Like many others, my employer makes heavy use of Microsoft’s Exchange system to run its corporate e-mail infrastructure. And for the most part I think highly of that collection of software and services: Microsoft Outlook and the Exchange system that runs behind it are full-featured and generally terrific. Unfortunately, its Web-based offering is pretty lame in comparison, and is generally set up on hardware that strains to keep up with the amount of use that it faces.
I’ve always liked Mozilla’s free Thunderbird e-mail client, and have tried in various ways to get it to pull down e-mail from Outlook Web Access (OWA) without success. Having finally sat down and considered the problem carefully, I’ve hit on success. The key is an amazing little piece of free software called DavMail Gateway, which installs on your local system and acts as a translator between your e-mail client and the remote OWA server. For posterity, I thought I’d capture how my setup works.
- Download and install DavMail Gateway to your system. On my Linux (Ubuntu 13) system, I followed the Debian package instructions, and actually did not apply any extra patches to get it running successfully.
- Next, I booted up DavMail Gateway from my Applications menu, which presented me with a setup screen. Here, I copied the settings I found in another post on the web and visible in the image shown above, but I’ll break them down again in specifics…
- Change the OWA URL value to http://webmail.rci.rogers.com/exchange/ .
- Leave all other port settings as-is (specifically IMAP as 1143 and SMTP as 1025) and press the Save button.
- Start up Mozilla Thunderbird and create a new account.
- Enter your Full Name, E-mail Address and the Password that you would use to access your e-mail regularly via OWA. Click the Test button; when it fails, you’ll be presented with a new set of fields.
- Your Incoming settings should be as follows: A server type of IMAP; a Server Hostname of “localhost” (no quotes), a Port of 1143, a SSL setting of “None”, and Authentication set to “Normal Password”.
- Your Outgoing settings should be as follows: A server type of SMTP; a Server Hostname of “localhost” (no quotes), a Port of 1025, a SSL setting of “None”, and Authentication set to “Normal Password”.
- Just one last field to set; have your Username value be your username without any domain: In my case, that would simply be “sully.syed” (no quotes).
- Click the Re-test button; this time, Thunderbird should let you proceed, and will begin the process of synchronizing your e-mail client with your mail. Welcome to webmail via Thunderbird!