Keeping your Sent folder in sync across devices

Keeping your Sent mail folder in sync is a straightforward concept, but unfortunately in practice, many Mail applications work to undermine its simplicity. The way it should work is as simple as this:

  1. You must be using IMAP for your mail on all of your devices.
  2. You must designate a single folder on the server as your Sent folder
  3. You must configure your mail applications to store your sent messages on the server rather than locally and they must all recognize the single Sent folder as their 'official' Sent folder.
If your Sent folder is not syncing, then one of the above three statements must be false. Therefore to solve the problem, you must fix the configuration so that the folder name is consistent across all device AND that it's specified as a server-side folder, and not a local one.

When you add your mail account to your mail program, it should automatically configure your Sent folder in this manner. However, in some cases, such as with Apple Mail, it will automatically use a folder called "Sent Messages" instead of "Sent", which is inconsistent with other mail apps (including our own webmail) which prefer simply "Sent", causing you to need to switch between server-side folders to see all of your sent messages (rather than look in just one spot).

In other cases, your mail program will default to storing your sent messages locally (on your computer) rather than on the server, meaning you won't have access to them on any other device other than the one with the locally configured sent folder -- this is most likely to occur on a laptop or desktop and not a tablet or phone.
 
You can find the Sent mail folder configuration using the following directions. Be sure to select the correct ones of your device and mail app.

iOS5: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad

  1. Launch the Settings app
  2. Choose Mail Contacts and Calendars
  3. Select the account with which you are having trouble syncing the Sent folder
  4. Under IMAP tap on your Account. (NOTE: If it says POP, then you have to delete the account and re-add it as an IMAP account).
  5. Choose Advanced at the bottom
  6. Under Mailbox Behaviours, tap on "Sent Mailbox"
  7. Ensure that the folder called "Sent" is checked off under the "On the Server" section

Mac OS X 10.6 - 10.11 (Directions should be very similar for older versions of Mac OS X)

  1. Open Mail and choose the "Mail" menu in the upper left. Select Preferences.
  2. Choose the "Accounts" Tab at the top, then select the account you wish to adjust in the list on the left
  3. Select the "Mailbox Behaviours" tab on the right
  4. "Store sent messages on the server" should be checked. If it is not, check it.
  5. Close the Preferences window and choose to save your changes if prompted
  6. Follow the directions here to ensure you have selected the "Sent" mailbox on the server as the correct place to store Sent messages

Mac OS X 10.12 Sierra (Directions should be very similar for newer versions of Mac OS X)

  1. Open Mail and choose the "Mail" menu in the upper left. Select Preferences.
  2. Choose the "Accounts" Tab at the top, then select the account you wish to adjust in the list on the left
  3. Select the "Mailbox Behaviours" tab on the right
  4. Under "Sent Mailbox" be sure to select the correct mailbox -- the same one used by all other devices. It should *not* be under the "On My Mac" header, since that's an offline folder.
  5. Close the Preferences window and choose to save your changes if prompted

Outlook 2007 for Windows

  1. Select the Tools menu, then choose "Account Settings"
  2. Go to the Email Tab if it's not already selected
  3. Select the email account for which you wish to adjust the Sent folder, then choose the "Change" button
  4. Choose the "More Settings" button at the bottom of the newly opened window
  5. Click the "Folders" tab
  6. Select "Choose an existing folder..." if it's not already selected, then ensure that the Sent folder you want Outlook to use for Sent messages is selected in the list.
  7. Click OK to save

BlackBerry 10 OS & Outlook

The BlackBerry 10 OS will auto configure your sent folder for synchronization, however if you're using it with Outlook, you may need force Outlook to Synchronize folders to get things working properly with your BlackBerry 10 device. Instructions for synchronizing your IMAP folders can be found in the Microsoft Office Help Documentation by clicking here.

Other Mail Applications

Look for similar options for controlling the Sent mailbox behaviour in the mail application of your choice. When you find how to do it for your mail program that is not listed here, send over the instructions so we can post them for others to use!

Performance Note

Storing all your sent messages on the server is great for synchronization and easy access from all your devices, but as the Sent folder gets larger, your mail applications will begin to slow down when accessing it. This is even more obvious on mobile devices like the iPhone. We highly recommend creating a "Sent Archive" folder on your primary computer. Every 6 months or 1 year, drag and drop the year-old Sent items into the Sent Archive. Since they're messages from a year ago, you likely won't need to refer to them from your iPhone or other mobile device, but you will still have access to them from your home or work computer (whichever you do the archiving on).

If you do not use mail archives for old emails and your mailbox is massive in physical storage, we will be unable to help you with any performance-related mail issues you may encounter as a result.

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