What is SMTP folder?

The Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) is a standard protocol used to transfer electronic mail between servers, devices, applications, and more across the internet. The SMTP folder refers to the dedicated folder or directory in an email application, server, or device that handles all SMTP mail traffic.

What is SMTP folder?

When you send an email, your email application connects to an SMTP server to facilitate getting that message to the right recipient. Depending on the email client and configuration, copies of these sent messages may be saved in a designated SMTP folder for record-keeping and easy access. Understanding what this folder is and how to optimize it can improve email efficiency.

How the SMTP Folder Works

Here is a quick overview of how the SMTP folder fits into the email workflow:

  1. Compose email – You draft an email message in your email application (Outlook, Gmail, etc).
  2. Connect to SMTP server – When you hit send, the client connects through SMTP, which directs where the mail needs to go. No mailbox needed yet.
  3. SMTP folder stores copy – By default some clients save copies of all sent mail in the dedicated SMTP folder for your reference.
  4. Mail routed to recipient – Simultaneously, the SMTP server routes your mail to the recipient’s email server for delivery to their inbox.

So in essence, the SMTP folder serves as your outbox, keeping copies of everything you send out through SMTP on your local machine or email hosting service.

Key Characteristics

These are some key defining characteristics of the SMTP folder in various email clients and services:

    Houses locally-stored copies of sent mail – The main purpose is record keeping of your sent items. By default, most email services save your sent messages to this folder for easy access later instead of just sending it out and forgetting it.

    May contain only partial email data – In some cases, the SMTP folder only retains header information from the email whereas the body/attachments are not captured.

    Accessible within email client – The SMTP folder lives within your native email application for fast access, as opposed to having to log into a web interface.

    Syncs with mail server – If you connect multiple devices/apps to the same mail account, the SMTP sent items are synced across these clients in most cases.

    Customizable settings – Depending on email client, you may be able to configure auto-archiving preferences for your SMTP folder.

Common Email Clients/Providers

Here is how popular email platforms handle saved copies of your sent mail behind the scenes:

Microsoft Outlook

    Folder Name – Sent Items

    Stores – Full message data for POP/IMAP accounts. Partial data for Exchange accounts.

    Sync – Server syncs sent files across all connected devices/apps.


    Folder Name – Sent Mail

    Stores – Full emails including attachments by default.

    Sync – Sent mailbox syncs across devices and mobile apps via Gmail servers.

Yahoo Mail

    Folder Name – Sent

    Stores – Full sent message available by default.

    Sync – Sent folder viewable from any device/app connected to account.

iCloud Mail

    Folder Name – Sent Messages

    Stores – Full emails stored automatically.

    Sync – iCloud sent box consistent across Apple devices using the service.

As you can see, most major providers have baked sent mail management through SMTP into their platforms for convenience. Folder names may vary, but the capabilities are generally similar.

User Benefits

Maintaining a dedicated SMTP folder in your email system offers some potential perks for users:

  1. Review sent messages – Easily check on status of important mail you’ve sent and follow up if issues.
  2. Reference content – Quick access to copies of emails with key information you need to refer back to later on.
  3. Accountability & records – Record of email communications for audit trail purposes if ever needed.
  4. Continuity – Pick up where you left off without having to search mail server for your outgoing messages.
  5. Resend mail – Quickly resend messages that may have not gone through or contained errors easily.

For most, having a local SMTP folder is about convenience in managing communications rather than needing robust archival functionality. But advanced features are often there for power users as well.

Storage Optimization Tips

If retaining copies of all your sent mail is resulting in an bloated SMTP folder, here are some tips for optimizing storage usage:

Auto-Archive Older Messages

Set up auto-archiving rules to clear older sent items to different storage after a defined period (15 days, 1 month etc). Archives still accessible if needed.

Manually Delete Unneeded Items

Actively prune your SMTP folder by sorting oldest to newest and bulk deleting old sent items you likely will not reference again.

Switch to No Copy Setting

Some clients allow you to disable copying messages to the SMTP folder automatically so only what you manually add gets retained locally.

Download Less Frequently on Mobile

For mobile usage, reduce download frequency for your sent items to manual vs automatic to avoid overloading device storage capacity.

Use Online Archive Instead

Rely on webmail archive functionality instead local SMTP records for travelling/mobile needs to reduce sync demand.

The key with any of these is evaluating your needs, email usage patterns and applying reasonably retention rules tailored to those objectives.

Key Takeaways

    The SMTP folder contains locally saved copies of emails you have sent for easy access and refers specifically to the sent items box.

    It works with the SMTP mail transfer protocol to facilitate routing and retaining message history.

    Most major email providers offer this type of native sent items functionality that syncs across devices.

    While useful for reference, large volumes of sent mail can quickly overload SMTP folders which may require optimization.

