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Can I read web mail using a pop3 mail reader?

I use a web-based email service like Yahoo or
Hotmail – is there a way to read that email in a ‘regular’ pop3 email program like outlook?

The answer not surprisingly is: it depends. But first, a quick definition.

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POP3, which stands for “Post Office
Protocol version 3”, is the defacto standard for email retrieval by
stand-alone email clients. When your email program, for example
Outlook Express, downloads your email from your ISP, chances are it’s using the POP3 protocol. Web based services skip this
step because your email is never downloaded to a separate client. It’s
simply displayed via a web page you access.

Web based email has long been used as a way to check email while
you’re away from the computer. For example many ISPs offer a web
interface to your email in addition to a POP3 interface. Even if your
ISP does not offer such an interface, many of the independent web based
email services such as Yahoo or Hotmail allow you to view your POP3
based email in their web interfaces.

But what if you have the reverse situation? You have all of your email
in a Web-only service and would like to download it into a off-line
mail client?

That’s where the “it depends” comes in. And even then the news isn’t
really all that good.

With most services you are unfortunately out of luck. Most
services, Yahoo included, do not have a separate interface to download
email into an offline client.

“Web based email has long been used as a way to check email while you’re away from the computer.”

In fact, Hotmail is the only web based service I’m aware of that
supports a downloading client. And even then the only client it
supports is Outlook Express. Periodically there are rumors that Hotmail
will be dropping Outlook Express support but they have yet to pan out.
And much like dropping support for Outlook Express completely, which
Microsoft announced earlier this year and then reversed, this feature
of Outlook Express is so popular that I’d expect a similar public
backlash.

Note that Outlook (not Outlook Express – see
here if that confuses you) claims support for Hotmail as well – however it simply amounts to viewing the
Hotmail web page within Outlook and is not a true download.
Microsoft has
this article in the Knowledgebase that discusses
how to set up this feature in Outlook.

Update: Since this article was published I’ve become aware of a couple of tools that can make Hotmail and Yahoo mail available via any pop3/smtp mail application. They require a little bit of configuration on your part and run as background processes on your machine, but they provide a layer that translates between the normal POP3 and SMTP protocols and the Hotmail or Yahoo web or proprietary interfaces. These said tools are Hotpop for Hotmail accounts and Yahoo Pops, an open source project for Yahoo mail. These are definitely not endorsed by Hotmail or Yahoo.

I’ve also become aware of the fact that while Outlook 2000 functions as described above, Outlook 2002/XP and Outlook 2003 do support Hotmail directly.

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40 comments on “Can I read web mail using a pop3 mail reader?”

  1. Hello,

    I use this great program called Pop Peeper to monitor my Yahoo inbox, and YahooPops to manage my Bulk mail.

    http://www.poppeeper.com

    I only use it for yahoo but it also supports many other web mail brands.

    Thanks

    Liam Gilmartin

    Reply
  2. You can now access your Hotmail with Outlook Express using HTTPmail.

    In Outlook Express, go to Tools > Accounts > Add > Mail. Type in your full Hotmail email, including @hotmail.com. For server type, select HTTP. Under Server Information, ensure Hotmail is selected from the drop down menu. Enter all the other details. Click next, and you are done.

    If you need to email me, click on my name and remove (nospam) in “To” box

    Reply
  3. hi i’m sorry my english is not good
    i have a problem i use yahoomail not that pop3
    how can i setting that if i use ms outlook, what how about the server URL ? thanks for your help

    Reply
  4. There is no official way to read Yahoo mail in anything other than the Yahoo web interface. So there’s no Yahoo-approved way to use Outlook for this.

    Previous comments on this article (above where you posted) have suggeted a third-party application that may work, but I have no experience with it.

    Reply
  5. dewangkara,

    If you are still having trouble with getting Yahoo POP3 to work,

    incoming server name is pop.mail.yahoo.com

    outgoing server name is smtp.mail.yahoo.com

    Check the box next to My outgoing server requires authentication.

    You need to enable POP3 in your Mail Options menu.

    Leo,

    International Yahoo accounts still have POP3 by enabling Yahoo Delivers. For example, if you are sign up in uk.yahoo.com, you have POP3 access. Same with Yahoo Australia, China, Brazil, etc.

