Should I configure my email client to use the IMAP or native Exchange protocol?


In brief, your best options for Mines email are:

  • Avoid installed email clients entirely. Use a web-based email program like Outlook Web (Exchange) in your web browser so that you don't have to worry about this question. This is by far the easiest way to first access your email, calendar, and more.

  • If using a standalone email client like Outlook, faculty, staff, and students should normally configure it with a native Exchange connection, if possible, for best synchronization with email, contacts, calendar, and more. If that protocol is not supported by your email client, IMAP is recommended for email synchronization.  A request to enable IMAP for your mailbox can be initiated via the Mines Helpcenter ticketing system. 

Web-based email:

Outlook Web App via Microsoft 365 ( for faculty, staff, and students will run in any standard web browser and require no setup by the user. Simply log in with your Mines MultiPass credentials. We highly recommend these browser-based interfaces for accessing your email.

However, advanced users who prefer to use a standalone email client such as Outlook, Mac Mail, or Thunderbird (or smart phone email apps) may indeed do so.

Native Exchange email for faculty, staff, and students:

Users, who typically connect to our Microsoft Exchange email server using Microsoft Outlook, Mac Mail, or certain smart phone email clients, should choose the native Exchange email protocol where available. This protocol simultaneously synchronizes Outlook email, Outlook calendar, Outlook contacts, and other information between the Microsoft Exchange Server and a supported email client. Links to configuration details are found below.

IMAP email for faculty, staff, and students:

Students, faculty, and staff users of email clients that do not support the native Exchange protocol (e.g., Mozilla Thunderbird), may choose to connect to their email (but not calendar or contacts) via the IMAP protocol. Links to configuration details are found below.  IMAP is not enabled by default and must be requested via a Mines HelpCenter ticket.  The e-mail client used must support the OAUTH2 authentication method.  Basic password authentication is not permitted and will limit what e-mail clients can be used with IMAP. 

To configure a standard email client with IMAP, you will need to know, at minimum, your account username, password, email address, and the name and ports numbers of the proper server(s) for sending and receiving mail. See the ITS Email Services page ( for specific settings. Further details can be found here


What is native Exchange?

Native Exchange is a proprietary Microsoft protocol designed to be used with the Microsoft Exchange email server and Microsoft Outlook email client. Over time, other email clients such as Mac Mail have added the ability to connect via the native Exchange protocol. This protocol offers some added features (like integration of calendars and contact) along with email. Not all servers or email clients are compatible with native Exchange protocol, however.

What is IMAP?

IMAP (the Internet Message Access Protocol) is a widely used email protocol that fetches a copy of your email from a central mail server, but leaves the original on the server where it can be backed up regularly by the server administrator. For those with readily available Internet connections (that's most people in these very "connected" times), this allows viewing, sending, and receiving email from one email account that can be accessed from multiple computers with multiple -- even different -- email clients. We recommend IMAP email for those without the option of native Exchange email. The Microsoft Exchange server may be accessed via IMAP as well as native Exchange.  OAUTH2 password authentication is required when using IMAP.

Constant Internet connectivity is generally needed when using IMAP.


Article ID: 70133
Mon 1/14/19 12:59 PM
Tue 1/4/22 8:35 PM