Getting IMAP To: Field Information in Outlook 2003

Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 and IMAP have had a somewhat rocky marriage. Even Outlook Express, a non-blood relative, manages IMAP more effectively and a little more completely. A small example is reflected in the header content that Outlook retrieves from the server. IMAP4 revision 1 (rev1) servers hold Request for Comments (RFC) 2822 header information for every SMTP message received. Client implementations of IMAP can parse that header information and fetch values such as “Date:”, “Received:”, “Subject:” and “To:”. I might want to sort or search headers in my inbox, based on the value in the To: field at the client level online or offline. Outlook Express includes this value in its headers; this is common but optional in IMAP email clients. The Microsoft Office team dropped the To: value from its implementation of IMAP in Outlook to save bandwidth costs and make the connection more efficient. A trick I’ve found is to generate an arbitrary client-side rule in the Outlook Rules Wizard that queries the value of the To: field in some way. An example might be a rule to move messages addressed to [email protected] to a certain folder. Doing so forces Outlook to include the To: field information from the server when downloading IMAP message headers.

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