If you can't get your SMTP settings to work

The SMTP (the protocol you use to send emails) is usually the one that gives you the most headaches when setting up your email accounts. This is due to many factors but usually the ISP you are using is very protective due to the spam issues all of us are faced with.

Sometimes you’ll open your email client and your email will arrive in your inbox, but when it comes to sending a message you get an error message. Here are the few steps to follow for Outlook or Thunderbird to fix this.

This is particularly likely to occur when travelling and connecting through a different ISP from normal, because the ISP may block outgoing ports as a safeguard against their connections being used to send spam.

Instructions for changing the port (and sometimes which port to use) may vary depending on the exact version of the email program you are using, but the following covers most of the common ones. Where we have put added yourdomainname.com this will be your domain name and whatever the extension your domain name has (eg .com .biz .com.au )


The usual symptom is that Thunderbird will try to send for about 20 seconds before giving up with “Sending of message failed. The message could not be sent because the connection to SMTP server yourdomainname.com timed out.”

  1. Click on Account Settings (usually on the Tools menu)
  2. Right down the bottom of the list of accounts on the left, should be “Outgoing server (SMTP)”. Click that.
  3. On the top right of the Account settings dialogue box you should see one or more outgoing servers. You probably want the default, which might mention ‘yourdomainname.com’. Click that and ‘Edit’.
  4. Server name should be yourdomainname.com. The first time you send, Thunderbird may ask you for your password.
  5. If the port number listed is “25”, alter it to “26” and you can try “none” for “connection security” while you try to get it working. Click “OK” and try sending again.
  6. If that doesn’t work, you might also want to try port 587, which requires STARTTLS security. In fact this is the preferred option for security reasons.

If you’re still having problems, please let us know by opening a ticket, telling us any error message and the software you are using.

Outlook Express and Windows Mail

  1. Go to Account Settings (Tools > Accounts)
  2. Click on the “Mail” tab
  3. Highlight yourdomainname email account, and then click on “Properties”
  4. On the “Servers” tab, check that you are using yourdomainname.com SMTP server. Outgoing mail (SMTP) should read “yourdomainname.com”
  5. Make sure there is a tick in “My server requires authentication” (the “Settings” should be “same settings as incoming”).
  6. Next, click on the Advanced tab, under ‘Server Port Numbers’ change the Outgoing mail server port from 25 to 26. You could also try 465 with encryption).
  7. Save your changes and try sending email again.

Outlook 2007 and 2010 (and Outlook 2003 SP2 and above)

  1. Go to Tools menu > Account settings
  2. Select the relevant yourdomainname.com email account, and click the “Change” button (third from the left above that line)
  3. Make sure that the “Outgoing mail server (SMTP)” box reads “yourdomainname.com” 
  4. Click the “More settings…” button to the bottom right.
  5. Click the second tab along, “Outgoing server” and ensure “My outgoing server (SMTP) requires authentication” is ticked. Select “Use same settings as my incoming mail server”. “Require secure password authentication” should not be ticked.
  6. Click the right-hand tab, “Advanced”.
  7. For “Outgoing server (SMTP)”, remove “25” if that is what you have, and first try entering 587. In this case change “Use the following type of encrypted connection” to STARTTLS. Click “OK” and next.
  8. Cancel any messages being sent, and try sending again.
  9. If you still get an error, you may want to try using “26” “Outgoing server (SMTP)” without any encryption (not secure), or possibly “465” with SSL encryption (secure).

Outlook 2003

Older releases of Outlook 2003 use port 465 for a secure connection, and won’t do port 587. So first we’ll try 465, and if something objects to that, fall back on port 26.

  1. Go to Tools > Email Accounts
  2. Select “View or change existing e-mail accounts” and click “Next”
  3. Select the relevant yourdomainname.com email address and click the “Change…” button
  4. Make sure that the “Outgoing mail server (SMTP)” box reads “yourdomainname.com” 
  5. Click the “More settings…” button to the bottom right.
  6. Click the second tab along, “Outgoing server” and ensure “My outgoing server (SMTP) requires authentication” is ticked. Select “Use same settings as my incoming mail server”. “Require secure password authentication” should not be ticked.
  7. Click the right-hand tab, “Advanced”.
  8. For “Outgoing server (SMTP)”, remove “25” if that is what you have, and first try entering 465. If you have a tick box with “This server requires a secure connection (SSL)”, tick it. (If you instead have a question about “encrypted” connection with a choice of “TLS”, choose that and port “587” as above.)
  9. Click “OK” and next and “Finish”.
  10. Cancel any messages being sent, and try sending again.
  11. If you still get an error, you may want to try using “26” “Outgoing server (SMTP)” without encryption (not secure).


