Users seem to see setting up their accounts as one of the more intimidating tasks when setting up a mail program. You have to consider servers, what they do, usernames, mailbox names, passwords, domains, and so on you get the idea. It's somewhat complicated, to say the least.
To get started, let's figure out as much as we can. First, let's look at how email is done. You start with what is called a Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) server. This server is what moves the mail between users, computers, and domains. You send all mail using SMTP because every Internet email system is SMTP based.
When your home domain's mail system receives a message for someone in the domain (using SMTP), it puts that message in a special folder usually called the drop folder. Any mail your home domain's email server receives that is not for its domain is then forwarded (or relayed) to the correct domain. Years ago, before spam, an email message could be relayed through 5 10 SMTP servers before it reached your domain. Today, to limit spam, relaying is much more limited and is allowed only between domains that trust each other. This keeps you from sending spam through my SMTP server, for example.
Back at your domain, the next link in the chain is the Post Office Protocol (POP3). This server checks the drop folder to see which messages the SMTP server has left for the domain users. Each email is examined to determine who it is intended for. If the user exists, he has a folder (usually called a mailbox) and the POP3 server places the email for that user into his mailbox folder. If, on the other hand, the POP3 server cannot find the person who the message is for, it sends a nondelivery receipt (NDR) to the sender's mail system.
Now that POP3 has placed your mail into your mailbox folder, you can begin the process of getting your email. Your email program asks the POP3 server whether there is any email; if there is, it requests the mail. POP3 then transfers the mail to your email program.
This is perhaps an oversimplification of the process, but it covers the basic issues. Mail is transferred between domains with SMTP; POP3 collects email from the SMTP server; and users collect their email from POP3.
Security is the issue that sometimes makes setup difficult. You must protect your security, so POP3 wants you to use a user ID and password to ensure your email is delivered to you and not someone else. (SMTP wants you to use a password to ensure that you are allowed to send email, too.) Even this wouldn't be so hard were it not for the fact that with some systems, your username and mailbox names are not the same. Fortunately, many systems are identical, making the setup process simpler.
The Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) is another protocol used to interface with your mailbox. This protocol is similar to POP3, although it is more powerful. IMAP enables you to actually create folders on the mail server, perform searches, and other functionality.
This is possible because IMAP always stores messages and attachments on the server (local downloading is optional), whereas on POP3 it is usually the other way around.
To set up your mail accounts, first you must gather some information:
Your mail domain name For example, my mail domain is hipson.net.
Your mailbox name For example, my mailbox name is thunderbird_user.
Your logon ID For example, on my email system mine is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your logon password For example, mine is apple-pear-grease.
The incoming mail server For mine, the server is ishtar.hipson.net and the POP3 port is 110. Were this server to be IMAP, the port number would have been 143. A secure POP email account uses port 995. (Virtually all email systems that support IMAP also support POP3.)
The outgoing mail SMTP server Mine is ishtar.hipson.net, and the SMTP port is 25.
After you have collected this information, setting up an email account is relatively painless. Just do the following:
Click Account Settings under Tools in the Thunderbird menu. The Account Settings dialog box lists currently defined accounts and has buttons labeled Add Account, Set As Default, and Remove Account. Click Outgoing Server (SMTP) in the list on the left.
Thunderbird allows multiple outgoing SMTP servers, but you usually need only one. Fill in the server's name (for this example, it's ishtar; the hipson.net part is unnecessary because it is a local server). The port, 25, is the default SMTP port. If your SMTP server uses a different port, change this value. Virtually all SMTP servers require authentication before they will allow sending email to any other SMTP server. In this case, you use your POP3 name and password. You will be prompted for the password when the account is used the first time, and Thunderbird can be told to remember the password for later use. If the SMTP server uses secure connections, set them as well. You might have to ask your network administrator (or ISP help desk) if you do not know the correct setting. You can always try with the default of no secure connection.
Next, you must create a POP3 email account. This is the account where you receive your email. Click the Add Account button in the lower-right part of the Account Settings dialog box.
The Create Accounts Wizard asks for outgoing (SMTP) server information only if no outgoing server is defined.
Thunderbird uses a wizard to create accounts. The first wizard page lets you specify the type of account you are creating. In this example, you are creating an email account, which is the default for the wizard.
The second page of the Account Wizard lets you enter your name and email address. The email address is what someone will use when they reply to an email from you. The name is simply a people-friendly name.
On the third wizard page, choose which type of email protocol the incoming mail server will use. The two choices are IMAP and POP. My email server supports only POP3, and not IMAP, so I use the default: POP.
You can have an outgoing email server in a different organization from your incoming email server. Your outgoing email server (SMTP) need only be willing to accept your email; it does not have to concern itself with your incoming email at all.
The incoming account name is almost always the same as the mailbox name, and frequently the same name is used for both incoming (POP3) and outgoing (SMTP) servers. A few systems do use different names for the account and the mailbox.
Whenever a POP3 mail account is created, you have the option of using the global inbox (also called the Local Folders' inbox), using another account's folders, or creating a new set of folders for this account.
This enables you to keep email from different accounts separated, so you don't mix personal email with business email, for example.
Next, you give your account a friendly name. This name is just for your use and does nothing except make the account look pretty. Choose a name that makes sense (such as Work Emails), or just use the default associated with this account.
You are done. The Account Wizard displays the account information, which you should review to ensure that no mistakes have been made (see Figure 10.5).
Figure 10.5. You can change settings made when you created the account and a few other settings, as well.