Outlook 2010 manual send/receive not working

And there I was, thinking that nothing could amuse me today, but Microsoft has delivered splendidly. Normally, I wouldn’t even poke Outlook with a stick, but like many unfortunate souls, I’m forced to use it at work.

Symptoms

For some odd reason, pressing the send/receive button manually had no effect whatsoever. Emails were sent and even received normally on Outlook start and at scheduled intervals, but there was no way to manually fetch them as needed.

The cause

It turned out that the option was accidentally switched off in the send/receive group settings, and Outlook thought it’s not worth mentioning to the user.

The solution below is for Outlook 2010, but as Microsoft is not in a hurry to re-design its user-friendly settings interface (with 250 small unresizable popup windows) since the early 2000s, it might actually be like this for at least another decade.

The solution

On the Send/Receive tab of the ribbon, click on Send/Receive Groups, then select Define Send/Receive Groups to open the popup window to change send/receive settings. Alternatively you can open the same window by clicking on File/Options, then in the Advanced section click on Send/Receive.

Make sure to check the box next to Include this group in send/receive (F9) for the All Accounts group, or if you’re one of those people who created multiple groups, cherry pick them to your heart’s content.

Close the settings window, click on Send/Receive and if all goes well, you email is being checked properly again on demand.

Conclusion

Why send/receive settings are considered “advanced features” in an email client is beyond me, but here’s a protip for UI designers: if you allow the user to completely obliterate the functionality of a big fat button in the middle of your interface, you might want to let the user know why clicking it a hundred times has no effect. A simple message box will suffice, giving the user the option to open the relevant settings page is just a bonus. It’s only a suggestion tough, I’m not one of the brilliant minds in Microsoft’s UX decision making board, who have recently done a brilliant job with the Windows 8 Metro interface.

In the meantime, can anyone enlighten me what exactly does send/receive do, when Outlook is offline? Because that’s an actual option. Or is it just offline from Exchange, but still connected to the internet? Nah, that’s enough crap uncovered for me today.

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