Hotmail via Claws Mail

Using Hotmail in a web browser requires a full featured browser, a good Internet connection, and a modern computer. One alternative for slower computers or poor connections is to access Hotmail through a lighter third party web interface like mail2web. An even lighter alternative is to use a lightweight POP client to access your Hotmail account.

Here I document how to do this with Claws Mail, the lightest POP client I know, but the procedure should be applicable to POP clients generally.

It is possible to have mail deleted in Claws Mail automatically deleted from the server. In Hotmail, go to Options – More Options – Managing your account – POP and deleting downloaded messages. Select “Do what my other program says – if it says to delete messages, then delete them”.

It is not possible to synchronize local and server folders. This requires IMAP access, and Hotmail only offers POP. A workaround is to instruct Claws Mail to delete messages from the server after so many hours or days. This figure should be high enough that you still have web access to your mail for as long as you need, but not so long that mail piles up indefinitely. If this is not acceptable, then switch from Hotmail to a provider that offers IMAP access — which is probably a good idea anyway. UPDATE: Hotmail (now outlook.com) appears to now support IMAP; see the comments for details.

INSTALLATION AND CONFIGURATION
Install Claws Mail, claws-mail-gtkhtml2_viewer-plugin, and claws-mail-notification-plugin. Open. The setup wizard will launch; answer the questions:

  • Server type: POP3
  • Server address: pop3.live.com
  • Username: Your full Hotmail address
  • Use SSL to connect to receiving server: yes
  • Use SSL via STARTTLS: no
  • Client SSL certificate: leave blank
  • SMTP server address: smtp.live.com
  • Use authentication: yes
  • SMTP username and password: leave blank to use the same as POP
  • Use SSL to connect to SMTP server: yes
  • Use SSL via STARTTLS: yes
  • Client SSL certificate: leave blank
  • Mailbox name: Hotmail

When you finish the wizard, Claws Mail will open.

Open Configuration – Preference for current account. In Receive, check “Remove messages on server when received” and set “Remove messages after X days X hours” to the desired delay. In Compose, enable default dictionary and default alternate dictionary. For example, I set the former to en and the latter to es.

Open Configuration – Preferences and set as desired. Settings that work well for me are, in Mail Handling – Receiving, check “Automatically check for new mail every X minutes” and “Check for new mail on start-up”. In Mail Handling – Sending, check “Never send return receipts”. In Compose – Spell Checking, enable alternate dictionary if desired (I selected es_MX), and check that both dictionaries work. In Message View – Text Options, select “Render HTML-only messages with plugin if possible”. In Message View – External Programs, select “Use system defaults when possible”. In Other – Miscellaneous, select “Empty trash on exit” and “Synchronise offline folders as soon as possible”.

If your ISP blocks port 25 (mine does), then open Configuration – Preferences for current account – Advanced and set the SMTP port to 587. As a last resort you may use your ISP’s SMTP server, but your outgoing mail will be penalized by spam filters for having forged headers. However if you were concerned about spam filters then you wouldn’t be using Hotmail anyway.

If you installed a plugin, open Configuration – Plugins. Select the desired plugins and press “Load”. Select them and press “Open”.

Press “Get Mail”. You will be asked if you want to accept an unknown SSL certificate; do so. Your mail will be received. Depending on the size of your mailbox and the speed of your connection this could take a long time. Henceforth Claws Mail will automatically check for mail.

Press “Compose” and write a test message to yourself. Insure spellcheck works in all desired languages. Press “Send”. You will be asked if you want to accept an unknown SSL certificate; do so. Your mail will be sent. Insure it is received.

TODO: Document how to set default mime types, how to set up and use the address book, and how to integrate spamassassin. Update for Hotmail’s IMAP support and name change to outlook.com.

REFERENCES
Lifehacker: Hotmail finally enables POP
Claws Mail support: IRC channel and mailing lists

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About Warren Post

So far: Customer support guy, jungle guide, IT consultant, beach bum, entrepreneur, teacher, diplomat, over-enthusiastic cyclist. Tomorrow: who knows?
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12 Responses to Hotmail via Claws Mail

  1. anonymous says:

    Norm writes:Tried everything but still smtp.live.com authentication fails when I send mail. The 3 + 3 +1 settings in SSL have many permutations I have Use SSL for POP3, Use STARTTLS to start session and the bottom one turned off – this seems ok because i receive OK. The SEND window seems the problem. What exactly is my USER IDHELPnoskey7@hotmail.com

  2. wpost says:

    Sorry, I 'm afraid your problem has me stumped. Perhaps someone on the claws-mail IRC channel or mailing list can help you:

    http://www.claws-mail.org/MLs.php?section=community

    When you get it resolved, please post the solution back here. Thanks and good luck.

  3. anonymous says:

    Paul writes:The following settings work for meIncommingpop3.live.com995tick Secure connection (TLS)PlaintextusernamepasswordOutgoingsmtp.live.com587tick Secure connection (TLS)autousernamepassword

  4. wpost says:

    Thanks, Paul — hope this helps someone.

  5. anonymous says:

    Vaskeklut writes:I followed this guide, and a guide for installing gmail with Claws. WHY does it have to be so user-hostile? I spent about an hour to make it work, but eventually gave up, and found Emailtray (http://www.emailtray.com/) instad.It was like this:(mail account)(password)(mail account)(password)(mail account)(password)(mail account)(password)Took me about 20 seconds to fill those in and install four accounts, and it recognized gmail, hotmail, yahoo and everything right away. No further settings needed.Unfortunately, the client have very large glossy toolbars and icons, so there is too little space for the actual mail handeling.My point is, we live in 2011, why is mail often so incredibly complicated and imperfect?

  6. wpost says:

    Agreed. That was one of the things that got me documenting this stuff in the first place: it would take me forever to set up an email client properly, and it was so unintuitive that I'd have to re-invent the wheel next time. There ought to be an easier way. EmailTray is Windows only and apparently not open source, so it's not for me. But I'm glad it works for you and it may be of use to others. One email client for Windows that is drop-dead easy to configure is PopMan:

    http://www.ch-software.de/popman/

    It's built for speed and ease of use so don't expect eye candy or tons of features, but I had a happy user up and running in three minutes.

  7. kai4freunde says:

    NEW! :idea: Hotmail&Outlook,com: IMAPS4: imap-mail.outlook.com:993 – SMTPS: smtp-mail.outlook.com:587 (SSL) :pingu:

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  11. Hallo everyone! This is my settings for Hotmail and works perfect.

    Server type: IMAP4
    Server address: imap-mail.outlook.com
    Username: Your full Hotmail address
    Use SSL to connect to receiving server: yes
    Use SSL via STARTTLS: no
    Client SSL certificate: leave blank
    SMTP server address: smtp-mail.outlook.com
    Use authentication: yes
    SMTP username and password: leave blank to use the same as POP
    Use SSL to connect to SMTP server: yes
    Use SSL via STARTTLS: yes
    Client SSL certificate: leave blank
    Mailbox name: Hotmail

  12. Warren Post says:

    Thanks, Giwrgos! Hope that helps someone.

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