Outbox vs Sent: Difference and Comparison

The “outbox” folder and “sent” folder are used synonymously, but they have very different features and functions under which they perform.

Key Takeaways

  1. The Outbox is a temporary folder in email clients where messages are stored before being sent to recipients.
  2. The Sent folder contains copies of messages successfully delivered to their recipients.
  3. Messages may remain in the Outbox due to connectivity issues or delays, whereas the Sent folder records previously sent emails.

Outbox vs Sent

Outbox refers to a folder in an email client where messages are stored before they are sent and acts as a temporary storage space for emails. Sent is a folder in an email client where copies of sent messages are stored. After an email is successfully sent, a copy of the message is stored in the Sent folder.

Outbox vs Sent

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The outbox folder is a space where all the outgoing messages are temporarily stored while composing a message the data automatically gets saved as a draft in your outbox.

On the other hand, the sent folder is the space where all your messages move once they have been sent to the recipient.


Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonOutboxSent
PurposeThe outbox is a holding cell for your messages until they are sent to the recipient successfully by the server.The sent folder collects all the messages successfully delivered to the recipient by the mail server.
Delivery StatusAll the messages that are in the outbox are in the process of being sentAll the messages that have been successfully sent to the desired recipient are stored in the sent folder.
AccessibilityThe messages in the outbox folder can still be reviewed, and changes can be made per your will. The messages can also be deleted if no longer required.The messages in the sent folder cannot be edited further as they have already been sent to the desired recipient.
StatusIt is denoted as the temporary holding cell.It permanently stores all the messages that have been sent.
OutlookThe file stores only the unsent messages.All the messages sent can be kept track of for future reference.


What is Outbox?

The outbox folder is the first step in sending a message. The outbox folder temporarily holds all the messages that you have formed.

It is a safe place for your messages as they remain there until a secure connection has been established between the mail server and the receiver. After composing a message, when it is sent, it directly moves to the outbox folder, where it stands on hold until a secure connection is available with the SMPT (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) server leading to the connection being established.

The other messages which are also commonly stored in the outbox are the messages that have failed to successfully deliver to the recipient due to any internet connectivity issue. While the messages are stored in this folder, you can also further re-edit your messages if required, as the messages have still not been sent.

Once the mail server reconnects with the recipient and the message is successfully sent to the receiver, the message will no longer remain in the outbox folder and will transfer automatically to the sent folder.


What is Sent?

The sent folder is the final stage of sending a message. The sent folder commonly stores all the messages the sender has successfully sent to the recipient.

All the messages sent through the mail server are stored here. Unlike the outbox folder, the messages in this folder cannot be edited or deleted as they have already been delivered and received by the recipient. 

Various email clients have their tags to label the sent messages. For Gmail, it is commonly “sent mail”, whereas, for Microsoft Outlook, the chosen tag is “sent item”.

Most email servers choose “sent” folder as their default.


Main Differences Between Outbox and Sent

  1. The main difference between outbox and sent is that the outbox folder temporarily stores all the messages. They store it for a certain period, where the sent folder permanently stores all the messages the sender has successfully delivered.
  2. The messages stored in the outbox folder can be further edited or deleted as they have not been sent to the recipient yet.  Unlike the outbox folder in the sent folder, no further changes can be made to the messages as the recipient has successfully received the messages.
  3. Certain times due to connectivity issues between the email client and the mail service, the message gets stored in the outbox and is unable to be delivered; however, after the connectivity issue is fixed and the message is delivered, the message shifts to the sent folder.
  4. The messages in the outbox folder are waiting for a secure server connection to be established. In contrast, the messages in the sent folder have already secured an established connection and have been delivered to the recipient.
  5. The messages in the outbox folder are yet to be delivered, whereas the messages stored in the sent folder have already been delivered to the recipient.
Difference Between Outbox and Sent

Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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