    Reply
  6. Ok here’s an update, apparently MSN won’t allow you to download your Hotmail account with Outlook Express unless you upgrade to a paid account. This is another shamefull example of how they wish to perpetuate an already exhoborant monopoly, not only do we have to buy their software but have to pay to redeem our own mail now, its riddiculous! If anyone knows anyway around this I’d be glad to hear it

    Reply
  7. for hotmail you can use pop3hot.com for both the incoming and outgoing server name, I think you might have to pay for after the trial is up though, I’m not sure on that I just started using it my self.

    Reply
  8. I am still using POP3 access on one of yahoo’s free accounts. yahoo.com.br but as for a yahoo.com regular account you can’t unless you updrade to a plus account.

    Reply
  9. Many of the international Yahoo Mail providers still offer free POP3 access through their Yahoo Delivers program. (E.g. Canada: mail.yahoo.ca, UK: mail.yahoo.co.uk)

    Reply
  10. Probably not. Most pop3 email clients are configured to download the mail, which brings the mail to the machine that the mail program is on, removing it from the pop3 server. SOme clients (Outlook and OE for example) allow you to specify that the email should be left on the server, but that’s an additional step you’d need to take on all email programs that access your mail. Even then, there’s additional work as it would leave all your email on the server, possibly running into out of space or mailbox full issues. It really depends on the specifics of your situation.

    Reply
  11. I’ve been using the Foxmail 5.0 email client to access all my Yahoo! and Hotmail webmail accounts as well as all my other POP3 emails. It works great! Previously, I had to use YahooPOPs and HotPOP. But with Foxmail, it’s all built-in. The web to POP3 layer runs as a service but is only loaded whenever it is needed. In the past, I had to use scripts with other email clients to start and stop YahooPOP and HotPOP. Furthermore, Foxmail also has a built-in bayesian spam filter.
    I find this email client a blessing and I think it’s an excellent client that answers the needs addressed in this article. It can also easily import and export from Outlook Express.
    It’s quite stable and email viruses don’t seem to bother it. I can also turn off HTML email in specific accounts. Find out for yourself from their website here: http://www.foxmail.com.cn/english/english_2.htm
    By the way, it’s totally FREE!

    Reply
  12. I *think* Google’s GMail allows you to do that.

    Most free services do not because if you use Outlook, they cannot present you with the advertising that pays for the service.

    Reply
  13. If you are going to post a comment with a question like ‘WHAT ARE THE POP3 SERVERS FOR SUCH AND SUCH’ or ‘GIVE ME THIS AND GIVE ME THAT’, or pretty much any QUESTION, then here’s what you should do (IMHO):

    Open Notepad. Type the comment that you would have typed on this page. Save it on the desktop. Drag the file from your desktop to your RECYCLE BIN. Right click on the recycle bin and select ‘Empty Recycle Bin’.

    Post COMMENTs, not QUESTIONS! 😉

    Reply
  14. Hi Leo,
    I’ve just bought myself a shiny new 3G phone and have stayed up all night playing about with it and setting up all the bits and bobs. I was hoping to set up a pop3 account so that I could read my Hotmails via my phone, but I couldn’t find their pop3 details on their website. Their help page wasn’t helpfull, and a search using their homepage (‘pop3 settings hotmail’) sent me to your site – which at least explained why I couldn’t find what I was after.
    Since reading that most of your focus was for Outlook Express, and since typing my comment, it has occured to me that I had had a set-up via Hotmail to send emails to an older phone (which I promptly cut-off as I couldn’t effectively filter out all the junk mail). This had been set-up via their site, so surely I should be able to do this again…ahha! Yes, there’s a handy link on the left of the page – but! a) it contains the delightfully cheery message “You only pay for the messages you send and receive” – note the last, key word there, and b) they don’t have the 3 network available for this service – probably just as well, then.
    So, sorry to waste your time – and indeed, mine – I could just click the little red cross in the top right hand corner right now, but I’ve made the effort to find, read and reply to your site, so I feel the least I could do is to leave a rambling comment on it at 5:09am!
    Morning Leo, thanks for your help, Alex.