Windows Live Mail 2009 and above

This is the email program that comes with “Microsoft Live Essentials” for Windows 7 and 8 (not the same as the “Windows 8 Mail” program). (Technical note: Microsoft now prefers STARTTLS like the rest of the world, but only on ports 587 and 25.)

  1. Right-click on your yourdomainname.com email account and choose “Properties…”
  2. Click on the second tab along, “Servers”
  3. Ensure “my server requires authentication” is ticked. (If you click “More settings…” it should show “Use same settings as my incoming mail server”)
  4. Click the “Advanced” tab to the top right.
  5. In the top box “Outgoing server (SMTP)” try 587 and tick “This server requires a secure connection (SSL)”.
  6. Click “OK” and “Close”.
  7. Try sending mail again. If you have problems, try port 465 (with SSL), or as a last resort 26 (with SSL unticked).


Windows 8 Mail

It is suggested you upgrade to a better email program, such as Thunderbird. If you have no other option:

  1. Start Windows 8 mail
  2. Wave your mouse over the bottom right of the screen to get the “charm menu”
  3. Choose “settings”, then “accounts”
  4. Select the yourdomainname.com account
  5. Scroll down to the “Outgoing (SMTP) email server” and
  6. On earlier versions port 587 may not work correctly, so use port 465 and tick “Outgoing server requires SSL
  7. Tick the “requires authentication” and “use same settings” below that boxes as well and click “Connect”.


Apple Mail (Mac OS X)

Later versions of Mac Mail may be able to automatically choose automatically between 465, 587 or 25, which should work in most cases.

    1. Go to Mail menu > Preferences
    2. Click the Accounts icon “@” along the top
    3. Select the yourdomainname.com account
    4. Select the “Account information” tab
    5. At the bottom should be “Outgoing Mail Server (SMTP)”. To the right of that click the list, and choose “Edit SMTP server list”.
    6. Older version of Apple Mail: If there is no list, there may be a button marked “Outgoing server” to click and the port setting is more likely to be relevant. See “Older version” below. Otherwise continue immediately below... Newer version: click the Account Information and ensure the server name is yourdomainname.com. Click “Advanced”, and “Use
  1. ”. Also click “Authentication” and change to “Password”. Your user name is the full email address.
    1. If you’ve changed these, they are more likely to be the problem than the port, so make sure you are using the default ports (26, 465 and 587), Click “OK” and save and try again.
    2. If this still doesn’t work, go back to the Account Information > SMTP list > Advanced and try port 587 and try again. If this fails, try changing from default ports, use port 26, and turn off “Use SSL” (not encrypted).
  2. Older version: you should have a box marked “SMTP Server Options”. Ensure “Outgoing mail server” is “yourdomainname.com”, change server port to 587, tick “Use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)”, Authentication=password, and user name and password as above.


Outlook 2011 for Mac

  1. Start Outlook
  2. Go to the Tools menu, then select Accounts
  3. You probably just have one account on the left-hand side. If you have
    more than one, select the yourdomainname.com account.
  4. Down the bottom you should have “Outgoing server” which should be yourdomainname.com. Under that, make sure “Override default port” and “Use SSL to connect” are both ticked. The box to the right of the “outgoing server” should read “587”.
  5. Then click “More Options..”
  6. click “Authentication” and select “Use Incoming server info”
  7. Click “OK” and close the Accounts window.

More information and alternatives

This problem is usually due to ISPs or the network you are on, blocking normal access to port 25 because of spam being sent via their network. Although it’s very inconvenient when it is blocked, the steps above should allow you to get around the issue. It’s a good idea to use secure connection when available as it not only makes it much harder to eavesdrop on your messages, but protects your password when you are using a wireless network.

Please be aware that if you do NOT have an SSL certificate for your domain name, the SSL security, may require you to add a security exception or may advise you that there may be a security issue. Accept any security exception. If you would like to purchase a SSL certificate, please contact us for further info