Thunderbird Setup for the MAG Email Service

There are literally dozens of different applications that you can use for reading and writing your email messages. Many people will use the application that comes free with their operating system, which in many cases will be "Outlook Express", or laterly "Windows Email". Others will use Outlook because they have a copy and it's what they use at work. While these are understandable reasons for using a particular email application, chosing one that is best suited to the job at hand is another reasonable one. Many people will remember the Netscape web browser and email client. Many more will know about, or even use Firefox, the open source cross platform web browser. Well, there is another application in this family, it is the Thunderbird email client. This section talks about the advantages of this tool and how to configure it for use with your MAG email service.

Why use Thunderbird

There is a trade-off between security and convenience and not just in the computer world. It would be much more convenient to you if when you got home, you didn't have to fumble around for a slip of brass and try and work it into the slot in the door while trying not to drop your bags in the wet. It would be easier if you could just push the door and walk straight in. However, if you did remove all the locks from your doors, you might well find that there's little left inside the house to go back to. Convenience vs Security. Authors of internet software like mail clients have the same trade-off. The authors of Outlook and Outlook Express tended towards convenience at the expense of security, hence the use of these packages is now banned in various organisations, including Cambridge University, in order that the network administrators can do something more useful than keep picking their kit up off the floor after yet another virus attack.

Getting hold of Thunderbird

Go to The Thunderbird Project Site, download thunderbird (and maybe firefox while you're there) and install.

Setting up your MAG Email Account

If this is the first time you have had Thunderbird on your computer, it will ask if you want to import anything from the existing mail client programs (Outlook, OE etc) you can import everything into Thunderbird if you want, or you can skip this section and just use Thunderbird for MAG email for now.

There was an earlier version of this page to handle setting up older versions of Thunderbird, but thankfully things are now a great deal easier. I would even go as far as to say that if you want to set up your Thunderbird client with the MAG email service it is now trivial!

You will be presented with a dialog box looking much like this:

You should fill in your full name, your account username and your account password, all of which you will find in the new account email that you will have been issued with. If you don't have one, you probably haven't been issued an account yet and can go no further until you are. Once you have filled in those 3 fields, hit Continue, and you should see this:

Click Done and you're there.

Sending email as being from an alias

Many MAG activists will have been issued with a "Role Based Alias" as well as an email address based on their names. For example the webmaster for wibbleville will have the alias "wibbleville-web@mag-uk.org" and rep, "wibbleville-rep@mag-uk.org". Many server users will be quite content to receive email via these aliases, but have no wish to send mail as being "From:" that address. However, there can be advantages to using the alias sometimes. If you want your recipient to contact you via the alias, rather than your named email address, you can set Thunderbird up to allow this to be done. This will mean that as and when you move on and pass this role to someone else, that person will automatically then contact the new incumbent, rather than you. Thunderbird allows this to be done as a kind of extension to your normal mail accounts. If you go to the "Account Settings" screen and select the MAG server account, you will see a button marked "Manage Identities". Clicking this will bring up the Identities dialogue.

You will see that your main account idenenty, probably your named email address, is already present. Clicking "New" will get you the "Identity Settings" dialogue.

As you can see it contains a lot of the same information as the main identity, but all you actually need to fill in is the Name and email address. You might want to have the role title alone in the "Name" field, or you name with the role after it eg "Fred Bloggs - Wibbleton MAG Webmaster", this is entirely your choice. In the "Email Address" field, you should enter the email alias eg "wibbleton-web@mag-uk.org".