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Solving Send and Receive Problems

written by John McGhie, Mac MVP

Mail is processed by a "server". In this context, a server is a program, and it is almost never on the same computer as Entourage.

Before you can begin, you need to know which type of mail server you are using. Your ISP or System Administrator must tell you this. Entourage currently supports POP and IMAP accounts. Some ISPs provide both kinds of accounts. If yours does, you can choose to connect to either.

Both kinds of accounts require Authentication to receive mail; IMAP also requires it to send mail.

Some POP accounts require authentication to send mail as well. The authentication to use a SMTP server isn't determined by what kind of account you are using to receive mail - it simply depends on whether the service is provided by your ISP or an external service; it just so happens that since IMAP is more often provided by separate organizations that they need it to send mail.

There are seven kinds of sending and receiving problems:

  1. Crashes and Hangs
  2. Unable to Connect
  3. Connects but doesn't do anything
  4. Receives messages but won't send
  5. Sends messages but won't receive
  6. Garbled or Blank Messages
  7. Sends Messages People Can't Read

Crashes and Hangs

Look here for a procedure to deal with crashes and hangs.

Unable to connect

Work carefully through the steps in Setting Up an Account to ensure that all of your account details are correct. Particularly: check for unwanted spaces at the beginning or end of user IDs, server names, and passwords.

If you are on the road, you can connect to your home mail server simply by leaving your Receiving Mail settings unchanged. However, you may need to make a change to the Sending Mail settings. See Mail On The Road.

Work through Testing Your Network to ensure that your network connection is OK.

If you need a Proxy Server, it must be configured exactly as your ISP or System Administrator advises. If your mail was working in the office, and now you are on the road using a dial-up, you will almost certainly need to alter your proxy settings. Look up "locations" in the Mac Help for an easy way to make these changes a one-click change. If you are on a laptop, you may need a location for "Office", one for "Home" and one for "Traveling".

Connects but doesn't do "anything"

Look on the Entourage menu to ensure that Work Offline is not checked.

Check to see that your mail accounts are included in the schedule you are using. Search the Entourage Help for "schedule" for extensive information on schedules. Particularly, look at "About schedules" and "My schedule doesn't run". All sending and receiving is done by schedules in Entourage: if your mail account is not in the schedules you are using, it will never send or receive. Particularly check your Send Receive All and Send Receive Mail schedules.

Work carefully through the steps in Setting Up an Account to ensure that all of your account details are correct. Particularly: check for unwanted spaces at the beginning or end of user IDs, server names, and passwords.

Work through Testing Your Network to ensure that your network connection is OK. Particularly, look for very long ping times to your mail server: anything over 600 milliseconds may cause Entourage to lose interest before the server responds.

Receives messages but won't send

Look here for a procedure to deal with sending problems.

Sends messages but won't receive

This is likely only if you are connected to a POP server. In the Post Office Protocol, the sending and receiving servers are different pieces of software, and often, on different computers.

Work carefully through the steps in Setting Up an Account to ensure that all of your account details are correct. Particularly: check for unwanted spaces at the beginning or end of user IDs, server names, and passwords.

In this case, look hard at the details for Sending Mail. Note: even though the sending and receiving servers are different, modern ISPs often use the same name for each: for example mail.optusnet.com.au is the name for Optus Australia's sending and receiving servers. Any traffic that arrives on Port 110 is handled by the POP server, traffic on Port 25 is handled by the SMTP server.

Check in the Advanced options to make sure the ports you specify are those you have been told to use by your ISP or System Administrator (and that they are the right way round: usually, the lower-numbered port is for sending). These ports may be different, particularly for a corporate server, a firewall, or a proxy server. If you have not been told differently, use ports 110 and 25.

Garbled or Blank Messages

Look here for a procedure to deal with garbled or blank messages.

Sends Messages People Can't Read

Assuming that you are not writing your messages in invisible ink (joke...) there are four likely causes:

  • Wrong character set
  • Wrong encoding
  • Stuffit compression
  • File name extensions

Look here for a procedure to deal with unreadable messages.