Mac Outlook 2011 is "Updating Local..." constantly

Friends, Mac Outlook 2011 strikes again. I don't have a true solution for this, but can help alleviate it a bit. In this case, Outlook will 'Update Local' every time a new email is received, and it would update the same amount of messages, every time. This is not always a problem, but it can be if Outlook is updating a lot of messages (100+). The reason it's a problem is because it will slow down Outlook usage while it synchronizes with the server. This can slow down typing, or just clicking things in Outlook.

In this particular case, the user had 40,000+ emails in their inbox alone. According to, the inbox was not designed to hold large amounts of emails. It states:
The Inbox syncs more frequently than any other and should be kept as clean as possible. (note PCs seem to handle large Inboxes where Mac does not.)

Any folder with more than a few thousand messages is going to take some time to fully come down when you first sync your account. Due to the design of Outlook's sync engine (and how exchange works), you will see the 512 newest messages in a folder at the initial start of sync then the rest of the folder's contents will be backfilled before you see any mail that arrives after this point. This is why it will look like you are not getting new mail when a folder is still going through initial sync. This is also further exacerbated by an Exchange issue where it gets unnecessary change events before the newer mail arrives. If you carefully watch the progress during the sync of a folder with greater than a couple thousand messages, you will see "Updating local..." a lot before the newer mail starts arriving (newer than the initial 512 that come down).

Outlook checks the server for updates every minute, any folder that has updates will subsequently be synced. Since Outlook has a limit on how many folders can be synced at a time, there can be a queue of folders waiting. The Inbox does get high priority so it will generally sync before other folders that also need to sync.
 I bolded the first section of the excerpt because it seems to be the most relevant to the problem. So, to workaround this problem, I created a rule to copy all email more then a year old to another folder outside of the Inbox. This brought the total inbox messages down to around 10,000 and when it did it's 'Updating Local' it only updated around 30 messages instead of 300. This brought down the time for updating drastically, minimizing slow downs in Outlook.

I still do not know what the underlying issue is. I currently have 16,000+ emails in my inbox and have never seen 'updating local' once. I have a feeling that the messages that are updated are probably corrupt; Otherwise, why would it update the same amount of messages every time? Other methods I've used to troubleshoot this problem were: creating a new identity, rebuilding the database, downloading headers only, removing and re-adding the account. I'm going to dig deeper and see if I can find a true solution.


  1. I started experiencing this problem after I switched to a new MacBook Pro with OS X 10.7.4, from a previous MacBook Pro with 10.6.8. Outlook became nearly unusable with very frequent "Updating Local..." activity. I used the database utility to rebuild my identity. No difference. I then deleted my identity and set up Outlook again from scratch. The "Updating Local..." got worse: it went from 174 items to 552.

    Finally, I decided to copy the identity that was on my old MacBook Pro over to my new one and that fixed the problem for me. No more constant "Local Updating..." on my new Mac. (Outlook was at the same version on both computers. The identity may not be transferable otherwise.)

    My solution isn't applicable to anyone who doesn't have access to their old identity, but it does strongly suggest that all these excessive "Updating Local..." issues are due to identity database corruption.

  2. Hi,
    I'm experiencing the exact same problem (well, only I have 1393 updating local out of 22k emails)
    did you find any other sort of fix to this?

  3. Something else to try:

    Exit all Office apps including Outlook and Reminder
    Start up a terminal shell
    Cd to ~/Documents/Microsoft User Data/Office 2011 Identities
    Then run: chmod -R +w "Main Identity"

    This resets the write permissions for all files in your MS Office identity and seems to fix my latest instance of the "Updating Local..." issue without requiring me to restore an old, good identity. It took a few syncs to get the local database consistent with the server again, but eventually the "Updating Local..." stopped. If your main identity is named something other than "Main Identity", use its correct name instead.

    Hope that helps.

  4. Having this issue with 81,000 emails in my inbox. I can receive emails on my iPhone and iPad, but the outlook application just says "updating local". How did you guys fix this?

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Moving a bunch of older emails out of my inbox worked for me

  7. Quit all Microsoft apps > Under my computer Go to Users > Your account name > Documents > Microsoft User Data > Office 2011 Identities from there delete all files titled Main Identity (Any backup files with same name) & Mecontact.plist. Then restart outlook > provide account & login information and you will be back on...


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Cisco ISR 4331 slow upload speed on Verizon FiOS circuit

Troubleshooting Active Directory Account Lockouts

ESXi 5.5: Host gets 503 Service Unavailable error, hostd service will not start