Before you start
Objectives: familiarize yourself with the Windows Mail application in Windows Vista.
Prerequisites: no prerequisites.
Key terms: mail, e-mail, windows, messages, junk, settings, server, account, options, application
Windows Mail Application
Windows Mail is actually an updated version of the Outlook Express. So, it is a simple e-mail and newsgroup client. When we download e-mail messages from the server, we can choose to delete the message from the server or to leave it once it is downloaded to the Windows Mail client. Windows mail provides new tools which will help us to manage junk mail more efficiently. Junk mail filtering now has four levels. The first level is “no filter”, second is “low”, third is “high” and the fourth is “safe list only”. In the last level, only messages from our contacts will get to our Inbox folder. All others will be sent to junk e-mail folder.
We also have an option to block HTML content in e-mails. Phishing filter which is integrated in Internet Explorer also protects our e-mails (Windows Mail uses the same engine filter). There are also rules that we can set up in Windows Mail. For example, we can route certain type of messages to certain folders. Also, we can use multiple profiles in Windows Mail. That means that if we have multiple users on our computer (different accounts), one user can’t see messages from another user. All messages are exportable, so if we need to move to another environment, that can be easily done.
There are some default settings in Windows Mail that we should be aware of. For example, it will block images and other file attachments with extensions like .exe, .pif and .scr files. We should always use caution when opening e-mail attachments. HTML format for e-mails is susceptible to malicious intent. Phishing links are often used in spam e-mails that we view in HTML format. We should always be careful when clicking on links in messages. Windows Contacts are integrated in Windows Mail.
To set up e-mail account we need to have a valid e-mail address. We have to know e-mail server names so that we can send and receive e-mail. We have to know which type of server will we use (POP3, SMTP, IMAP). We also have to know our credentials (user name and password) to sign in to our account.
To open Windows Mail we can go to Start Menu, and then select E-mail. When we first open it, it will prompt us to open e-mail account. For the purpose of this demo we will use a Utilize Windows e-mail account. The name will be “Marko Ivancic”.
Name (Marko Ivancic)
On the next screen we will enter our e-mail address, which is forum (at) utilizewindows.com.
On the next screen we have to enter information about incoming and outgoing mail servers. In our case we will select the POP3 protocol. In our case, the incoming and outgoing mail server is mail.utilizewindows.com, but this doesn’t have to be the case with your settings. Incoming and outgoing servers can be different and are often named something like ‘pop.domainname.com’ or ‘imap.domainname.com’ or ‘smtp.domainname.com’.
On the next screen we have to enter our username and password.
If everything went fine, the Windows Mail application will now open. On the left hand side we can see Local Folders which contains our Inbox, Outbox, etc. We can also see the Microsoft Communities which stands for newsgroups. On the right hand side we can see a list of e-mails. In our case, we have only one e-mail in our Inbox. If we select that mail, we will see its content in the preview pane which is located below the list of e-mails.
If we want to add additional e-mail accounts, we can go to Tools > Accounts. Here we will see existing accounts, which we can edit. We can also add new accounts by clicking the Add button.
List of Accounts
Some servers will require that we use some advanced settings for our account, like special port numbers, secure connection (SSL) settings, and other settings. For example, if you use a GMail account, you will have to check the ‘My server requires authentication’ option for the Outgoing mail server. This is enabled in the Servers tab. In our case we don’t have to use that option.
Also, sometimes servers will use different ports for their services. For example, GMail requires the use of SSL. The outgoing mail (SMTP) port is 465, while the incoming (POP3) port is 995. All that options can be configured in the Advanced tab. In our case our account can use the default settings, and we don’t have to change anything.
We can also configure options for Junk filter. To do that we can go to Tools > Junk E-mail Options. As we said, there are several levels of junk e-mail protection levels, and we can choose the right one for us here. We should be careful with those levels, because sometimes we will have legitimate mail sent to the junk folder: We should be careful when deleting e-mails from our junk folder and check for regular e-mails.
Junk Mail Options
On the Safe Senders tab we can add addresses or domain names to the safe senders list. That way their e-mail will never go to the junk folder. The same is with the Blocked Senders list (their mail will always go to the junk folder). We can also block Top-Level Domain names on the International tab. As we know, some countries are famous for sending a lot of spam. But we should also be careful with those options, because we will block all e-mails from some country, including legitimate ones. There is also a Phising tab where we can choose to enable protection from messages with potential phishing links. By default it is turned on.
For more Windows Mail options we can go to Tools > Options. Here we can choose what to do when we send or receive messages, how often to check for messages, etc. On other tabs we can choose how to format our messages and how to display the ones that we receive. We can also configure our signatures. We should be familiar with settings in the Security tab.
We can also set rules for our messages if we go to Tools > Message Rules > Mail.
If we can send e-mail but cannot receive it, we should check our e-mail account settings, especially the Incoming server part. We should also verify that firewall settings allow incoming e-mail. If we can receive e-mail but not send it, we should check our configuration with the outgoing mail server settings. If Windows Mail doesn’t open when we click on some e-mail link, Windows Mail is probably not set as the default e-mail application on our computer.