Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

When your email program starts repeatedly asking you for your password, it's a sign of a problem. 99 times out of 100 it's the same, simple problem.

I have and use, on occasion, Microsoft Outlook as a default mail program. When I go to use the program, the login menu comes up asking me for my password. In my settings, I checked, remember password. I click "OK" and the damned thing keeps coming back and back and back each time I click OK. How can one stop this? After about a dozen or so clicking on "OK" and it will leave me alone for a short while.

That's Outlook's way of saying something's wrong.

I kid you not.

In fact, it's a very common technique - many email programs will keep asking you for your password even if you've specified it and specified that it should be remembered.

They just do a really, really bad job at telling you why they keep asking.

The 99% Cause

By far the most common cause is excruciatingly simple:

You got your password wrong.

"... 99 times out of 100 it's because the password being used is wrong."

Don't scoff. This is, again by far, the most common cause for this happening.

First, check the CAPS LOCK key on your keyboard. That's often a simple cause - you think you're typing in AReallyGreatPassword, when in fact you're typing in arEALLYgREATpASSWORD, which is most certainly not the same thing.

Second, see if you can login to your email service's web interface right away. For people that have had their account hacked this behaviour is often the first symptom. If you can't login to the web interface because it says your password is wrong, it's not your mail program that's at fault here; you have bigger problems.

Bottom line: most of the time the problem is just getting the password wrong. Make sure it works elsewhere, and make sure you're typing it in properly.

So, what if it's not the password?

The other 1%

When you go to check (or send) email, your mail program such as Outlook connects to your mail server and presents it with your account ID and password. If the mail server rejects the connection for just about any reason the mail program will often pop up the password dialog.

The mail program is basically saying "huh, I couldn't login, the password must be wrong" - even when it's not.

Like I said, not very helpful.

So the list of things that could be wrong and cause that behaviour is long and varied. Here are some ideas of things to check, or check into:

  • The mail server itself could be having problems. If your email had been working and this just suddenly started, I'd call this about half of the one percent case we're looking at. This isn't something you can fix. See if you can find online status of some sort from your email service provider. Typically, this just goes away after a while.

  • In the email program's account information that you provided to configure the email account, the POP3 or IMAP server name could be wrong.

  • In the email program's account information that you provided to configure the email account, the SMTP server name could be wrong.

  • In the email program's account information that you provided to configure the email account, your account user ID could be wrong.

  • Your internet connection could be down or it could be having problems.

  • A firewall could be blocking your attempts to connect to your mail server.

  • ... and lots of other reasons.

And of course there's always malware to consider as well.

But the important thing to realize is that this is not the email program's failure to remember your password. Instead, it's the email program's inability to connect and authenticate with your email service provider.

And 99 times out of 100 it's because the password being used is wrong.

Article C4495 - October 21, 2010 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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17 Comments
Jeff Lentz
October 22, 2010 10:50 AM

I'm not sure I agree with the 99%/1% assessment. That would imply that 99% of people who have this problem have never had their e-mail working, and I find that hard to believe. Most people figure out they have a bad password as part of setting e-mail up in the first place. My e-mail works "most" of the time, but I do occasionally get this request when my mail server is unresponsive. The other common problem is that, during setup, people forget to check the box that says "remember password". It is possible to set your e-mail program up to require authentication every time it checks...

I might go as low as 90/10, but this happens frequently when the passwords change via the web site (as someone else pointed out), and when people get a new machine or setup a new email program. Often.
Leo
24-Oct-2010

Ziggie
October 22, 2010 12:22 PM

Then there are the people who change their password through the web interface but never update their email client...

DWR
October 22, 2010 9:12 PM

Outlook... which version? What e-mail?

Older versions require Outlook Connector to connect to webmail such as Hotmail. Outlook Connector is notorious for asking for your password.

David
October 25, 2010 7:13 AM

I get this from time to time and it is virtually never because of a wrong password because I have it entered into my account properties with a check to "remember password." When I get the login menu it seems to be because the mail server is down. I just close the window, wait a while, and try again.

Gerard
October 26, 2010 9:16 AM

When I was having this problem with Outlook and Gmail once, something I read on Google suggested that the mail server suspected some kind of automated POP3-based spam attack and just wanted the human to authenticate on the Web, which I did and which fixed the problem, so I do this as a matter of course now whenever the problem occurs.

