There are so many terms and acronyms in the email world that it's hard to keep up. One of those terms is "outbox," which is an important feature that often gets labeled as redundant until one of your emails gets stuck there.
So, what is an outbox in email, and what does it do? Believe it or not, some people think it's a place where emails go to die, which of course, is not the case. To clear up the misunderstanding and avoid mass email burials, we'll take a look at what the outbox is and what it does. We'll also explore some of the misconceptions about it and how to best use this feature for your marketing efforts. Stay tuned!
What Is Outbox?
An outbox is a designated folder in your email client where messages that you've sent, but haven't yet been delivered, are stored. The outbox is like a storage space for outgoing emails, messages in transit, and emails that haven't been sent.
However, the outbox can also be used as a folder where you can store messages that you want to leave for later. They'll stay there until you're ready to deal with them. This can be useful if you need to make sure a message is sent at a specific time or if you're away from your computer and don't want to miss any messages. Outboxes are also commonly used by marketers to send automated messages. In fact, for 64% of marketers, automated email marketing is one of the most popular ways of reaching customers.
Outbox vs Drafts
Sometimes, people use the term "outbox" synonymously with "drafts," but they're actually two different things. Let's take a closer look at each one.
An outbox is a place where messages go before they're sent. It's a folder in your email client that holds outgoing messages. If you hit "send" and your email isn't going through, it'll stay in your outbox until it can be delivered. For example, an email may stay in your outbox because the file or video you’re trying to send is too large.
Learn more: How to compress a video for email
A draft, on the other hand, is a message that you've started composing but haven't sent yet. It's not technically been sent until you hit "send." You can have multiple drafts of the same email and save them for later. A draft file will automatically be created in your email if, for instance, you start writing a message and then close it without sending it. The next time you open that draft, you can continue writing the message and hit "send" when you're ready.
To sum it up —an outbox is where messages go to be sent, while a draft is a message that you're working on and haven't sent yet. So, when people talk about an "outbox" in email, they're usually referring to the folder where outgoing messages are stored. Given the similarity of these two features, it’s no wonder some people think they’re the same.
Outbox vs Sent
The "outbox" is also often confused with the "sent" folder. But again, these are two different things. The outbox is where messages go when you hit "send." The sent folder is where messages go after they've been successfully delivered to the intended recipient(s).
Think of it this way, the outbox is like a holding area for outgoing messages. It's the last stop before a message is officially sent. Meanwhile, the sent folder is where messages go right after they've been delivered.
The outbox is important because it stores messages that haven't been sent yet. This means that if there's an issue with delivery, the message will stay in your outbox until the problem is fixed. For example, if you're offline or there's an issue with the server, your email will stay in the outbox until the issue is resolved and the connection is re-established.
The sent folder, on the other hand, is a record of messages that have been successfully delivered. Once a message has been delivered, it's removed from the outbox and stored in the sent folder.
How to Use an Outbox
Now that we know what an outbox is, let's look at how you can benefit from it.
The simplest way to use your outbox is to store messages that you wish to send later. This can be helpful if you are going to be away from your computer. It will serve as a reminder so you won't forget to send important emails when you get back to your desk.
Another way to use the outbox is to send messages at a specific time. This option can be useful if you want to make sure a message is received, say, first thing in the morning. To do this, use the “schedule send” feature, which is available in most email clients. Once you’ve scheduled the sending, the email will go into your outbox and stay there until the specified time.
And as we mentioned earlier, outboxes are commonly used by marketers to send automated messages. For example, you can use an outbox to automatically send a monthly newsletter or a weekly update at a specific time. And, given the growing newsletters engagement rate during COVID, your outbox will not only be a great tool to stay in touch with your subscribers, but it will help you do so without lifting a finger.
What Does It Mean When an Email Is in Your Outbox for a Long Time?
The messages are in your outbox, meaning they are waiting to be sent. But sometimes they can stay there for quite a lot of time. So, knowing simple things like what to do when an email is stuck in the outbox will help you troubleshoot the issue and get your messages on their way. Here are some reasons why this could happen:
- Your email client is not connected to the internet. Make sure you have an active internet connection before trying to send any emails.
- The server is down. In that case, your email client will be unable to connect and send the message.
- There's an issue with the email client. Try restarting your computer or using a different email client to see if that fixes the issue.
- The message is too large. Some email servers have restrictions on the size of attachments which could cause issues if you’re trying to send multiple photos or a large video. In most cases, when a message is too large, it will stay in your outbox until the problem is fixed, so sometimes it’s best to use other alternatives.
Learn more: How to send multiple photos in email
What Does Outbox Mean in Outlook?
As with most email clients, in Outlook, the outbox is a folder where outgoing messages are stored. One handy feature of the Outbox is the ability to set a message to be sent at a later time. This is called "delayed send."
To do this, simply compose your message as usual and then click the "Send Later" button. In the pop-up window, you can choose when you want the message to be sent. It can be set for a specific date and time or a certain number of hours, days, or weeks from now. Once you've scheduled a message for delayed send, it will remain in your Outbox until the specified time. At that point, it will be sent automatically.
Delayed send is commonly used by email marketing specialists and comes in handy when you want to make sure a message goes out at a specific time, or if you're unsure about when the recipient will be available to read it. This option will help you target your audience at the right time.
Also, if, for some reason, you need to make changes to a message after you've scheduled it for delayed send, simply open the message in your Outbox and make your edits. The new version of the message will be sent at the specified time.
What Does Outbox Mean in Gmail?
Gmail's outbox is similar to Outlook's in that it's a folder where outgoing messages are stored. However, in Gmail, the "delayed send" feature is actually called "schedule send."
To use this feature, compose your message as usual and then click the down arrow located next to the "Send" button and then select "Schedule Send." In the pop-up window, you can choose when you want the message to be sent. It can be set for a specific date and time or a certain number of hours, days, or weeks from now. Once you've scheduled a message with "schedule send," it will remain in your outbox until the designated time. At that point, it will be sent automatically. Note that Gmail allows you to schedule up to 100 messages.
Now that we’ve discussed the matter of what is an outbox in email and how to make the most of it, go ahead and put it to good use in your email communication. Outboxes are versatile tools that can help you better manage your emails and reach your target audiences exactly when you want. Whether you're trying to send a message while you're on the go or looking for a way to automate your email marketing, the outbox is an excellent option for email communication.