    Set up auto-archive policies, prune older messages manually, disable auto saving to the SMTP box or leverage online mail history tools to alleviate storage capacity issues if they occur.


In summary, the SMTP folder is essentially your email outbox, storing copies of sent messages using the SMTP protocol for managing mail transfers. It can be a valuable tool for increased productivity, accountability, and workflow continuity by having send-item history close at hand. Optimizing storage settings based on usage patterns helps keep this folder functioning efficiently. Most modern email platforms are designed to handle basic SMTP sent-mail functionality out the box to make life easier for everyday users.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Does the SMTP folder store all sent emails?
    It usually stores full message data including attachments automatically, but some platforms may save partial data or headers only by default. The capability is there but needs to be enabled.
  2. Can you recover deleted messages from SMTP?
    If auto-archiving of the SMTP folder is enabled, then deleted messages could potentially be recovered from the archive files depending on provider retention policies. Otherwise recovery options may be limited.
  3. Does the SMTP folder take up space?
    Yes, each message stored in the SMTP directory takes up a portion of allotted mailbox storage capacity just like your inbox, folders etc. It’s important to optimize this space by archiving as needed.
  4. Is SMTP folder required for emailing?
    No – SMTP mail sending will work regardless, but having the dedicated SMTP folder to retain copies of sent messages enables easier record keeping, continuity and other benefits. It’s useful but optional in most email clients.
  5. Is the SMTP folder stored locally or on server?
    Typically a local copy in your native email application is kept in sync via the SMTP server with sent item copies accessible through the server webmail interface or mobile app connected to the same account.
  6. How do I find my SMTP folder?
    In desktop/laptop email applications like Outlook or Apple Mail, look in the folders section for Sent, Sent Items, Sent Messages etc. Usually top-level next to your Inbox. On mobile devices, access the menu and look for Sent or Sent Mail folder.
  7. How do I clear my SMTP folder?
    Open the SMTP folder, select messages you want to remove, delete selected items or purge contents to empty the folder quickly. Some email clients offer auto-archive/delete functions for sent mail older than X days as well.
  8. Should I keep all sent emails?
    Keeping at least 1-2 weeks of your most recent sent mail in SMTP can be beneficial for reference and records, but retaining years of sent messages likely serves no purpose and will just consume excess storage capacity. Implement auto-archiving.
  9. Can you search the SMTP folder?
    Yes – most email services allow search within your SMTP directory just like with your inbox folders to quickly find messages you sent containing specific keywords, names, dates, attachments types and more.
  10. Does deleting SMTP folder delete emails?
    No, removing or deleting the SMTP folder itself will not erase the messages kept in server mailbox history. However deleting messages inside the SMTP folder without archiving will permanently delete those sent items.
  11. Is SMTP folder the same as sent folder?
    Yes, SMTP folder and sent folder refer to the same saved cache of messages you have transmitted via SMTP for reference and records within your email client.
  12. Why are old emails still in my SMTP folder?
    If you don’t have auto-archive policies enabled for your sent mail, old messages will remain stored in your SMTP folder indefinitely, continuing to consume your storage allowance. Set up auto-delete rules based on age.
  13. What happens if SMTP folder is full?
    If your SMTP directory reaches maximum storage capacity, sending any new mail may fail and you won’t be able save copies of newly sent messages in SMTP until space is freed up via deleting older messages and/or enabling auto-archiving functionality.
  14. Should I empty my sent items folder?
    There is no requirement to manually purge sent messages frequently, but implementing auto-archive protocols to clear older items while retaining only 1-2 months locally in the SMTP folder is recommended to preserve storage capacity.
  15. Can you export SMTP folder?
    Yes, even with auto-archive rules enabled, most email platforms provide options to export or download all contents of your SMTP directory as a backup before messages get purged automatically later according to retention policies.
  16. Is SMTP folder encrypted?
    Encryption protocols like SSL are typically implemented for securing messages in transit between SMTP mail servers. But messages at rest within local SMTP folders are not automatically encrypted end-to-end unless additional provisions have been established.
  17. Can you print SMTP folder contents?
    Yes, all major email clients allow printing of messages stored locally including the SMTP sent items folder. Select messages and choose Print function to send to designated printer.
  18. What is Disconnected SMTP?
    This refers to a standalone mode that allows drafting email when disconnected from the server which will then utilize SMTP to send messages upon reconnection with the mail host rather than live transfer.
  19. 19 Texas. Is SMTP folder secure?
    While there are risks of compromising an SMTP server itself that could expose message, most protocols provide decent protections against things like man-in-the-middle attacks between sender and recipient. However, users should still be cautious about phishing risks.

  20. What port does SMTP use?
    TCP port 25 communicating via SMTP protocol controls routing mail between severs over the internet. Mail clients initiate outbound TCP 25 connections temporarily to servers on port 25 for SMTP message sending.

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