Adding an Exchange account to Mozilla Thunderbird

Thunderbird is a good mail client. For the price, it’s fantastic. It’s very easy to configure for most email accounts like Gmail, Hotmail, etc., but it’s not always so easy for Exchange accounts. (There are some addons that add some Exchange functionality to Thunderbird, but I’ll look at those in a future post.) Here’s a quick guide to setting up an Exchange account on Thunderbird:

  1. In Thunderbird, go to the Tools menu and select Account Settings.
  2. In the Account Settings window, click on the Account Actions button at the bottom left.
  3. Enter your name, email address, and password, then click Continue.
  4. Thunderbird will attempt to connect to your Exchange server, but will probably fail with the message “Thunderbird failed to find the settings for your email account.” Click on the Manual Config button.
  5. You will probably have to enter your server name, port number, and authentication settings. For most Exchange Servers you will use these settings:
    • Incoming: IMAP / Server hostname: / Port: 993 / SSL: SSL/TLS / Authentication: Autodetect
    • Outgoing: SMTP / Server hostname: / Port: 465 / SSL: SSL/TLS / Authentication: Autodetect
      If it doesn’t connect at first, try playing with the Port, SSL, and Authentication settings, clicking the Re-test button to try each new configuration.
  6. Once you have a successful test of your server settings, click on the Advanced Settings button.
  7. Configure your signature on the main tab for your account in the Account Settings window.
  8. Click on Composition & Addressing to change some of the archaic and impractical default settings:
    • Change “start my reply below the quote” to “start my reply above the quote“. If you leave the default, nobody will ever see your reply if the original email is more than a single, short paragraph. More importantly, every other email client in the world will be putting replies at the top of the email instead of the bottom. After a couple of back-and-forths, the conversation thread will be hopelessly confused unless you change this setting.
    • Change “place my signature below the quote (recommended)” to “place my signature below my reply (above the quote)”. See above. Why anyone at Mozilla thought this was a good idea is beyond me.

Without installing an addon, you won’t be able to get your Exchange calendar or contacts in Thunderbird. In future posts, I’ll go over how to add both of those, and even how to connect to your organization’s Global Address List.

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