Kelley
October 26, 2010 10:49 AM

This happens with our pop3 business account occasionally. It's usually brief and albeit annoying, infrequent. The problem is that someone in the office invariably changes their password accidentally.

When you keep outlook open all the time it pops that error message to the front of anything else you are working on in an active window by default. If you are in the middle of typing something and hit enter before you realize the message was there you can easily alter your saved password.

My question is can you keep that message from coming up active in front of everything?

Carl R. Goodwin
October 26, 2010 11:18 AM

I have the same problem with Thunderbird and AOL. Everything was ok up until 3 years ago, and somehow my email account decided to send out spam to hundreds of different people, who in turn complained to AOL. Now, even though I told them I had nothing to do with it, they seemed to have put some type of blocker on my accounts. When I try to transfer several different emails from one AOL account to another (mine) AOL account, it thinks that I am spamming people, and asks for my password. The only way that I can get around this is to send (transfer/copy/forward) no more than 3 emails at a time.

John
October 26, 2010 12:05 PM

Had this problem with outlook 2003. I read all I could on the password problem and found no answers. finally got it going!!
Make sure you enter your pop server as pop3. Then make sure you have all info entered. Click test message button. If outlook fails to connect then click more settings and enter each box including display name and reply address. Go back and click send test message.......worked for me!!

Malcolm
October 26, 2010 3:20 PM

My Outlook 2003 remembers the ID/password information (check box ticked) so for me it is never because of a wrong password. It used to occur quite often with my former (technically incompetent) ISP but occurs very rarely with my current (Australian top tier) ISP thus supporting the theory that my problem is with the ISP or internet connection.

Bruce
October 26, 2010 4:24 PM

I agree with Malcolm, this is very aggravating when it happens, but it is never truly a password or POP3 issue. I have 3 email accounts that Outlook 2003 handles. When this happens (infrequently), it is almost always just one of the accounts affected. The other two work without interruption. Plus, when I click on the OK button, it may 3-5 minutes, and it pops back up. If I close Outlook and reopen, it usually goes away. Again, no idea why this happens, so I've learned (as with many MS glitches) to live with it.

Gary
October 26, 2010 5:56 PM

I have Outlook 2002 still running and it WILL NOT save the password. Apparently Microsoft feels the program is too old and that feature will no longer work. I've tried a number of things suggested on the net to solve the program and none of them have worked for me.

Gerald
October 26, 2010 10:49 PM

I have exactly the same problem as Gary, Outlook refuses to save the password so each time I open Outlook I have to enter my password. When I Googled the problem it seems that Microsoft chose to trash the program I had paid for by not allowing it to save the pass word. Microsoft say it is for security reasons but actually it is for financial reasons, they want me to buy the latest edition.

Nick
October 27, 2010 2:55 AM

If you are comfortable with editing your Windows registry, try searching for "Password Is Not Saved in Outlook or Outlook Express" on a website www.theeldergeek.com
The full link is http://www.theeldergeek.com/save_passwords_in_outlook.htm

Brian
October 27, 2010 3:35 AM

I agree with Bruce. I have 3 e-mail accounts which Outlook 2010 handles and if it starts asking for the password (infrequent) for any of them the only sure way is to close and re-open Outlook. I just live with it.

Maro
October 28, 2010 4:22 AM

Actually, I find it very helpful, not frustrating, to do that. I got my hotmail hacked and it took time to recover it although the hacker(s) deleted ALL my contact list entries before sending a fraudulent message to all of them. Now, after I changed my hotmail to another hotmail account, I very often get not just the message asking for the passsword, but very often asking to copy the "characters" on a box, to make sure, it is not a spam or being hacked again. So, welcome this additional security, not condemn it.

Henk
October 29, 2010 9:33 AM

Using Hotmail in Firefox on a computer with XP I always have to put in my password by hand--it is never remembered, whatever I try. But I also can not sign out in the way microsoft wants me to do that. I suppose the reason for both is that I do not accept third party cookies. By the way, I am happy.

I'm not really surprised. Hotmail, because of it's long history and reliance on a number of other Microsoft related internet domains like passport.net, live.com, hotmail.com and who knows what else probably requires some number of 3rd party cookies for full functionality.
Leo
30-Oct-2010

vitocarleone
November 29, 2010 1:10 PM

For solve like issues exist only some tools. One of them liked me and probably it would aid in this problem as well as me - password recovery outlook.

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