    Reply
  15. I don’t know about hotmail pop mail, I like Leo’s idea of keeping it for a disposable address. Since I was on dialup “in the sticks” I opted to purchase the yearly package from Yahoo for 19 bucks so I could download mail and hang up. You get all kinds of extras with that package and you never have to look at an ad. I’ve only had one website refuse to accept the yahoo address as my default mailbox. I send mail from my yahoo address(through outlook) even though my port 25 is restricted to my ISP. When you purchase Yahoo, they give you the port # to use to send your mail from outlook. Nope, it won’t work after you cancel the upgrade pkg.!

    Reply
  16. Hi Leo,

    OK, I understand what you said about Hotmail & Yahoo mails getting downloaded using Outlook Express. What about other free e-mails in the www ? Can I use OE to download them too ? Or do I need a site-specific software (i.e. YahooPops, HotPops, etc.). The site I’m talking about is http://www.30gigs.com. Help me out, will ya ?

    Tks from Mary.

    Reply
  17. Since this article was written, support was dropped from hotmail to outlook. But, if you’re using outlook 2007, you can get the outlook connector. It’s a plugin from microsoft which lets you download webmail into outlook properly.

    Reply
  18. Hi Leo,
    gmail seems to work okay with Outlook, are there any pop3 and smtp settings for hotmail? There are numerous articles but no definitive answers.

    I have several articles on this site that answer that. The short version is this:

    NO – Hotmail does not provide POP3 and SMTP servers to access your mail. Period.

    YES – You can use some specific email programs like Windows Live Mail or an add-on to Microsoft Outlook to access your Hotmail.

    NO – Outlook Express Hotmail access is being phased out and is no longer supported.

    YES – There are third-party add-ons for Thunderbird that, while not officially supported by Hotmail or Microsoft, do allow you to download your Hotmail into Thunderbird.

    Hope that helps clarify things. 🙂

    -Leo

    Reply
  19. I`ve been using the Thunderbird add-on, Webmail,
    http://webmail.mozdev.org for some time now to retrieve mail from both my Hotmail and Yahoo accounts and it works well. It seems to be the only one which is consistently reliable. The author is pretty quick to update when either of the services alter their methods. Why bother with Outlook Express, I say!

    Reply
  20. Hi, just wanted ti let you know, that you can acces your hotmail account in outlook using a small program called “Outlook Connector”, google it!!! 🙂

    Reply
  21. Gmail supports POP3 clients and gives full instructions about how to set up the account in Outlook. There are a variety of options, such as whether to leave a copy of the mail oon the server after retrieval by Outlook.

    I definitely don’t share your views on free email accounts, Leo. I have found Gmail to be great. True, the account gets a lot of spam, but they have a really excellent filter and put 99.99% of it in a special spam folder.

    Reply
  22. You mentioned YahooPops and HotPops. However, there is another piece of software that covers a variety of email accounts: FreePOPS. It works well with Yahoo, Hotmail and Netzero. At least those are all that I’ve tried it on. It purports to handle AOL and Juno, as well as a variety of others.

    Reply
  23. My query is that I cant use windows mail included in most/all windows programmes because of the way I connect to the internet.I have a laptop and I use a plug-in dongle (like a flash drive) which connects via a radio signal exactly the same way as a mobile phone. Because of this 02 who supplied me with the dongle cant give me the pop3 and smtp configurations which includes email address etc, and this is why I have to use hotmail.It seems I could only use w.mail if I connected to internet using a phone line like the old dial-up, or a router. Any help on this would be appreciated.

    Reply
  24. LEO, an update of this VERY IMPORTANT article of yours is badly needed: it’s 5 years old. I have never been able to find a satisfactory method to manage a Yahoo! Mail account using Office Outlook: I’ve tried FreePops, Ypops, you name it. Results have been mostly awkward, or outright disastrous: mail is never read, outgoing mails are never sent (or sending mail is plainly unsupported), the whole of Outlook hangs up, etc., or (about the most annoying bug) the same piece of e-mail gets downloaded dozens of times. Just imagine receiving a bunch of 33 e-mails on a given morning, with each one having a dozen replicas! I hope you feel there’s a need to do some research and (hopefully) find fresh solutions to this old problem (please!). Thanks a lot!

    Even after all this time I’m not aware of a viable solution for Yahoo. Both Gmail and Hotmail support direct POP3 access.

    Leo
    01-Sep-2010

    Reply

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