Note : This post is primarily for students of UTA (University of Texas At Arlington) – Even though most of the steps here should work if you have a Microsoft Exchange labs email id and want to connect using Thunderbird.
Thunderbird is an excellent Mail client for both Linux and Windows. If you are still using browser to check email (either MavMail or even GMail) then its time to try a mail client. A Mail client provides much more functionality than a browser based access can provide you. If you are in either Windows or in Linux and want to try a free mail client , I recommend Thunderbird. Linux users can also try Evolution , but with Thunderbird version 3, I have to say Thunderbird wins the competition.
The latest version of Thunderbird is version 3 and it has lot cool features like Tabbed emails, conversations , activity manager and more ! You can check Thunderbird’s site for more details and downloading.
Connecting to MavMail using Thunderbird
UTA’s OIT has a FAQ page that has instructions for connecting but they have pointed it to a wrong url. It gives the instructions for an Apple iPhone. The correct url is Access Your Account Using IMAP or POP E-Mail Programs .
If this is the first time , you are using Thunderbird then it will open a Mail Account Setup wizard. Otherwise, you can get the functionality using the menus. If you are in Linux, Edit -> Account Settings and if you are in windows , it is Tools -> Account Settings.
This will open a dialog box asking three information . Your name , email id (with @mavs.uta.edu) and password. Enter them and press Continue. Most likely , they will find the wrong settings (If server comes out as mavs.uta.edu then it is wrong). Then you need to setup the account manually. Just make sure that “Incoming” option has IMAP as the preferred protocol. By default Thunderbird selects POP, if so select IMAP. Click on “Manual Setup”. You will get a Account settings dialog box. There are two ways to setup stuff. Both of them work fine – In the first method, you have to figure out the exact IMAP/SMTP server and in second you can enter a default one. I recommend the first method.
1. Login to your Exchange mail using a browser (either outlook.com or in exchangelabs.com/owa) . Notice the url of the page after your logged in. It will look like somehost.outlook.com. For me it was bl2prd0102.outlook.com . This will be your IMAP/SMTP server. An alternate way to get this information is to login to the site using IE and then click on the downward arrow near “About” to get the server name. I was not able to see the arrow in other browsers in Linux.
2. In the Server settings option , enter the IMAP server name. (Eg bl2prd0102.outlook.com) . User Name is your full email id. (including @mavs.uta.edu) . Enter port as 993.
3. Under Security settings, select SSL/TLS as Connection Security. Also uncheck the checkbox “Use secure Authentication”.
4. Under server settings, check both the two checkboxes – check messages at startup and check every 10 mins. Having it less that 10 minutes is a overkill in my opinion.
5. Click on Outgoing Server (SMTP) option. Enter some valid description. (Mine is GoMavs 🙂 ). Enter the server name as the SMTP server you found in step 1. (Eg bl2prd0102.outlook.com) . Enter port as 587. Note that this is not the default SMTP port 25.
6. Enter username as your full email id (including mavs.uta.edu) . Uncheck “Use secure authentication”. Select STARTLS as Connection Security.
7. Once you added the SMTP details, Click on your mail account (ie the root note) and select the smtp account you created as the “Outgoing Server”. You can also change the Account Name if you wish (I have as UTA Mail) . If you are one who uses Signature, here is the place to modify it.
8. Once all the setup is done, click on “Get Mail” to get your email. The first time , it will be slow as it is downloading all your emails. After some time, it will be real snappy.
If for some reason, you were not able to get the server name or it did not work then you can use the generic server details. Enter the IMAP server name as imap.exchangelabs.com and port as 993. For outgoing mail, the SMTP server is smtp.exchangelabs.com and port is 25. All other details are the same as detailed in Method 1.
Connecting To MavMail using Thunderbird 2
Most of the steps, I said are the same for Thunderbird 2 too. The difference is that you don’t get a setup dialog with just Name/Email/Password appear. You are dropped straight to “Account Settings” box.
The above steps are just for the basic setup. You need to tweak some other settings for best experience. One of the main issues is that Thunderbird and Exchange use different folder names and mixing them causes some duplicate folders. To avoid this issue , follow these steps :
1. Open the Account Settings again (Edit -> Account Settings or Tools -> Account Settings) .
2. In Server settings , “When I delete a message” , select “Move it to this folder” and select “Deleted Items”
3. In Copies and Folders, “When sending messages – Place a copy in ” and select “Other” and select the folder “Sent Items.
4. Similarly for Drafts select “Other” option and select “Drafts” folder.
5. In “Junk Settings” – For “Move junk to” , select “Other” option and select then “Junk Email ” folder.
Using GMail in Thunderbird
Setting up GMail in Thunderbird 3 is trivial. Open Account settings. Select “Account Actions ->Add mail account”. Enter your name, full Gmail id and the password and click on “Continue”. Thunderbird will fetch all the correct details automagically. Verify the details and click ok. You are now all set !
In the account settings, if you type wrong password then all buttons will be grayed out. Click on “Start over” and type details again.
Setting up MavMail in Thunderbird is very easy. Hopefully this post nudged you towards trying out Thunderbird !
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