1. Schedule Emails for Future Delivery

  • Utilize Scheduling Features: Many email clients, including Gmail and Outlook, offer the option to schedule emails to be sent at a later time. This is particularly useful for ensuring that your emails reach the recipient at an optimal time. The email will stay in the Outbox until the scheduled time.
  • How to Implement:
  • In Gmail, compose your email and click the dropdown next to the 'Send' button, then select 'Schedule send'.
  • In Outlook, use the 'Delay Delivery' option under the 'Options' tab in the message window.
  • Benefits: Scheduling emails can help manage recipient engagement, especially when dealing with multiple time zones or busy schedules.

2. Prioritize Emails in the Outbox

  • Organize Outbox Contents: Prioritizing emails in the Outbox can ensure that important emails are sent first. This is particularly useful in situations where email clients process multiple emails in the Outbox.
  • How to Implement:
  • Most email clients automatically send emails in the order they were queued. Manually reordering them in the Outbox isn’t typically an option, but you can strategically send important emails first.
  • For email clients with limited sending capacity, send high-priority emails individually to ensure they go out promptly.
  • Benefits: This strategy can be crucial during peak business hours or when sending time-sensitive information.

3. Automate for Outgoing Emails

  • Set Up Automation Rules: Automation can streamline how outgoing emails are handled in the Outbox.
  • How to Implement:
  • Use email client features or third-party tools to set rules for sending certain types of emails. For example, automatically sending a follow-up email after a certain period.
  • In corporate environments, email automation can be set server-side, especially for emails like newsletters or regular updates.
  • Benefits: Automation reduces manual effort, ensures consistency, and can improve the overall efficiency of email communication.

Concluding Thoughts on Outbox in Email

The Outbox plays a vital role in email management, serving as a key station for outgoing messages before they are successfully delivered. Mastering its use - from scheduling and prioritizing emails to automating sending processes - enhances the efficiency and reliability of your email communication.

Different email clients like Outlook and Gmail offer various Outbox functionalities, tailored to suit a range of user needs. Effectively leveraging the Outbox can significantly reduce issues like delayed or unsent emails, making it an indispensable tool in both personal and professional email environments.

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