Managing .Mac and IMAP

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A friend of a friend got in touch this morning with a couple of .Mac conundrums. She’s attempting to operate her UK-based business while on the road in the US. Staying in a home with only dial-up Internet access she’s been frustrated by issues that weren’t a problem at home. Specifically:

She uses Microsoft Entourage and routinely creates messages, saves them as drafts, and sends them later. When doing so with her .Mac account she finds that her iBook wants to connect to the Internet whenever she saves one of these drafts. What’s up?

By default, Entourage IMAP accounts are configured to store not only Inbox messages on the IMAP server, but also sent messages, drafts, and junk mail. If you have an always-on broadband connection you hardly notice—Entourage saves this stuff to the server in the blink of an eye. But when you’re logged off of a dial-up account, who needs the computer taking a break to dial up for each of these draft-saving sessions?

The key to putting things right is opening the account (Tools > Accounts), clicking the Advanced tab, and unchecking the Store Drafts in this IMAP Folder option. (You’re welcome to uncheck the Sent Messages and Junk Messages special folder options as well.) When you do so, drafts will be stored in Entourage’s local Drafts folder.

You can do the same kind of thing in Apple’s Mail. In that program choose the Accounts preference, select the IMAP account, click the Mailbox Behaviors tab, and uncheck the Store Draft messages on the Server option.

Her other issue was with sending from her .Mac account. When she attempted to do so she was told her mail could not be sent.

We’ve been through this one before and the solution I offered worked.

What’s happening is that the ISP that’s hosting the dial-up account where she’s staying doesn’t allow sending messages from SMTP servers other than its own. It does this by blocking port 25. The solution is to override this port with an alternative.

In this case I suggested that she return to Entourage’s Edit Account window, click Account Settings, click the Click Here for Advanced Sending Options button, and in the resulting window enable the Override Default SMTP Port and enter 587 (a port I’ve had success with for configuring AOL’s SMTP server to work with my connection at home).

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