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Email and Mailing Lists

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CSAIL Email vs MIT Email (and email forwarding)

MIT students, faculty, and staff members receive an MIT email address and can read and send email via MIT's Athena mailhubs. The Athena mail system provides you with an address at mit.edu, which you may prefer to give out because it it short and prestigious. You will also receive a CSAIL account. You may like to read your mail at CSAIL because we provide slightly better spam control. Also, CSAIL serves fewer users than MIT, so your first choice for an account name is more likely to be available at CSAIL than at MIT. You can use the two accounts separately or forward one to the other for convenience.

  • You could keep your MIT and CSAIL mail accounts completely separate. If you don't change anything, you will need to log into each account separately to read all of your mail.
  • You could have your MIT email forwarded to your CSAIL account. Use Athena's chpobox command. See also IS&T's page on Email Forwarding Options at MIT.
  • You could have your CSAIL email forwarded to your MIT account, or to another destination entirely (Gmail, or your research group's mailhub). See Email Forwarding.

Account Creation and Management

You may have a CSAIL account and not a CSAIL IMAP account, for example, if you forward your @csail.mit.edu email to another address. If this is the case, you can Create your IMAP account (requires CSAIL certificate), which will overwrite any forwarding options.

CSAIL IMAP passwords are distinct from main CSAIL Kerberos passwords. If you expect to ever check email by remote, please use a separate password for your IMAP account. Change your IMAP password (requires CSAIL certificate)

Instant messaging and conferencing

There is also a Jabber instant-messaging server, which uses the same passwords as CSAIL IMAP. There is a one-hour propagation delay for password changes.

CSAIL Mailing Lists

Please see Mailing Lists for general information about our mailing-list infrastructure (including how to create new mailing lists, how to find lists you may be interested in, and links to end-user and list administrator documentation.

Popular CSAIL mailing lists (e.g., for announcements)

Please see Popular Lab Mailing Lists for information about some of the most important CSAIL mailing lists, including the ones CSAIL members are automatically signed up for when they get a CSAIL account. In particular, that page is good for answering "What list should I send this announcement to?" questions.

Mail Clients

You can read your CSAIL IMAP email at any time through the Horde webmail interface. This is not as comfortable a way to read your mail as a dedicated email client (see below), but it requires no more configuration and it's available wherever you have a web browser. It's also the way to set Vacation rules (see below) and other filters (following above steps 1-3) -- any filters you create on your local IMAP email client will only work when that computer and mail client is running, but filters you set up through webmail are applied as your mail is being delivered so they reliably filter all your mail.

The most popular IMAP client (desktop email program) at CSAIL is Mozilla Thunderbird. (Debian includes Icedove, which is identical in all ways to Thunderbird except the icons and the name have been changed to conform with Debian licensing policies. Ubuntu includes Thunderbird under its original name.)

How to Configure an IMAP Client

How to Configure an SMTP Client

Vacation Auto-responder Instructions

  1. Log into webmail.csail.mit.edu using your CSAIL username and IMAP (email) password
  2. Click the drop-down menu at top center labelled "Mail".
  3. Click "Filters".
  4. Click "Vacation" to edit the vacation rule.
    • "Subject of vacation message": If blank, your response will have Subject: Re: [sender's original subject]. If filled in, your response will have Subject: [exact text you fill in].
    • "Reason" will be the entire message body sent out (original sender's message will not be included at bottom)
    • Autoresponses will start and stop automatically according to "Start/End of vacation" only if the overall Vacation Rule is enabled.
  5. Click "Save and Enable"
  6. Click "Log out" in top right, if desired.

Hidden Folders

If you configure folders using the Horde webmail interface, you might not automatically see them in an IMAP client. Also, there are a few 'hidden' folders that are useful for spam filtering. Here's how to subscribe to a hidden folder.

Shared Folders

Sharing your IMAP folders with others

If you have a folder of messages you'd like to share with others:
  1. Log into CSAIL webmail
  2. In the left column, click Options -> Mail -> Share Folders
  3. In the top right, click "Inbox" and select the folder you want to share
    • Under "User", enter a CSAIL username.
    • Check YES to at least "List" (see the folder), and as many other permissions as desired. "Insert" means add messages to the folder; "Mark (Other)" includes adding the \Answered flag.
    • Click "Save"
  4. Repeat as desired for additional users and/or folders.

Viewing folders shared with you

If you have shared IMAP folders you would like to view, they are generally not available by default in most email clients. *For Thunderbird:*The instructions below are for Thunderbird (MacOS and Windows.) Other email client configurations are not dissimilar.

  1. Click File -> Subscribe
  2. In your folder list, expand the "shared" folder, select the appropriate folder, and click Subscribe.
  3. Repeat until all desired folders have check marks next to them, then click OK
  4. The shared folder(s) will now be available for viewing messages at the bottom of your folder list

For Apple Mail: See "shared folders" in AppleMail#Optional_steps

Spam Filtering

CSAIL provides spam filtering using SpamAssassin, a powerful free software solution. It works automatically on the mail server. You can change the settings so that it works better for you.

  • Change basic SpamAssassin configuration (CSAIL Certificate required).
  • Subscribe to the Spam folder if you want to see messages that the server has marked as spam and check for false positives.
  • To report missed spam to the server, subscribe to the folder MissedSpam. Then drag any spam from your inbox to the MissedSpam folder.
  • If you are getting "false positives," then subscribe to the NotSpam folder. Drag the message from Spam to NotSpam. The server will start 'learning' messages that you mark as NotSpam. After a few iterations, it should stop marking these messages as spam.
  • The server starts "learning" from messages saved to MissedSpam and NotSpam after enough messages are saved to both folders. The more messages you can categorize in both folders, the better.

See also: SpamAssassin Technical Details

Email Aliases

*New alias may take up to an hour to be accessible. Create an Email Alias

Virus filtering

The Clam anti-virus package checks all incoming email for viruses. Note that email virus scanning does not replace having up to date virus scanners on your own machine, but it should help cut down on the problems.

Tips and Troubleshooting

Topic revision: 31 Jan 2014, StephenJahl
 

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