Setting Up Mail for Mac

by Aaron Wright Feb 08, 2006


The latest release of Mail, available on Mac OS X ‘Tiger’, is one of the simplest yet effective e-mail clients.  E-Mail has become one of the most common forms of communication worldwide. Its popularity lies in its simplicity, the fact that it’s widely available, and even more so because it’s free to send and receive. 


Here are some of Mail for Mac OS X ‘Tiger’ newest features.


One of the most talked about features in Mac OS X 10.4 is Spotlight. As Apple states, Spotlight is “fast, simple, and easy to use.” It is OS X’s search engine that, whilst you type, scans the entire computer in a matter of seconds and picks out entries related to your search.  It’s also integrated into most of OS X’s applications, one of them being Mail.

Smart Mailboxes

Smart Mailboxes are mailboxes you create by defining which e-mails go in which mailbox. For example, you can set up a Mailbox that will catch all your e-mails sent from Smart Mailboxes work with Spotlight to scan your Inbox for certain e-mails. It’s a brilliant way to keep organized.  And the rest?  A few of the more noticeable features available in the latest version of Mail are:  Photo Slideshows that can be done with the click of a button when someone has sent you pictures.

Parental Controls that allow users to define which e-mail addresses go into your Inbox.  .Mac Synchronisation that has the ability to synchronize your accounts, Smart Mailboxes etc, with your .Mac membership.  Getting Started To open Mail click on the small ‘Stamp with an Eagle on it’ in the dock. You should see a “Welcome to Mail” screen.  Hit ‘Continue’ and you will be presented with a screen like this.


If you don’t see this and end up going straight to the main Mail window, simply navigate to:  ‘File’ > ‘Add Account’.  The first step is to select which Account Type you will be using. There are four available from the drop down menu; .Mac, POP, IMAP and Exchange. If you’re using an e-mail address supplied by your ISP (Internet Service Provider) or a web hosting company, you’ll more than likely be using POP, but if you’re unsure, you should ask. .Mac membership users should select .Mac.


After you’ve selected which account type you will be using, enter your details.  The account I’ll be demonstrating is my e-mail address which uses ‘POP’. The ‘Account Description’ field is basically the name of the e-mail account you will be using.  This can be anything you like, but it’s a good idea to keep it simple.  The other two fields are self-explanatory. Double check everything and hit ‘Continue’.  Incoming Mail Server The next step is to enter your ‘Incoming Mail Server (POP3)’ details. Your ISP or web hosting company should provide these for you by default practice. If they haven’t, get in touch with them now.


The ‘Incoming Mail Server’ field is where you tell Mail where to get your e-mail from. Your ISP may also label this field as ‘POP3’, so enter your POP3 details in here. The next two input fields are also straight forward.  Your username will usually be your full e-mail address.  Enter your password, check everything and then hit ‘Continue’.  Before proceeding, Mail will check the connection in order to erase any hiccups at a later date.  You should see something similar to this:  “Checking connection to POP server “” If you receive an error message that states this:  “The POP server “” is not responding.  Check your network connection, and that you entered the correct information in the “Incoming Mail Server” field. If it still doesn’t respond, the server might be temporarily unavailable.” Try not to panic and just double check your information. There’s a good chance you’ve entered your ‘Incoming Mail Server’ details incorrectly. Try not to panic and just double check your information. It will never be anything serious, and any issues are generally easy to resolve via a quick phone call.  If you receive a different error message that suggests your password and/or username is incorrect, double check your details, and if it still fails to work, contact your ISP.  Outgoing Mail Server After setting up your ‘Incoming Mail Server’, you now have to set up your ‘Outgoing Mail Server”.


The ‘Outgoing Mail Server’ field is where you tell Mail to send your e-mail, as opposed to receiving it. Your ISP or web hosting company should have informed you of these details by now. The server field can either start with ‘’ or ‘’. So for example, my ‘Outgoing Mail Server’ is set as  Next, either ‘tick’ or ‘untick’ the ‘Use Authentication’ box. Many mail servers these days require you to authenticate when sending e-mail. Your ISP should tell you whether or not to check this box. If they haven’t, it’s safe to assume it’s not required. Now provided you check the box, you need to enter your username and password again. Once you’ve double checked everything, hit ‘Continue’. You’ll once again see that Mail is checking your server details to ensure that everything is running correctly before you begin using e-mail.  A Re-Cap You’ve almost finished. Once you’ve entered everything correctly, you should see a screen similar to this.


You should notice that SSL is off at this stage. There isn’t actually an option during setup that asks you to turn this on, it’s just Mail’s way of informing you. If your ISP or web hosting company supports SSL, then they will inform you, and you’ll be asked to go to the advanced configuration options in Mail preferences (which I’ll go over quickly below).  Once you’ve made sure all your information is correct, hit ‘Continue’ where you’ll be asked whether or not you’d like to create another account. Assuming you don’t, hit ‘Done’ where your Inbox will appear with your newly created Mailbox setup.  Turning on SSL SSL is short for “Secure Sockets Layer”, which is a protocol designed to encrypt data when being transmitted over the Internet. It’s basically a privacy feature, so only you and the person you’re sending the e-mail to will be able to view the email.  Some ISP’s, as I’ve already stated, may ask you to turn SSL on. To do this, in Mail go to: ‘Mail’ (left hand corner next to the apple’ > ‘Preferences’. From here, click on the ‘Accounts’ tab at the top where you should see a window that lists all of your mail accounts.


