Perhaps you’d like to learn a little more about setting up POP3/SMTP access from Outlook. Well, you’re in luck – keep reading!
POP3 - The Technical Stuff
POP3 stands for Post Office Protocol - Version 3. The “governing body” that specifies how POP3 works is the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). The IETF main web site is www.ietf.org. You can find detailed information about POP3 on the IETF RFC Editor web site – www.rfc-editor.org. Specifically, the POP3 specification document can be found at ftp://ftp.rfc-editor.org/in-notes/rfc1939.txt.
So What Is It?
As the name “Post Office Protocol” implies, POP3 is a protocol, meaning a standard method of communicating between computers, in this case, specifically for checking a mailbox for the existence of email, downloading the email, and deleting the email from the server. According to the RFC, “the POP3 protocol is used to allow a workstation to retrieve mail that the server is holding for it.” To make it simple, POP3 is what’s used to access your incoming email.
When Outlook is properly configured, it will check for email in your POP3 mailbox and bring any emails down into your Outlook Inbox. You can determine how frequently you would like it to check for your email.
SMTP - The Technical Stuff
SMTP stands for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. It is also specified by the IETF, and you may find detailed information about SMTP at ftp://ftp.rfc-editor.org/in-notes/rfc2821.txt.
So What Is It?
As the name “Simple Mail Transfer Protocol” implies, SMTP is a protocol, in this case specifically for sending email. According to the RFC, “the objective of the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) is to transfer mail reliably and efficiently.” Simply, SMTP is what’s used to send outgoing email.
You will usually configure Outlook to check for and Receive email from you POP3 server at the same time it Sends mail out through your SMTP server.
What You Need to Know to Configure POP3/SMTP Access in Outlook
At a minimum, in order to properly configure Outlook to send and receive mail using POP3/SMTP, you’ll need to know the following information:
- The name of your POP3 Server, e.g.,
- Your POP3 User Name on this Server, e.g.,
- Your POP3 Password for this User Name, e.g.,
- The name of your SMTP Server, e.g.,
Let’s take a look at these in more detail.
Your POP3 Server
You must be given the name of your POP3 Server by your mail hosting company or your corporate systems administrator. For home users, your mail hosting company will probably be your Internet Service Provider (ISP). For corporate users, your systems administrator can give you the correct information. And for small business users who have set up their own web connectivity, you’ll need to contact whoever is hosting your email, which may be a different company than the one that is providing you with Internet access.
Whatever the case may be, your POP3 Server name will probably start with “mail”, “pop” or “pop3”, like this:
You POP3 User Name and Password
You will need a User Name and Password for your account on this POP3 Server. This User Name and Password will identify the mailbox you wish to access for email. It can be some variation of your name or email address, or a seemingly random string of letters or number. Some examples are:
You will be given your User Name and Password when your mailbox is created. You may or may not have the ability to specify in advance what you wish your User Name and Password to be, otherwise whoever is setting up the mailbox may specify it for you based on a naming convention that is already being used within the organization.
As you can see, you need your User Name and Password to access your mailbox, which is of course how you keep prying eyes out of your mailbox!
Your SMTP Server
The name of your SMTP Server must also be obtained from your ISP, corporate systems administrator or your mail hosting company. It may or may not be the same as your POP3 Server name. It will usually start with “mail” or “smtp”, like this:
Here is a very important point. These days, with Internet security being such a huge issue for everyone, many mail server administrators are making it more difficult for unauthorized users to send mail through their mail server. This prevents an SMTP Server from being used to send out lots of spam or viruses. In the process however, it is sometimes difficult for even authorized users to send mail through their designated SMTP server. For this reason, many home users need to use their ISP’s SMTP server rather than their mail hosting company’s mail server. Neither the sender or the receiver of an email experiences any negative side effects of sending mail through your ISP’s SMTP Server, in fact, it is the preferred method these days, and no one generally knows which SMTP Server you sent through, nor would it make a difference if they did.
For example, let’s say the email hosting company I use for my consulting business is MyBogusMailHost.com and my consulting business is called MyBogusBusiness.com. My POP3 Server is called pop.MyBogusBusiness.com and my SMTP Server is called smtp.MyBogusBusiness.com. Well, I may find that I am unable to send mail using smtp.MyBogusBusiness.com, receiving “Relaying Prohibited” errors instead. In this case, it may be more effective to use my ISP’s SMTP Server for outgoing email, for example, mail.optonline.net.
At the heart of the issue is that you don’t typically use a User Name and Password to identify yourself to your SMTP Server, as you do to your POP3 Server. And we’ve already said that mail server administrators can’t let just anybody send mail out though their servers, so how do they know whether to allow your email to go through or not if you’re not using a User Name? They make this decision based on your IP Address. And your IP Address generally is assigned by your ISP. Therefore, if you try to send mail out through your ISP’s SMTP Server, the SMTP Server will see that your IP Address is within the range given by the ISP to its customers and allow the email to be sent out. Sounds complicated, but it’s really not!
OK, So How Do We Set Up Outlook?
In Outlook XP, select Tools / E-mail Accounts... Select Add a new e-mail account. Select POP3. Enter Your Name as you’d like it to appear to your email recipients, in my case “David Horowitz”. Enter your E-mail Address as you’d like it to appear to your recipients. Enter the names of your POP3 and SMTP Servers, and enter the User Name and Password for your POP3 mailbox.
It’s always a good idea to now click on Test Account Settings at this point, which will test five things:
- Your ability to connect to the Internet
- The accessibility of the POP3 Server you specified
- The accessibility of the SMTP Server you specified
- Your ability to log onto the POP3 Server using the User Name and Password you specified
- Your ability to send a test e-mail message to yourself through your SMTP Server
You really need to pass all five tests to have a working email system set up. If any one of the five fails, you should check the corresponding settings. For example, if you fail Step 2, you may have entered your POP3 Server name incorrectly. If you fail Step 3, you should check the SMTP Server name you specified. If you fail step 4, then you should check the User Name and Password you entered to make sure you didn’t make a typo, and if you didn’t, you may need to contact your mail hosting company for assistance in resolving the problem. If you fail Step 5, you may be unable to send mail through the SMTP Server you specified due to the reasons we mentioned earlier, that you are not permitted to relay mail through this SMTP Server. You may try your ISP’s SMTP Server instead in this case.
There’s a lot more to learn about using POP3 and SMTP email, but this should give you a start. The instructions given are for Outlook XP, but other email clients such as Outlook Express and Eudora work in a similar fashion. If you feel like experimenting, there are more advanced options available on the More Settings… button in the Tools / E-mail Accounts… option. Happy E-mailing!