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Using webmail with your email client

From MozillaZine Knowledge Base

This article was written for Thunderbird but also applies to Mozilla Suite / SeaMonkey (though some menu sequences may differ).

Thunderbird supports using POP and IMAP mail servers for fetching/reading new messages. It does not support webmail. If you want to use webmail (or WebDAV or HTTPMail) with Thunderbird you normally need to use an add-on that emulates a POP server. It has to do some type of web scraping (an automated way to read the contents of the screen) to do that, which means it may break if the layout of the web page changes. If that happens you can't use it until an updated version is available.

The best solution is to use a real mail server.

  • Gmail provides a free POP, IMAP and SMTP server with all webmail accounts.
  • Yahoo! provides a free POP and SMTP server if you have a webmail account in a non-USA yahoo domain (for example de.yahoo.com). Otherwise if you want to use a POP account you have to pay for an upgrade to Yahoo! Mail Plus if your ISP doesn't provide you a Yahoo account. They have a free IMAP and SMTP server that officially only supports smartphones and Zimbra email clients. However, Thunderbird supports creating a Yahoo IMAP account.
  • MSN/Hotmail provides a free POP and SMTP server with all webmail accounts.
  • AIM provides a free IMAP and SMTP server with all webmail accounts. If you have trouble signing up, try [1].
  • GMX provides a free POP, IMAP and SMTP server with all webmail accounts.
  • Lavabit provides a free POP, IMAP and SMTP server with all webmail accounts.
  • My Opera provides a free IMAP and SMTP server with all webmail accounts.
  • Inbox provides a free POP and SMTP server with all webmail accounts. They are beta testing also providing a IMAP server to all users.

If you check "Tools -> Account Settings -> Server Settings -> Leave messages on server" you can access your mail both from Thunderbird and from a browser. You may want to set the number of days it keeps a copy to avoid filling up your webmail mailbox.

Contents

Webmail Extension

The WebMail extension for Thunderbird enables access to Yahoo, Hotmail, MailDotCom, Gmail, AOL and Libero webmail using Thunderbird. It has a dedicated thread in the extension/theme releases forums and a Thunderbird Webmail Extension Google Group.

It is useful when a firewall blocks access to a POP or SMTP server. For example, if your firewall only allows connection to port 110 for POP and port 25 for SMTP you can't connect to Gmail's mail servers. But you can still use Gmail using the WebMail extension since it uses port 80 with http to send and receive messages. The FreePOPs add-on could also be used to workaround the firewall but it doesn't support sending messages.

Instructions:

Sometimes the webmail extension breaks when the format of the webmail pages change. If you don't want to wait for a new version to be released, you can usually get beta versions from the Google Group. While it's rare for a beta to do any harm, it's a good idea to back up your profile before trying one.

All of the released versions are available at http://downloads.mozdev.org/webmail/ . That is useful if you are using Thunderbird 3.1.12 because while the email provider specific add-ons seem to support Thunderbird 3.1 and later, the latest version of the webmail add-on usually requires recent versions of Thunderbird.

Other solutions

  • FreePOPs: Open source extensible proxy with Lua scripting. It supports hundreds of domains.
  • WebMail Notifier: An add-on that checks the number of new messages in various webmail accounts. You can't use it to read mail but it is a useful way to monitor webmail accounts that you might not use much. There are instructions on how to write a script to support other email providers, and a collection of user written scripts.

Not popular:

  • YPOPs!: Open source Yahoo! Mail proxy program for Windows, Mac, and Linux. See these setup instructions for Thunderbird (with screenshots) or the official instructions. YPOPs! used to be very popular but it doesn't seem as reliable as it used to be. Many users seem to have switched to the webmail add-on. Some users (who used to use it before) can't get it to work, or can't send using it.
  • FetchYahoo downloads Yahoo webmail to a mail spool. Thunderbird can read a mail spool if you create a MoveMail account. If you're using Linux using fetchmail and procmail would probably be a better way to use a mail spool.
  • Poppeeper: A freeware solution that supports GMail, Hotmail\MSN\LiveMail, Yahoo, MyWay, Excite, iWon, Lycos.com, RediffMail, Juno, and NetZero.
  • Web2pop: (shareware $29 USD) supports Gmail, Yahoo, AOL and others.
  • Pop2OWA: Open source mail proxy program for Outlook Web Access written in Visual basic.
  • (not needed if you have Thunderbird 3.1.19 or later) Yahoo IMAP Connector is a shareware product that lets you use Yahoo's IMAP server with Thunderbird. Yahoo only supports Zimbra Desktop and smart phones doing that, so it provides a proxy that sends the necessary commands to emulate what they do. There are also a couple of open source projects such as Yahoo! Mail IMAP Proxy and IMAP ID Proxy that have similar solutions. IMAP ID Proxy is the most convenient to use of the free versions, though sometimes it hangs when being loaded. If that happens close the process and try again. [2] [3]

    If you don't load the proxy you will typically get a "connection refused" error.