Select the account you’re using (in my case it’s Jungalist) and at the bottom of the screen on the right hand side, you should see a button that says ‘Server Settings’. Click on it.


Your ISP should provide you with the details regarding ‘Server Port’, for me it’s port 25. ‘Tick’ the box that says “Use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)”. You now need to select which authentication type will be used from the drop down menu. It’s nearly always ‘Password’, but your ISP will, once again, inform you of this.  Now all you need to do is simply enter your username and password one last time followed by a swift click on ‘OK’.  That’s it!  You’ve successfully set up Mail


  • I find Mail to very lacking when it comes to editing characteristics.  I have tried several times in the past to use it.  Then I figured it was more like BETA software, now years later its still like Beta software so it must be as mature as it is going to get.

    The message filter idea has been in other editors for years.  Nothing new there.

    Try drag and drop, which Apple has been promoting for years.  Mail is crippled for that feature.  Try bullets… gone.  Try indented paragraphs…gone.

    I like to insert pictures with the text.  Try dragging and dropping a picture into Mail….. gone.  Attaching a picture gets confusing.  Attaching inserts a picture into the text sometimes, well most of the time.  But not always.  So how do you attach a file or picture you don’t want in the text?

    Obviously I use these features daily so I have stopped trying to use Mail again.

    My Claris Emailer had personal favorite user interface.  Eudora has email filter, OSX address book access (but not correction!!!) and does all the other things.  User interface can be lived with but its no Claris Emailer.

    Bottom line, Mail looks like a digital shop class project.


    JimOase had this to say on Feb 09, 2006 Posts: 1
  • If I’ve read you correctly, you can drag and drop pictures into Mail 2.0 available on OS X 10.4.  I’m not sure whether you’re talking about previous versions of Mail, but I do know 2.0 can do this.

    As regards to inserting pictures into text.  This feature (or lack of) has bugged me slightly, but I don’t mind too much.

    I think it’s good that Mail is simple.  Rather than aim the experience of using it at regular computer users, I think it’s aimed at new computer users as well.

    I have to use my friend (who has no experience with computers) as an example here, but he struggles to insert pictures into MS Outlook, but not with Mail.

    Thanks for your comment though.  Nice to know my article is being read.

    Aaron Wright had this to say on Feb 09, 2006 Posts: 104
  • #1, I think you’ve been trying to coerce Mail into being the email client you’re used to, rather than appreciating its alternative design.

    Case in point:  when I started using it back in the Jaguar days I hated it with a vengeance, because I was so used to the Outlook/Entourage way of doing things.  I gave it about a day, then reverted.

    Then in Panther I started exploring it again and learnt its hidden delights, one of which is the simplicity Aaron talks about. 

    Another was the instant search, which I think sold it to me:  I do a lot of customer support and being able to pull up similar responses in an instant with just a few keywords is an immense timesaver over Entourage’s ponderous text search.

    Yet another was the excellent rules/AppleScript integration, which is both extremely powerful and very easy to do.  I have rules doing things as simple as changing the color of incoming message headers, to launching sophisticated post-processing scripts to collect information from a couple of different apps and generate an auto-replied email.

    Of course Mail supports pictures, they’re even integrated from the other iApps such as iPhotos.  Standalone pictures have always been drag & drop for me.  Maybe yours didn’t have a “.jpg” extension?

    And so to today in Tiger, with the many improvements in Mail 2.0, whenever I have to load up Entourage I truly hate the latter with a vengeance…! 

    Give Mail a chance without the preconceptions of what an email client should be like, and you might be very surprised at how effective a different approach can be.

    mikataur had this to say on Feb 10, 2006 Posts: 19
  • I’ve been a Windows, therefor, Outlook, user for many many years, all before I had even used a Macintosh.  I’m good with technical things so it wasn’t too much of a problem to pick up Outlooks features and use them correctly. 

    The simplicity in Mail is the one thing that made me fall in love with it.  I don’t see why it should be so difficult and long drawn out to do simple tasks in an application, so I think that’s why I just enjoy using it.  Not to say Outlook is a bad e-mail client, but Mail certainly tops it in speed and simplicity.

    I also, as you’ve stated, Mikataur, love the Spotlight feature available in Mail 2.0.  Numerous times I’ve had to do a search for something I know exists in my inbox of 400+ messages, but couldn’t find by manual search.  It just speeds the whole process up.

    E-Mailing someone shouldn’t be a huge chore.  It should be simple, fast and effective.  I think Apple pulled that off with Mail.

    Aaron Wright had this to say on Feb 10, 2006 Posts: 104
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