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Computers

Mail: Comcast message deletion issue; problems sending email through AOL servers

Mail: Comcast message deletion issue; problems sending email through AOL servers

Inability to delete mail from Comcast servers Yesterday we covered a reader report that OS X 10.3's Mail app is unable to delete retrieved mail from Comcast's email servers, requiring the user to delete mail manually via Comcast's Web interface. That report generated a significant number of comments from readers, with conflicting assertions. A good number of readers have confirmed the issue between Mail and Comcast. However, several Comcast subscribers using Mail have not experienced the problem, and other Comcast subscribers using Entourage and other email clients are also experiencing it.

Several users claim that the problem only occurs if the "Remove copy from server after rectrieving a message" preference is set to "Right Away" -- changing the setting to days, weeks, or months later seems to work fine. (Although, again, some users who have Mail set to "Right Away" are not experiencing problems.")

Other users point to corrupted mailboxes; a MacFixIt website comment notes:

"The only time I've had this problem was when the Comcast database became corrupted, and I needed to use the Web client to delete all inbox mail manually. This procedure (as described to me by Comcast tech support) resets their database, and all worked properly after that. I haven't had any problems caused by the Mail app. I have it set to delete mail after one day, and it works fine."

Finally, a MacFixIt reader having a similar problem with a different ISP reports that the ISP claims the problem is with Mail (and some versions of Outlook for Windows):

"The pop server that we use for normal members, tpop3d, has provided lots of information about this problem, which mainly effects Mac OSX users, as well as Outlook users who have not downloaded updates for their software. The way deleting mail off the server according to [RFC] standards are that once the client connects to the server, it downloads the messages, it then tells the server to delete the files (which the server queues), the client disconnects by sending a 'quit' command, then the server deletes the files. According to the RFC standard, the POP server must wait for the client to issue the 'quit' command before it processes the delete commands. With [Mail], it was sometimes sending the 'quit' command after it disconnects or at the same time as it disconnects, so the POP server doesn't receive it. This resulted in the server not deleting the messages just downloaded. Some POP servers are more lenient, which is why this problem does not occur everywhere. On the other hand, there has also been discussion with tpop3d that the pop3 server does receive all the necessary commands, but due to the way the last packet is received from the client, it causes the pop server not to parse it properly."

Problems sending mail via AOL Yesterday we also noted a reader report that Apple's Mail application was having trouble sending mail through AOL. (AOL recently opened up their email system to allow the use of an AOL account using "any" IMAP email client.) A number of MacFixIt readers pointed out that this was a known issue with Mail when AOL first opened access, but that was fixed in late April 2004.

Although AOL only officially supports Eudora and the Microsoft email clients (Outlook Express, Entourage, etc.), a number of MacFixIt readers report success using Mail with AOL. Several pointed out that AOL's SMTP (outgoing mail) servers use a non-standard port (587) and require SMTP authentication, so those experiencing problems may need to check their settings. In the Accounts tab of Mail preferences, select the AOL account and then from the "Server Settings" dialog, use the following:

  • Outgoing Mail Server: smtp.aol.com
  • Server port: 587
  • Check the "User Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)" box
  • Authentication: Password
  • User Name: your AOL member name
  • Password: your AOL password

AOL also provides a help page on using AOL email with a third-part email client.

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