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The UoM Exchange 2010 service provides combined Email and Calendar services. However getting either of these to work with Thunderbird and Lightning calendar add-on isn't as straight forward as one would hope.

The official way of accessing Email with an IMAP client is directly using Exchange's IMAP service (see below). However some people are finding that this is just not working for them and/or suffers from a number of drawbacks.

Calendar support can be added to Lightning via an additional plugin.

The alternative to both these solutions is DavMail which is a gateway running locally on your machine that knows how to talk to Exchange directly and provides the services via local ports. DavMail links to Exchange via !WebDAV by default, but Exchange 2010 only supports Exchange Web Services (EWS). Thankfully DavMail has added EWS support and works with our Exchange server from version 3.8.3 onwards. DavMail also provides SMTP, LDAP and CalDav services. The calendar services via EWS require version 3.8.5 or greater. Note davMail should work for any IMAP or CalDav client.

Updated: 1 May 2012

Performance Problems with Thunderbird 3.x

TB from 3.x does have a couple of features that can cause it to slow your machine down. Firstly it likes to download and store all your email locally so you can read it offline. Secondly the it indexes all your email to speed up the fancy new searching (which I don't like and just use the quick search).

  1. Turn off "Keep messages on this computer", See Synchronization and Storage account settings.
  2. Turn off indexing in Thunderbird->Tools->Options->Advanced.

Server Side Filtering and Thunderbird 3.x

When moving to Exchange you may have changed to using server side filtering rather than letting Thunderbird do it. This can mean emails are moved to subfolders from the Inbox before Thunderbird downloads them. This can cause new mail not to be seen by Thunderbird (until you select the folder and force it to sync) as by default it only checks the Inbox for new mail. For any folder that might have new mail in it you need to right click, Properties->General Information and tick the "always check this folder" box.

Exchange Email via IMAP with Thunderbird

I've done this on two machines. Firstly I modified my existing IMAP account details, on the other I followed the PDF to set up a new account (making sure I used the central username and correct outgoing server security protocol). The only difference was that I didn't have to subscribe too all my folders when creating a new account.

If you want to transfer your filter settings to a new account, make a backup of the following file:

C:\Documents and Settings\<user>\Application Data\Thunderbird\Profiles\XXXXXX.default\ImapMail\email.manchester.ac.uk\msgFilterRules.dat

and then replace it in the new account once it is created.

  1. First update Thunderbird to >=3.1.1 - the experience with 2.x is worse.

  2. Server settings:
    • Server name: email.manchester.ac.uk
    • Port: 993
    • Username: <centralusername> e.g. zzalsxyz

    • Connection security: SSL/TLS
      • For older versions of Thunderbird you might have to choose one or the other. Choose SSL.
    • Auth. method: Normal password}
  3. Outgoing server:
    • server name: outgoing.manchester.ac.uk
    • Port: 587
    • Username: <centralusername> e.g. zzalsxyz

    • Connection security: STARTTLS
      • For older versions of Thunderbird you might have to choose TLS or SSL. Choose TLS.
    • Auth. method: Normal password
  4. While you already have server setting open Exchange has new folder for junk, sent and deleted so I would change them now. Change your filters too!
    • Deleted -> Deleted Items

    • Sent -> Sent Items

    • Junk -> Junk E-Mail

  5. You may need to re-subscribe to every folder - yes including all the subfolders! When creating an account from scratch this doesn't happen.

    • Right-click on the IMAP entry in the list of account and select Subscribe...
  6. I recommend turning off message storage and indexing. See above.

Known Issues

  1. If some attachments are only partly downloaded, the workaround described on this page might improve the situation: Go to Preferences -> Advanced -> General -> Config Editor... and set mail.server.default.fetch_by_chunks to false (you may need to re-download e-mails).

Exchange Calendar with Lightning

If you already use the Lightning Calendar add-on for Thunderbird or would like to use it here is a quick HOWTO.

  1. If you don't have anything in your Outlook calender first logon via the web interface and create a dummy meeting for today. This is so that you can check that Lightning has successfully connected to Exchange.
  2. Install the Lightning Calendar add-on if you haven't already done so:
  3. You need an additional add-on to talk to Exchange. There are now two plugins available
    • Exchange 2007/2010 Calendar which is new, uses the EWS interfaces and is being actively developed. I have not tried it myself yet but heard it works well.

    • Provider for Microsoft Exchange. This also uses EWS. The following are some installation and config notes, they may be applicable to the other plugin as well

      1. Save the .xpi file to your computer (don't let Firefox install it!) and then in Thunderbird use Tools->Add-ons to install from file.

      2. Restart Thunderbird and switch to the calendar view.
      3. Create a new Calendar
      4. If you don't see the dummy meeting go back. Delete the calendar and start again. Lightning doesn't complain if something doesn't work.

Exchange Email via DavMail with Thunderbird

The experience with DavMail is far better than Exchange's IMAP service. No command error pop-ups. Folder create/move/delete all works and folder notification is better if not 100% at the moment.

  1. Download and install DavMail (version >= 3.8.3)

  2. Open the DavMail setting window and set the OWA URL to: https://outlook.manchester.ac.uk/owa. Enable IMAP and other services you require. I would continue to use outgoing.manchester.ac.uk for SMTP there is no need to use the davmail gateway

  3. In the Advanced tab of the settings window Enable EWS. Older versions of DavMail (<3.8.7) don't have have this widget and you need to open .davmail.properties (in ~/ or C:\Documents and Settings\<username>) and add the line davmail.enableEws=true

  4. Create a new IMAP account in Thunderbird. (if you are using the wizard use stop it and use manual set up). The server should be set to localhost with connection security set to none. Change the port number to 1143. Otherwise email address and username should be the same as before.
  5. I recommend turning off message storage and indexing. See above.
  6. Login as normal and wait for the folder to be found and downloaded. The Exchange's Deleted Items folder etc are mapped to the default Deleted, Sent etc.

Known Issues

  1. If DavMail refuses to log in and the settings appear correct there might be a permission issues access the autodiscover server.

  2. When initially downloading all the headers sometimes a NullPointer error occurs. DavMail will after a minute or so re-connect to Exchange and get the rest of the headers.

  3. Occasionally DavMail will loose the EWS connection but after a minute or so re-connect to Exchange. This seems to be something to do with Exchange as this occurs simultaneously on other machines.

Exchange Calendars via DavMail with Lightning

Requires DavMail >= 3.8.5.

  1. Install DavMail as described above if you haven't already done so.

  2. Check that the CalDav service is enabled and the port number.

  3. Switch to Lightning and add a new calendar