Saturday, September 5, 2009

OU email and Gmail

I work for the University of Oklahoma, which uses an Exchange-based email system. As a Mac user, this is very frustrating for me; the Microsoft email client is definitely not something I want to install on my computer. I've had very good luck with Gmail, though. I use Gmail to collect my OU email, leaving a copy on the server, and I can send my outgoing email through the OU email server, so that as far as anyone is concerned my email comes from OU - in fact, it DOES come from OU, via the OU email server. Gmail uses the account information I provide to access that server.

Why this is better than just having OU email forward my email to Gmail:

1) I have a back-up copy of my incoming email on the OU server, just in case.
2) I get the benefit of OU's spam email filters, PLUS the Gmail spam filters - a double spam filter whammy!
3) I can configure my outgoing email so that it comes from OU, and people reply to me at OU.

Here's how it works:

FIRST STEP: OU Inbox. Get your OU email inbox under control. If you are not in the habit of cleaning out your inbox, do so now. Everything that is in your OU email inbox will be pulled over into Gmail when you follow these steps - but not any of your other folders. So, move stuff out of your inbox if you do not want to pull it over, and if you have emails in folders that you want to bring over to Gmail, move those items to your inbox.

SECOND STEP: Cancel forwarding. If you are already forwarding your email to Gmail, you will want to cancel the forwarding, so that the email will stay in your OU inbox, and Gmail can collect it, while also leaving a copy on the server. So, if you have a forwarding order in place, go to and cancel your forward (you can also use this as an opportunity to check on your OU spam filters; I have mine set at "normal").

THIRD STEP: Configure Gmail to to SEND your outgoing email using the OU email server and to COLLECT mail from your OU inbox.

Click on Settings along the top of your Gmail page, then choose Accounts.

In the Send Mail As section, click the button that says "Send Mail From Another Address" and when prompted enter the email address. For example, I enter, since that is my OU email address.

Then, I select to have my outgoing email actually sent by the OU email server. To do that, I have to specify the name of the OU email server, which is I select the server port, which is 587 - and do NOT check the secure option below. You also need to enter your username (your OU 4x4) and password. (Note that the name of the server is not what Gmail expects: it is - with a letter "a" before "smtp" - so you need to make sure you enter the server name correctly.)

Then, after you have saved this outgoing email option, you can choose it as your DEFAULT option if you want your outgoing email from Gmail to always come from this address. (You can choose your Gmail outgoing address for any email you want to come from Gmail directly instead.) Just click the "make default" link to choose the default outgoing email address:

Then, when it is the default, it will appear like this:

To have Gmail also collect the email from your OU account, go to the Check Mail Using POP3 section and click on the button that says "Add POP3 Email Account" - you will then be prompted to enter the email address you want to collect, so again I enter, which is my OU email address.

Next, you will have to specify the server,, and the port is 995. You also need to enter your username (your OU 4x4) and password. This time you DO need to check the SSL security box. Optionally, you can leave a copy on the server, which is what I always do - that gives me a handy backup in case something goes wrong with Gmail. Admittedly, OU email is down more often than Gmail is - but this way you have your inbox in two places, just in case.

Gmail will check your other email accounts quite often, but if you ever want it to force it to go check your email right away, just click on Check Email Now next to the account you want to check.

HAVE FUN! This ability to use the smtp server of your business or school is something Google just released in August, and it has been working great for me - now there is no reason at all for me to log directly onto my school email account. Gmail is managing all of that for me - both incoming and outgoing email! Nice!