IMAP gateways

  • Izymail Online: A subscription based add-on to access Yahoo!, MSN, and Hotmail from Thunderbird as if it's an IMAP account. You can create folders, and copy/move messages to/from folders. It also automatically creates and updates a mirror copy of your online address book.
  • mbox Mail for Mac is a commercial product for Intel based Mac systems that allows Thunderbird to access Hotmail folders using a IMAP account.

Accessing other folders

Normally you can only fetch new messages from the inbox folder because the add-on (or webmail extension) emulates a POP3 server. However some add-ons let you specify that the contents of other folders should be transparently merged with the inbox folder when checking for new mail. For example, if you're running Ypops! to use Yahoo webmail right click on the Ypops! icon in the system tray, choose "configure", and then "download folders" to configure what folders get merged. This is completely transparent to Thunderbird, which thinks it's fetching new messages from the inbox folder on a POP3 server.

If your add-on doesn't support this check whether your webmail GUI has an option to disable the bulk mail or junk mail folder. That would let you filter Spam messages using Thunderbird (if you want to).

Exporting Yahoo Mail Messages

If you are using Yahoo webmail another solution would be to switch to a email provider that provides free POP, IMAP and SMTP servers such as Gmail, and migrate your mail messages to Thunderbird. Yahoo webmail doesn't support exporting messages or folders. However, this thread provides instructions on a way to export the messages and then import them into Thunderbird using several tools. The basic steps are:

  • Download your messages using Zimbra (a email client from a company bought by Yahoo).
  • Rename the *.msg files to *.eml files.
  • Install the ImportExportTools extension .
  • Use Tools -> ImportExportTools -> "Import all .eml files from a directory" to import the messages.

You can migrate your contacts by exporting them as a .CSV file using Addresses -> Import/Export -> "Yahoo! CSV" and then importing that file using "Tools -> Import -> Address Books -> Text Files.

Troubleshooting

If you get a "connection to server pop.mail.yahoo.com timed out" error message, it's because you didn't specify localhost as the mail server when configuring either Ypops! or the webmail extension. There would be no reason to use those add-ons/extension if you had the right to access the email providers POP3 server. Instead, you're using a local proxy (which you specify as either localhost or 127.0.0.1) that knows how to access the webmail account while emulating a POP3 server for Thunderbird.

If you have problems connecting, check that you have a single copy of the add-on running. You might not have configured the add-on to run automatically when you boot. If you accidentally run two copies of Ypops!, it won't connect, but only one copy will show in the system tray. You can see the second copy using Windows Task Manager (Ctrl+Shift+Esc).

Double check you didn't enable a secure connection in Tools -> account settings -> server settings unless the add-on's instructions explicitly say it needs SSL or TSL. Experiment with setting the absolute minimum number of settings/features. For example the Ypops! v0.84 release notes state to not check "plain text" and "secure transmission using MD5" in its advanced preferences -> security settings. You'd normally assume it's safe to use those features since they're part of the add-on.

If the instructions suggest using non-standard ports such as 111 for POP to avoid interoperability problems with your anti-virus program, do what they suggest. But if it doesn't work, temporarily disable your anti-virus program and use the standard port . If that works, then use whatever port the instructions for your anti-virus program say to use, re-enable your anti-virus program, and see if it still works. For example many email providers don't support port 111, and Ypops! works fine with Avast! using port 110. It's a good idea to disable any anti-virus checking on outgoing messages as it can cause interoperability problems, and if the recipient doesn't have an anti-virus program, they have bigger problems to worry about.

If you're using the webmail extension and get the error message "Sending of username did not succeed. Mailserver localhost responded: undefined is an unsupported domain", it's because it requires you to enter the domain name as part of the username.

You may need to upgrade to a later version of the add-on or the webmail extension if your provider changes the layout of the webmail site.

If none of this helps, browse the issues articles for Thunderbird .

See also

External Links