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Thunderbird Configuration

Thunderbird Configuration

This article covers the basic setup of the Thunderbird mail client to connect to an IMAP server. Screen shots taken on a Mac OS X ``Tiger'' system. The procedures are pretty much the same on other versions of Thunderbird.

In these examples, the connection will be made to one of our mail servers, You will need to change these to the host name of your e-mail server system. They assume that you have Thunderbird running.

Create New Account

Select ``Account Settings...'' from the Tools menu at the top of your screen or the top of the Thunderbird window on systems other than OS X. This should bring up a dialog box similar to this:

Click on the Add Account'' button below the left section which lists the existing e-mail accounts. This will bring you to a screen similar to this:

Make sure the ``Email account'' button is selected, then click on the ``Continue'' button to bring up a screen similar to this:

Enter your full name in the box ``Your Name'', and your e-mail address on this server in the box ``Email Address'', then click on the ``Continue'' button which will bring up another dialog box:

Click on the ``IMAP'' button and enter the host name of the your e-mail server in the box, ``Incoming Server'' then click on the ``Continue'' button on the screen which shuold look like this:

The next dialog box allows you to change the login information on the server. Normally you won't have to change anything on this, just click on the ``Continue'' button.

The next dialog box allows you to set the account name. This is the heading of the account that will be shown in the left side of your Thunderbird mail program. The default value of this is your e-mail address, but you may change this to anything that is meaningful to you. Press the ``Continue'' button.

The final ``Congratulations!'' screen shows your selections, and you can press the ``Continue button to complete the first part of the setup. The IMAP connection as set here is NOT SECURE, and your username and password will be sent across the Internet in plain text. There is a bit more work to do after pressing the ``Done'' button on this screen.

Click on the name of the new account you just set up which will appear near the bottom of the left side of your account maintenance screen which should bring up something like this:

I normally enter the same e-mail address in the ``Reply-To Address'' field as in in the ``Email Address'' field to insure that intervening mail programs do not change my address.

You may enter your organization name as well.

You may click on the ``Attach this signature'' button, then enter the name of a file on your desktop system that will be appended to every outgoing message as a signature. This file should contain your contanct information in a PLAIN TEXT file. Net etiquette suggests that these signature files should be short, 6 lines or fewer.

Set IMAP Server Security

Click on ``Server Settings'' for this account on the left side of the main account settings screen. This will bring up a screen that looks like this. This is where one selects the security settings to encrypt all traffic between your desktop machine and the server. Click on ``TLS'' which should make a secure connection to the server. If the connection is not successful, you may have to come back to this screen and click on the ``SSL'' button instead.

The other server settings allow you to set various options. In particular, the settings for message deletion handling are important. I normally set them to automatically remove deleted messages from the server when I exit from Thunderbird. The screen should look something like this:

Set Outgoing Message Options

Click on ``Composition & Address...'' of this account in the left site of the account settings screen which should give you something like this:

I STRONGLY RECOMMEND that you clear the ``Compose messages in HTML format'' button at the top of the screen so that your messages are sent in plain-text, not in HTML. This goes a long way towards keeping your message from being classified as Spam (Unsolicited e-mail), and makes it easier to read on most e-mail clients. It doesn't allow you to get real fancy, but that's a Good Thing(tm) as e-mail should be simple and clear.

Leave the ``Automatically quote...'' and ``Start by Reply below the quote'' items selected. This allows you to insert your comments directly below each part of the message when replying.

The ``Outgoing Server (SMTP)'' should probably be set to ``Use Default Server'' although one may want to change this as necessary. I will cover setting the outgoing server next.

Click on ``Outgoing Server (SMTP)'' in the left side of your account maintenace screen. The image here shows that I have a default server configured already so I wll have to add a new server to point to this machine by clicking on the ``Add'' button on the right.

The settings as shown are for a normal, plain-text connection. We have our servers configured such that they allow mail relaying from IP addresses with an authenticated IMAP connection so no additional authorization is required.

After setting this, it may be necessary to go back to the top account settings for this account to set the outgoing server for this new account. This will only be necessary if you have multiple accounts, and cannot use the default.

Subscribe to Mailboxes

One of the advantages of Thunderbird is the ability to subscribe to a limited set of folders on the IMAP server. This is particularly useful if there are large numbers of folders on the server, some of which one may not want to see on a regular basis (e.g. I have archival subfolders going back years).

To see all available folders in an account, right-click on the top line of the account on the left side of the screen, and select the subscribe option. All folders will then be displayed in a screen where one can select folders to subscribe or unsubscribe determining what will be displayed for that account.

Select one or more folders by clicking on them. One can select contiguous accouts by holding the shift key down, while left clicking. One can select multiple non-contiguous accounts by holding the control-key on non-Mac systems or the CMD key on OS X systems while clicking individual folders. Press the ``Subscribe'' or ``Unsubscribe'' buttons then press the ``OK'' button to finish.

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