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Configuring E-mail Accounts

Setting up an e-mail account on your iPhone is one thing, but making that account do useful things - or sometimes, anything at all - is quite another. The next few sections take you through a few useful settings that help you get more out of e-mail and troubleshoot e-mail problems.

Managing multiple devices by leaving messages on the server

In today's increasingly mobile world, it's not unusual to find you need to check the same e-mail account from multiple devices. For example, you might want to check your business account not only using your work computer but also using your home computer, or using your iPhone while commuting or traveling.

If you need to check e-mail on multiple devices, you can take advantage of how POP e-mail messages are delivered over the Internet. When someone sends you a message, it doesn't come directly to your computer. Instead, it goes to the server that your Internet service provider (or your company) has set up to handle incoming messages. When you ask Apple Mail to check for new messages, it communicates with the POP server to see if any messages are waiting in your account. If so, Mail downloads those messages to your computer and then instructs the server to delete the copies of the messages that are stored on the server.

The trick, then, is to configure Mail so that it leaves a copy of the messages on the POP server after you download them. That way, the messages are still available when you check messages using another device. Fortunately, the intuitive folks who designed the version of Mail on your iPhone must have understood this, because the program automatically sets up POP accounts to do just that. Specifically, after you download any messages from the POP server to your iPhone, Mail leaves the messages on the server.

Here's a good overall strategy that ensures you can download messages on all your devices, but prevents messages from piling up on the server:

  • Let your main computer be the computer that controls deleting the messages from the server. In OS X, the default setting in Mail is to delete messages from the server after one week, and that's fine.
  • Set up all your other devices - particularly your iPhone - to not delete messages from the server.
To leave messages on the server in Outlook, choose Tools → Account Settings, click the account, click Change, and then click More Settings. Click the Advanced tab and select the Leave a copy of messages on the server check box. In Outlook Express or Windows Live Mail, choose Tools → Accounts, click your e-mail account, and click Properties. Click the Advanced tab and then select the Leave a copy of messages on server check box.

It's a good idea to check your iPhone POP accounts to ensure they're not deleting messages from the server. To do that, or to use a different setting - such as deleting messages after a week or when you delete them from your Inbox - follow these steps:

  1. On the Home screen, tap Settings. The Settings app appears.
  2. Tap Mail, Contacts, Calendars. Your iPhone opens the Mail, Contacts, Calendars settings screen.
  3. Tap the POP account you want to configure. The account's settings screen appears.
  4. Near the bottom of the screen, tap Advanced. Your iPhone displays the Advanced screen.
  5. Tap Remove. The Remove screen appears.
  6. Tap Never. If you prefer that your iPhone delete messages from the server automatically, tap After one day, After one week, or After one month.

Fixing outgoing e-mail problems by using a different server port

For security reasons, some Internet service providers (ISPs) insist that all their customers' outgoing mail must be routed through the ISP's Simple Mail Transport Protocol (SMTP) server. This usually isn't a big deal if you're using an e-mail account maintained by the ISP, but it can lead to the following problems if you are using an account provided by a third party (such as your website host):

  • Your ISP might block messages sent using the third-party account because it thinks you're trying to relay the message through the ISP's server (a technique often used by spammers).
  • You might incur extra charges if your ISP allows only a certain amount of SMTP bandwidth per month or a certain number of sent messages, whereas the third-party account offers higher limits or no restrictions at all.
  • You might have performance problems, with the ISP taking much longer to route messages than the third-party host.
  • You might think you can solve the problem by specifying that the third-party host's outgoing mail is sent by default through port 25. When you use this port, the outgoing mail goes through the ISP's SMTP server.

To work around the problem, many third-party hosts offer access to their SMTP server via a port other than the standard port 25. For example, the iCloud SMTP server (smtp.icloud.com) also accepts connections on ports 465 and 587. Here's how to configure an e-mail account to use a nonstandard SMTP port.

  1. On the Home screen, tap Settings. You see the Settings app.
  2. Tap Mail, Contacts, Calendars. The Mail, Contacts, Calendars settings screen appears.
  3. Tap the POP account you want to configure. The account's settings screen appears.
  4. Near the bottom of the screen, tap SMTP. Your iPhone displays the SMTP screen.
  5. In the Primary Server section, tap the server. Your iPhone displays the server settings.
  6. In the Outgoing Mail Server section, tap Server Port. Your iPhone displays a keypad so you can type the port number, as shown in Figure below.
Outgoing Mail Server Area

Configuring authentication for outgoing mail

Because spam is such a big problem these days, many ISPs now require SMTP authentication for outgoing mail, which means that you must log on to the SMTP server to confirm that you're the person sending the mail (as opposed to some spammer spoofing your address). If your ISP requires authentication on outgoing messages, you need to configure your e-mail account to provide the proper credentials.

If you're not too sure about any of this, check with your ISP. If that doesn't work out, by far the most common type of authentication is to specify a username and password (this happens behind the scenes when you send messages). Follow these steps to configure your iPhone e-mail account with this kind of authentication:

  1. On the Home screen, tap Settings. Your iPhone displays the Settings app.
  2. Tap Mail, Contacts, Calendars. The Mail settings screen appears.
  3. Tap the POP account you want to configure. The account's settings screen appears.
  4. Near the bottom of the screen, tap SMTP, and then tap Primary Server. Your iPhone displays the server's settings screen.
  5. In the Outgoing Mail Server section, tap Authentication. Your iPhone displays the Authentication screen.
  6. Tap Password.
  7. Tap the server address to return to the server settings screen.
  8. In the Outgoing Mail Server section, enter your account username in the User Name box and the account password in the Password box.
  9. Tap Done.