Aug 21, 2008

How-To Get Thunderbird to Work with Exchange

I hate Microsoft, and prefer free software alternatives whenever possible. One of the best email clients out there that is a million times better than Outlook is Mozilla Thunderbird. One of the draw backs of Thunderbird though is getting it to work properly with Microsoft Exchange. This feat isn't impossible, and this post will hopefully help you get it accomplished with only a little finageling.

Lets start off with me saying this is not always as simple as it may seem. There are quite a few options to get this to work and in some cases you may need local administrator rights to your computer to get this to work. In this Tutorial I will assume that you know how to add an account and install plugins in Thunderbird. I will separate this into a few categories, Finding your Mail Server, Receiving mail and Sending mail.

Finding your Mail Server
To find your mail server in Outlook 2003 or 2007 go into your Control Panel and open the "Mail" settings and click on Email Accounts. Find yours and double click on it. the info after the label Microsoft Exchange Server: is what your mail server's name is. Or you can ask your IT guys, but do it nicely.

Receiving Mail
Option 1: The easiest way is to get this to work is to use IMAP. Simply just create an email account and for the incoming server make sure to use the IMAP option and type the name of your mail server.

Option 2: If that does not work you can try creating an account with POP3. After setting up a POP3 account you may want to take a look in the Account Settings area under the Server Settings to double check that you are leaving a copy on the server at least until you can verify that all aspects of Thunderbird are working fine.

If neither of those options work right away you may want to find out if the server is using Secure Authentication or a Secure Connection. If it is then make sure those options are selected in the Server Settings area. Also to help it not look so much like your using a different mail program than everyone else or if you're just used to it. You may want to change the Options under the Composition & Addressing to "Start my reply above the quote" and "place my signature below my reply"

Option 3: If you are still unable to receive mail the last option you have is to get mail from OWA (Outlook Web Access). That is if you have access to OWA. If you do then what you want to do is download a few plugins from the Thunderbird Webmail Extension site. Make sure to download the owa-0-7-0a28.zip and web-mail-1-3-3b3.zip files. Now this will only work if your OWA has Form authentication. This plugin does not support Popup Authentication at this time. I will follow the progress of this plugin and when they do get it to work with popup authentication then I'll post about it and update this article. Also make sure to read their forums to make sure you're setting up your accounts properly. Since I can not use this because we have Popup authentication I can not test this.

mozilla thunderbird working with microsoft exchangeSo in conclusion of the Receiving Mail section here. If IMAP and POP3 are disabled on your Exchange server and your OWA has Popup Authentication then this can not work then there's really no practical way of getting this to work. But if anyone else knows of another way let me know.

Sending Mail
Getting mail to send properly was actually harder than setting it up to receive mail. The first and easiest way is to simply setup an SMTP account that points to your server with the proper authentication if it's used. Depending on your Exchange setup this may not work. So see if there are any other mail servers on your network that will work. And always test sending an email to yourself. If you get that working make sure to also send a test email out to your home email address. Some times the Exchange server will be blocking relay to outbound email addresses. As it is in my case.

Option 2: Setup a local SMTP Server. To do this go into your "Control Panel" and open the "Add and Remove Programs" from there click on "Add/Remove Windows Components" Click on the "Internet Information Services (IIS)" and click Details. From there click on and check the "SMTP Service". Let that install and create an SMTP account in Thunderbird and use localhost as the server name. This should solve problems if you're not able to send to Outbound emails. Warning: This may show up as spam on some spam filters.

Option 3: Find a SMTP server and set it up on your computer. There are plenty of free ones out there. Some spam blockers may block your emails but you're usually ok if you're only email a few friends from work and you have them add you to their address book and/or mark all emails from you're email address as safe.

Option 4: You can always use Google's SMTP server. Just setup a gmail account and set the reply-to address to your work email and as long as you put your outbound name the same way it shows up as your Exchange email name then for the most part none should be the wiser. Especially if the person you're emailing is using Outlook. As outlook by default only shows the name and not full email address.

I'm still working on getting LDAP setup for a Global Address List but I know how it should work. But until I actually get it working myself I'm not going to post about it yet. If you know of a good way, help a brutha out in the comments!

By: Sundance of Free TV Shows Online



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