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7 ways to troubleshoot if your Outlook account is not receiving emails

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  • If your Outlook account is not receiving emails, there are several potential issues you should check on.
  • Make sure the message wasn’t marked as spam or processed by an Outlook rule, and check your internet connection.
  • Here are seven of the best troubleshooting tips for fixing Outlook when it won’t receive an email message. 

Most people utterly depend on email for day-to-day communication for business and personal use. That’s why it’s such a crisis when Outlook fails to work in mundane ways, such as not receiving email. If you are expecting an email message and it’s failed to arrive, here are seven of the best ways to troubleshoot and resolve your problem. Follow the steps below and in most cases you’ll be receiving email in no time.

Did it go to junk mail?

This might seem obvious in hindsight, but many people forget to check their junk or spam filter when waiting for an important message. It’s far from uncommon for messages to be sent to spam in error, so double check to see if it got filed there. 

If you find an important message in the spam folder, select it and then click the Home tab in the ribbon menu. Click Junk and then choose Never Block Sender from the drop-down menu to prevent problems with similar email in the future. 

Junk mail options in OutlookIf you find the missing email in a junk or spam folder, you can “whitelist” the message so that doesn’t happen again.

Dave Johnson

Make sure Outlook isn’t offline 

Outlook can be set to both online and offline mode, and it’s possible the program is currently offline. Check the status at the bottom right of the Outlook window; you should see Connected. If it says Offline, click the Send/Receive tab in Outlook’s ribbon and then click Work Offline. This should de-select the mode and you should see the status revert to Connected.  

Check your internet connection

If the status is still offline after that, you might actually have an internet connection problem. To test, try to open a web page in a browser. If you can’t access the internet at all, reboot your WiFi network (unplug your internet modem and WiFi router, leave them powered off for at least two minutes, and then plug them back in again). After the network is fully restarted, test your connectivity again. Still down? You might need to contact your internet service provider for support. 

Restart Outlook

If you have a reliable internet connection but you’re still not receiving email, close, and restart Outlook. You can’t just close the Outlook window, because Outlook leaves services running in the background. To make sure Outlook is fully closed, use the Task Manager. 

1. Click Start and then type “task manager.”

2. Click Task Manager in the search results when you see it appear. 

3. Click Microsoft Outlook and then click End task

4. Start Outlook again. 

Double-check for rules

This might not be a common problem, but it can crop up occasionally. If you have configured Outlook to automatically process email with rules, the email might have triggered a rule, been automatically processed, and then filed in a different folder, avoiding the inbox entirely.

If you’re not sure if you have a rule that might have diverted your email, click the Home tab in the ribbon menu. Click Rules, then Manage Rules & Alerts. Check the Rules & Alerts dialog box for relevant rules, and then review the rule to see where the message was sent.

Rules and Alerts in OutlookCheck your rules to make sure that the email you’re waiting for wasn’t automatically diverted to another folder.

Dave Johnson

Does the email contain a large attachment?

If someone tries to send you an email with a large attachment, it may be stopped by your internet service provider. You’ll never know it was received but prevented from going all the way to your computer. Reach out to the email’s sender and, if there were attachments, ask for the email to be sent with just the message text. The sender can provide you with links to the files stored in a cloud service like Dropbox or OneDrive. 

Repair Outlook or your profile

Finally, Microsoft offers some tools that can potentially repair Outlook if certain aspects of the program get corrupted. If you still can’t receive email, it might be time to try to repair Outlook. This is a time-consuming process (it can take an hour) so save this for a last resort. 

Click Start and then choose Settings. In the Settings app’s search box, type “apps” and then choose Add or Remove programs when it appears in the search results. Scroll down the app list and find Microsoft Office (depending on your version of Office, it might be labeled differently, like Microsoft 365). Click the three-dot menu to the right and choose Modify. Choose Online Repair and then click Repair

If this doesn’t fix the problem, you can also try to repair your email account profile. In Outlook, choose File, then Account Settings and then choose Account Settings again from the drop-down menu. In the Accounts Settings dialog box, click the email account that won’t send mail and click Repair

Account settings in OutlookYou can try to repair your email account — it’s time-consuming, but might solve a problem with a corrupted file.

Dave Johnson

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